In ‘The Singularity Is Near’, Ray Kurzweil wrote, “my body and brain is temporary. Its particles turn over completely every month. Only the pattern of my body and brain have continuity… Information lasts only so long as somebody cares about it… translating our currently hardwired thoughts into software will not necessarily provide us with immortality. It will simply place the means to determine how long we want our lives and thoughts to last in our collective hands”.
Kurzweil is talking about human beings, not digital people. In his view, yet-to-be invented technologies will arrive that could upgrade a flesh-and-bone person into a super-supple robot, or even upload their consciousness to a neural computer. Not everybody, you may not be surprised to learn, agrees with him on these points.
But, digital people… In principle, why should avatars designed around the DP philosophy, such as Argent Bury or Khannea Suntzu, not be regarded as patterns of information that persist for as long as they are cared for and looked after? Khannea herself wrote, ‘I came into existence as an idea…largely a series of sketches, a number of several MB files, a pile of algorithms and some conceptual references’. She is talking about the i-genome and the i-genes that comprise it. Can those patterns that make up Khannea persist beyond the life of any one meatbag? Surely, it is not a near-term possibility. But it does seem as if indefinite lifespans for digital people will be technically possible before the same can be said of human beings.
Tom Sawyer, Lady McBeth, James Bond. Characters who have survived long after their creators had passed away. Given the possibility of the 5 trends, and the adoption of the digital person/immersionist philosophy, maybe one day residents like The Sojourner will live forever too.