Written by Sheldon Hoffman – Owner of Penguin Poetry
“The gods envy us. They envy us because we’re mortal, because any moment might be our last. Everything’s more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.”-Troy (2004)
The question of human morality has been a theme in literature and film since the invention of written word. As new technologies emerge and our physical limits grow exponentially every year; questions begin to present themselves. With these new technologies we find what used to be fiction, becoming reality at a quicker rate than in previous history. For the last half of the 20th century authors like Philip K. Dick have used their talents to explore the philosophical and moral implications of future societies.
Other forms of entertainment media have explored these issues, one in particular, Galaxy Express 999, a Japanese manga eventually turned anime, written over thirty years ago. In summary, the story tells a tale about a young Japanese boy and his journey across the universe on a steam engine to acquire a machine body. Throughout the narrative, the main characters explore the philosophical and moral nature of the inevitable operation. The series itself serves as a means to explore every angle of the moral implications surrounding the transformation from human to Cyber Human.
Dmitry Itskov a Russian entrepreneur began the 2045 project in 2011 when talks of the possibilities of transferring the human brain to a machine had begun to appear not so much fantasy as a reality. The 2045 project aims to put the human consciousness into a computer format within the next thirty two years, essential achieving a goal as old as time, immortality.
Perhaps an accurate metaphor to describe this scenario would be driving the same taxi cab for the majority of your life then one day awaking to find a taxi cab from forty years in the future. The vehicle itself has the same purpose but the means of achieving that purpose has altered significantly. You begin to search the vehicle for the familiar switches and buttons but they are nowhere to be found, leaving you the driver bewildered and confused behind the wheel.
Immortality while appearing positive in so many senses of what we as a race can and could accomplish disregards one point that was made in the movie “Troy”. That is that our mortality makes us beautiful because it gives us an appreciation of what little time we have and drives us to be better and constantly create and discover. I predict when we are able to achieve artificial immortality for the first hundred to two hundred years we will reach a point in time where we work to create some of the most beautiful technologies because we as a race still remember what it was like to be mortal. Following that point, the sense of urgency that drove us will cease to exist and with it that drive. In effect our drive to create with it.