Technological resurrection

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Technological resurrection is a set of transhumanist ideas around extreme life extension and immortalist scenarios.


Technological resurrection scenarios and philosophies has been speculated upon by transhumanists for many years.[1]

Resurrection scenarios


Cloning Hiter would most likely be a bad idea

Humans already possess a rudimentary kind of immortality though successfully reproducing and passing on genes to their offspring. This type of immortality is already widely accepted in society.

Widely available sperm banks offer long-term storage of genetic material, and other types of genetic material may be stored cryogenically.

Whilst cloning Hitler is a popular trope, it is more a vehicle for continuity of ideas than that of the individual.

Advanced technological repair

Futurama's ubiquitous suspended heads occasionally acquire new bodies, hinting at the possibility of semi-biological immortalism

The most established way to be extremely long-lived with personal continuity today is via cryonics suspension. Cryonics is currently a one-way street, and as such, one must hope 'resurrection' is in some way or form in a future that has mastered nanotechnology and/or mind uploading. Reanimating a person would critically involve the reversal of the brain-damage caused by both the cryopreservation process and other trauma such as oxygen deprivation to a sufficient level to preserve continuity of self. Then there is the relatively trivial process of repairing the rest of the body, or growing a new cloned body and reintegrating the repaired brain.

Arguably this is no more 'resurrection' than when one successfully performs CPR to restore a heartbeat or breathing, perform an advanced neurological procedure to awaken someone from a coma, or other types of investigatory or emergency medicine.

Such a method offers relatively palatable biological immortalism.


Non-destructive uploading

Non-destructive uploading refers to hypothetical methods, such as non-destructive high-resolution scanning of the brain for the purposes of whole brain emulation.

Other methods include 'piece-by-piece- uploading of the brain functions into a non-biological substrate.

Destructive mind uploading

Many suggest that whole brain emulation is a convergent goal of immortalism. Whilst the taxonomies may be complex, most transhumanists believe that a person could be 'uploaded' to a machine at least with the destruction of the original. This is predicated on the need for high-resolution destructive 'scanning' of brain tissue.

This method has the advantage of being theoretically simpler to use with the damaged brain of a cryonics patient or indeed a relatively healthy person wishing to explore new levels of existence and mortality within a machine.

Continuity facsimiles

Lister: Rimmer! You're a hologram?! Rimmer: Yes. That's because I'm dead. Dead as a can of spam. And it's all thanks to you.

Once you (or a copy of you) are uploaded, a facimile or continuation of your original form may live on in many possible forms.

In Peter F. Hamilton's Commonwealth Saga,[2] all humans are backing up their personalities and memories most of the time to 'secure stores', allowing a reconstructed version of themselves to take their place if they die. This idea was explored earlier in Red Dwarf, where the insufferable hologram Arnold J Rimmer constantly complains about his original self being dead and unappreciated.

In Black Mirror episode San Junipero, a therapy simulation independently doubled as a vessel to house the consciousness of its users after their death.

A single personal continuity approach mostly sidesteps complex issues of whether 'you' can exist in multiple forms at once, arguing which is the 'real' you. See CGP Grey's ''The Trouble with Transporters' for more on this problem.

Reconstructed facsimiles

The 21st century is making a kind of informational/cultural immortality easier than ever. No longer will you need to be the most famous or most powerful for your information to be captured, information from social media, digital recordings and other records could potentially be enough to create a passable facsimile of yourself in the future. Examples in fiction include a romantic partner in Black Mirror's 'Be Right Back'[3] and famous philosopher Alan Watts in Her.

Information stored about the average person from the digital age and beyond presents a wealth of material which can be simulated into a sentient or near-sentient consciousness, capable of operating in a biological or non-biological substrate.

In the future, it make be possible to construct an artificial consciousness imbued with many of the memories, personality and thinking of the original which could come very close to emulating the original. For this reason Ray Kurzweil is storing many of his deceased father's possessions in anticipation of this time.[4]

The Terasem Movement's CyBeRev[5] and LifeNaut.[6] projects aim to formalise personal digital information capture for this purpose.

Simulation awakening

Awakening from The Matrix

The philosophical problem whether one is more than a brain in a vat leaves open the possibility that one's true consciousness could in fact exist outside of the universe as we personally know it. The simulation hypothesis suggests that our universe may not be the 'real' one, opening up the possibility that one could awaken in a more real universe in the future.

Exotic sciences

Jonathan Jones argues in his 2017 book 'Technological Resurrection: A Thought Experiment that destructive uploading in conjunction with a specially engineered spacetime wormhole could facilitate immortality potentially for every person ever born.

2011 film Source Code[7] explores a world where a complex quantum computer simulation is actually able to tap into alternative realities to allow continuity of existence despite serious injury or death in the primary. Similar ideas around quantum suicide are explored in Dirk Bruere book The Praxis.

Other scenarios

Popular beliefs in an immortal soul or spirit may allow reincarnation[8] or ascension to another plane of existence. This is not however supported by scientific observations. Christian transhumanist Micah Redding has argued that the the promise of metaphysical resurrection can be interpreted as referring to a technological approach.[9]

The science fiction idea of a full 'genetic memory' as featured in Alien Resurrection[10] is not supported by our current understanding of human DNA.

See also