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வெள்ளி, 27 அக்டோபர், 2017

Digital Immortality - By Ishika Moitra

The quest for immortality is as old as humanity itself yet, in today’s times it seems to be well within our reach. Will it be biological immortality that will redefine our concepts of life, death and beyond, or will it be digital immortality bringing with it a new era of virtual reality. Let’s delve into a field of implementation of computers that is barely spoken about. First of all, we need to understand what exactly is digital immortality? Is it a hypothetical concept that has been explored many a times in sci-fi movies, or is it the reality of the next generation? To define it technically, we can say it is the process of storing a person’s personality into a digital medium such as a hard disk or cloud storage so that the knowledge, experiences and intelligence of the person is not lost into oblivion after their demise. It is a complex amalgamation of cloud computing, big data analytics and artificial intelligence. In humanity’s quest for immortality, this is the most practical and sustainable concept sighting the negligible strain on natural resources. 

Companies like United Therapeutics, and Intel’s exascale computer that operates at the speed of the human mind, Blue Brain Project are just a few well known examples of the field. The question arises that although this form of immortality preserves all the experiences of our lifetime, does it really immortalize us or does it form a pale reflection of what the person was in his lifetime? Is one truly alive and immortal in the electrical pulses of a hard disk or will it be the muggle version of a Hogward’s portrait? 

Well, the answer to this is in the realm of possibility. Every cell in our body dies and is replaced periodically, on a cellular level we are not the same person that we were a decade ago, then what exactly is the measure that defines who we are? It is the continuity of our consciousness. If this consciousness is linked into a digital medium that works at an atomic level using nanotechnology, we might as well escape death and decay. If done right, digital immortality can be immortality in every sense of the word, preserving not just the memories but the person itself within the cloud domain. How and if this can be done is an enigma. What we do know is it will be a complex procedure comprising of cloud, analytics, artificial intelligence, medical sciences and other advanced technology. 

Despite centuries of study and incredible advances in neuroscience, we still don't have a full understanding of the human brain and how it is linked to our being. Will altering the state of our consciousness from physical to digital change how we grow? Will our minds develop the same way in the avatar as it would in our mortal bodies? One of the fundamental concepts of artificial intelligence is neural mapping which is a sort of network diagram of our neurons yet it is still unsuccessful in replicating a human mind entirely. In case of digital immortality this field will be of magnanimous importance in developing a virtual brain like simulation. What would be the impact of such a possibility on the human race as a whole? The technical requirements for such a large scale storage and analysis of the stored data for the benefit of the subsequent generations is matter for the next write up.

Ishika Mridul Moitra
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Item Reviewed: Digital Immortality - By Ishika Moitra Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Praveen Kumar Rajendran