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20 December 2007


What if, in the near future, it became technologically possible to take a snapshot of your mind: the near-infinite spiderweb of nerves in your brain, the chemicals and the ratios thereof that influence your temperament, all your memories and opinions and tastes and attitudes? What if someone found a way to replicate all of that, and install you onto some sort of computer, that could imitate your voice, your conversational mannerisms, the rhythm and meter of your instant message communications?
  • What if, just like you, it could change, learn, mature?
    • Of course, the minute the copy was made, you and it would begin to diverge. It couldn't be updated in real time with your post-replication experiences. As you and it had different conversations with different people your opinions and its would become less and less alike.
    • Would you want a computer version of you to exist? Do you think you'd enjoy conversations with yourself? What's the first thing you'd ask?
    • Do you think, assuming this computer would outlast you, that death would be easier or harder to accept with the knowledge that a decent approximation of you (depending on how recently it was made) can feasibly continue to interact with your friends and loved ones? Your unborn great grandchildren?
    • Would you like the chance to speak with computer replications of your ancestry?
  • What if it couldn't learn? What if it remained a snapshot of exactly who you were at a certain point in time?
    • Do you think you'd enjoy conversing with your former self?
    • Who do you think you'd like better: it or your current self?
    • Whose brains (living or dead) would you most like to pick in this way?
      • Your parents, as children?
      • Springsteen, circa 1975?

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