[extropy-chat] How to be copied into the future?

TheMan mabranu at yahoo.com
Sun Mar 18 16:20:21 UTC 2007

In Arthur C Clarke's and Stephen Baxter's "The Light
Of Other Days", posthumans develop quantum technology
that enables them to look back in time, through
wormholes in spacetime, at whatever point in time and
space they wish (but only all past time and up to
their present time). For example, they can watch
everything we all have done with our lives, even when
we (thought we) were alone. Later on, this technology
is further developed by future generations,
posthumans, so that they can use it to copy all human
beings who have ever lived, and "resurrect" them in
the future (the time of those posthumans). By being
saved by posthumans in such a way, all humans will get
a much longer life, as the future into which they are
saved has far more advanced life-prolonging technology
than humanity has today. If we are only our
information, not our matter, and if this kind of
technology will sooner or later be invented, it may
seem that we are all already guaranteed immortality
even if we die today.

But even if such ”copying people from the
past”-technology is developed at some point in the
future, it may not be that the ones (the posthumans)
using it will want to resurrect all of us. They will
want to resurrect only the ones they find worth
resurrecting, depending on their preferences. As those
posthumans will be a continuation of humanity of
today, and since humanity of today have preferences,
it’s not very far-fetched to assume that they too will
have preferences, although their preferences may be
different from ours, just as our preferences are
different from those of our ancestors.

I’m a hedonist. I want a life that is as long and
happy as possible (the longer, the happier, as there
will be more time for happiness the longer I live (and
better technology for increasing happiness as well))
Given this preference of mine, and given that some of
us may be saved by future posthumans in the way
described above - how should I live to make them want
to save me?

Is it, in a case like mine, really so smart to prolong
one’s life the way Ray Kurzweil does, spending lots of
time, energy and money on supplements and nutritious
food, etc, or is it better to use all that time,
energy and money (as well as any other resources one
owns) on, for example, helping others?

If you could save all the greedy guys from all of
mankind’s history into your time, would you do it?
Maybe not. Maybe you'd mainly care to save the most
unselfish people that there were, as that’s already a
huge amount of people and as the unselfish ones are
the ones who most of all people deserve a really long
life. Likewise, a future post-human society may choose
to save only the most unselfish people from our time,
and not care about the rest of us.

Ray Kurzwell may live for, say, 500 years, but the
future post-humans may be more likely to make a copy
of Mother Theresa than of him (and that way, she may
live much longer than he will), so perhaps he would be
better off living approximately like Mother Theresa
(which would mean giving away all his money, meaning
he couldn’t buy the expensive supplements he buys now,

It seems to me that the Ray Kurzweil way of living,
although probably considerably more altruistic than
most people’s way of living, is still far from 100%
altruistic, as he could probably save a lot of
starving human beings’ lives with the money that he
now spends on expensive super-supplements for himself
– and, probably, will spend on his cryopreservation.
(Or is his lifestyle still the morally best one in the
long run? It could be, if it is utilitarian. If the
consequences of his life are utilitarian, will future
posthumans care whether he lives the way he lives out
of honest, pure utilitarian intentions or out of some
degree of egotism (possibly deceivingly labelled as
pure utilitarianism)?) It’s not clear to me that the
chances of being saved by future posthumans is
increased more, or even equally much, by a Ray
Kurzweil way of living, than/as for example by a
Mother Theresa way of being – given that the
posthumans value altruism more than anything else.
Maximizing one’s own personal survival, like Ray
Kurzweil does, does seem less altruistic than a
lifestyle where you are ready to sacrifice your own
longevity for others, doesn’t it?

If, on the other hand, the posthumans haven’t
developed a lot more altruism than we have, they may
just want to copy us for a living-beings-museum (like
Jurassic Park) purpose only, and then they may only be
interested in having just a few samples of each of
roughly all the general types of human beings
represented on Earth, meaning they may choose to copy
only a few single individuals of each general kind of
us, like for example a few ballet dancers, a few
skydivers, a few albinos, a few satanists, a few
feminists, a few transhumanists, a few 100%-altruists,
etc. Then, to have the best chances of being saved by
the posthumans, you should live in a very original
way, so original that only a few people have even come
close to that kind of lifestyle before – and will ever
in the future. Again, this is based on how we might
choose if we could copy any or all of the people from
the past into our time. Maybe we wouldn’t copy them
all, and not even all the altruistic ones, but just
some samples of each kind of person, for example some
specimen of the murderers of the time, some specimen
of the altruists of the time, some specimen of the
best cave painters of the time, etc.

Other criteria that may decide whether one will be
saved by future posthumans or not, may be whether one
is a rights ethician or a utilitarian, good looking on
the outside or on the inside, fun to be with or
honest, stubborn or able to let things go, intelligent
or happy, a good artist or a good worker etc - all
depending on what kind of persons posthumanity will
find interesting/good/fun/attractive/useful etc.

Some transhumanists seem to have suggested that you
should be a famous person, or, if you can’t, you
should try to keep close to famous persons as much of
your time as possible, so that as many posthumans as
possible will see you when they watch the famous
persons of your time. That way, more posthumans will
see you, and thereby chances are increased that at
least one of the posthumans that happen to see you
will find you good-looking, or interesting in some
other way, and therefore save you into his/her time.
So that’s one more plausible strategy.

It’s also possible that long after that first period
of posthumans saving some selection of human beings
from our time, there may come an age of
post-posthumans, who will finally save us all. But
even if that will happen, the ones of us who are also
saved by ”the first generation of posthumans” may get
an even better life (longer, and that way containing
more happiness) than the ones of us who were only
saved by the eventual post-post humans. Because, in
addition to getting to live both in our time and in
the time of the post-post humans, the former human
beings are also allowed to live for some time in the
era between, meaning they live even more years
(probably years of happiness).

So what I’m wondering is, is it really egotistically
rational to do as Ray Kurzweil, and try to live as
long as possible in ”our time”, or is it egotistically
more rational to live in another way, and in that
case, what way?


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