Freeman Dyson

Edge: IS LIFE ANALOG OR DIGITAL?

One of my favorite books is Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition” by Ed Regis. The book is a collection of stories about weird ideas and weird people. The transhuman condition is an idea suggested by Hans Moravec. It is the way you live when your memories and mental processes are down-loaded from your brain into a computer. The wiring system of the computer is a substitute for the axons and synapses of the brain. You can then use the computer as a back-up, to keep your personality going in case your brain gets smashed in a car accident, or in case your brain develops Alzheimer’s. After your old brain is gone, you might decide to upload yourself into a new brain, or you might decide to cut your losses and live happily as a transhuman in the computer. The transhumans won’t have to worry about keeping warm. They can adjust their temperature to fit their surroundings. If the computer is made of silicon, the transhuman condition is silicon-based life. Silicon-based life is a possible form for life in a cold universe to adopt, whether or not it happens to begin with water-based creatures like us made of flesh and blood.

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