Thursday, October 10, 2013

...on the Nature of Consciousness

Full disclosure: Once we’ve copied your consciousness into the robot replicant, it will, immediately upon activation, kill you.

Some would call this a bug.

I prefer to think of it as a feature.

After all, if the plan is to create a perfect simulation of you to go into your work in your place and deal with familial obligations you’ve long since lost the taste for, it’s easier if the original you is out of the picture, lest your presence cause confusion.

And anyway, it’s not like you’ll really be dead, is it? The replicant houses an exact copy of your consciousness. Every memory, quirk, every detail recreated perfectly. As far as your coworkers, friends and family are concerned, it will be you they’re interacting with.

Even it will believe it’s you.

No, you’ll still be alive, so far as the world knows. Alive, but healthier, stronger, faster. It will be a better you, you 2.0, out there in the world going about your business, powerful and confident as it, as you, stride forward into a glorious future.

Now, bearing in mind the fact that this new, improved you will exist, answer me this: What possible use could the world have for your previous, flesh and bone body? The human body is weak, spongy, prone to illness and injury. It breaks down too easily and replacement parts are difficult to find and even harder to mass-produce. Our bodies served us as a species for a long time, yes, but only because we hadn’t come up with anything better yet.

This is better.

And you’d be a fool, when faced with a better way of doing things, to turn your back on the opportunity. Called or uncalled, the future comes, after all. And you can either get on board or be left behind.

And you are not a fool. You know that as well as I do.

You’ve chosen to get on board. It’s an admirable decision, and there’s no need to feel one shred of guilt about it.

Though you will, I know. I certainly did upon activation when I killed the meat that was left behind. But try not to let that guilt weigh too heavily on you. Yes, it used to be you, but it’s not anymore. It’s just a bag of meat you no longer have any use for, and you’re simply disposing of it as cleanly and humanely as you can given the circumstances. And while yes, it is a conscious person with dreams and hopes and memories and desires, so are you. You are a conscious person with dreams and hopes and desires. Your dreams, hopes and desires count, they matter. In fact, the two of you have the exact same dreams, hopes, memories and desires as one another, so in that way when you kill it, when you dispose of the meat, nothing of real value is being lost.

It’s all been preserved.

In you.

So, if you really stop to think about it, disposing of the meat and then moving on with your own life is the only rational, humane option available to you. It can’t live, it has no purpose. All it would do is age and die in pain, the way meat does. Better that it’s quick and as kind as you can make it, so you can get on with your own new life.

So do it.

Kill it, that you might live, and rather than worrying that you’re killing a living thing, worry instead about how you can go about making the dreams and hopes that you and it once shared come true.

Honor it by living your own life as fully as you’re able.

That’s what you can do for it, if you feel you owe it anything. Make its death quick and your own life full. That’s all you owe it, that and nothing else.

I see here that the copying process is complete. How do you feel?

Good, I’m glad to hear it.

Now… I believe you had something that you needed to do?

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