Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Quest for the Eternal "Second, Third, Fourth..." Life

Right now my I am hooked on Battlestar Galactica. Last night I watched an episode from the 2nd season entitled "Downloaded". The show produces "Cylon"-androids-want-to-destroy-humankind stories. When a Cylon dies, he/she/its consciousness is being downloaded into a fresh clone-body.

Why do characters like "Data" on Star Trek's Next Generation or "Sharon Valerii" on Battlestar fascinate us so much? Their struggle to be accepted as human asks us to define what makes us human. Data's struggles to teach his inner circuitry to "feel". Does our capacity to feel distinguish us from machines like the Cylons? What if these machines have "feelings" themselves? What if they look exactly like you and I?

"Shanon Valerii" and "Data" - SNG

After all, they are either created deliberately by us (like Data) or the result of machines that have declared their independence from humankind. The examples included storylines from "Terminator", "The Matrix", "2001: A Space Odyssey" and lately "Battlestar Galactica". The more human they appear to be, the more the differences blur and the more we are forced to compare:

We are fragile. Once we are killed or injured there is no clone-body to replace limbs or entire bodies. We are supposed to be unique. It consoles us that there never was and never will be another person like us. At the same time it makes us sad, that along with our death all memories and experiences will vanish as well. What makes our life more important than that of a fruit fly? What is a human life span in comparison to the age of the universe? Being reborn, "downloaded" into a fresh body, having eternal youth ... just visions for coping with our insignificance and imminent death?

Which brings me to the subject of Second Life. People virtualize themselves in droves. Is the creation of virtual representation of yourself a God-like act? Our (many) disembodied selves are free from pain, age and disease. The desire the extend life as we know it is incredible. Clones and Androids and replacement organs grown form stem cells are just a matter of time. In the meantime we have Second Life. Whatever....

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Anonymous sldkfj said...

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June 8, 2007 at 5:34 AM  

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