The Transhumanist Quest for Immortal Love

The transhumanist quest is not just about becoming immortal; it’s about never losing the ones you love. Some have faith that our loved ones are on the other side waiting for a heavenly reunion. However, there is no evidence to be rationalized, and this causes such cognitive stress. Ernest Becker claims it is the source of all human neurosis.  Yet, we are on the verge of defeating death. Science and technology will eliminate the suffering felt with the loss of loved ones. How incredibly beautiful of a thought; to tell our children that they will never have to witness our passing.

Jason Silva has a new series called Shots of Awe that broke me out of my ‘denial of death’. I saw the beauty in the possibility that we can immortalize our loved ones. We clever bipedal apes can create a celestial kingdom here on earth, where antiquated genetic programs causing disease, illness and death, are rendered obsolete. Take a moment to reflect upon this techno poet Silva, who blends a sensorium of visual articulation into his new philosophical Shots of Awe:

A planet that eliminates death, pain and suffering is the metaphorical heaven on earth, actualized by the human imagination through innovation and inspiration.

We have the book of life at our fingertips, and we are finding the fluency to become the editors of this epic, billion year novel within our genome.  If god was the author, we are now the editors.

The following is an excerpt from Ernest Becker’s The Denial of Death, which explains this idea nicely.

quoteThe individual has to protect himself against the world, and he can do this only as any other animal would: by narrowing down the world, shutting off experience, developing an obliviousness both to the terrors of the world and to his own anxieties. Otherwise he would be crippled for action.We cannot too often repeat the great lesson of Freudian psychology that ‘repression is normal self-protection and creative self-restriction— in a real sense, man’s natural substitute for instinct’. [Otto] Rank has a perfect, key term for this natural human talent: he calls it “partialization” and very rightly sees that life is impossible without it. What we call the well-adjusted man has just this capacity to partialize the world for comfortable action. I have used the term ‘fetishization’, which is exactly the same idea: the ‘normal’ man bites off what he can chew and digest of life, and no more. In other words, men aren’t built to be gods, to take in the whole world; they are built like other creatures, to take in the piece of ground in front of their noses. Gods can take in the whole of creation because they alone can make sense of it, know what it is all about and for. But as soon as a man lifts his nose from the ground and starts sniffing at eternal problems like life and death, the meaning of a rose or a star cluster—then he is in trouble.Most men spare themselves this trouble by keeping their minds on the small problems of their lives just as their society maps these problems out for them. These are what Kierkegaard called the “immediate” men and the “Philistines.” They “tranquilize themselves with the trivial”—and so they can lead normal lives.
~ Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death

 

Image credits: Imaginary Foundation

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Kevin, who also goes by the moniker ‘Techno-Optimist’, is a philosopher, futurist, researcher, lecturer, and the Executive Director of SeriousWonder.com. He enjoys educating and speaking optimistically about the future and technology. Follow him on Twitter @TechnoOptimist

8 Comments

  1. I never felt like this was about “never losing the ones I love”. To me it’s all about becoming the best I can, discovering things I never could otherwise, and overcoming the limitations of the human body and mind.

    I’m actually rather disappointed by Ray Kurtzweil when he talks about bringing back his father from the dead thanks to hyper advanced technology that would re-create him from sort sort of ghost image that he would have left in the world.

    Even if I could, I would not give eternal youth to anyone, including loved ones, unless I was certain that they could handle it and not become completely estranged to the world in 50 years or less, when it will have become completely alien to them – and parts of the current world are already alien to the older generations.

    Love is overrated. Or what people call love anyway. I call it psychological dependance.

    • I agree Sno…
      some people do not view death as something bad. it is sad, it can hurt and all of the things that go with it. some people look forward to their chance to sleep.
      Broken hearts and loss occurs whether you live forever or not.

      Kevin Russil, as a writer, have you gone through times of exploring yourself into pretty dark memories and experiences?

  2. Or, in essence, we create your heaven by the stimulation of your brain software according to what your heaven would be like for you. I am thinking that we might also need to make a way for that desire of heaven to be changed or re-manipulated if you got tired of your heaven or wanted something new. Or, at least give you the ability, the challenge to change that software itself….kind of like a robotic computerized system that can break out of its program.

    • Reminded me of “What Dreams May Come” with robin williams, need to re-watch that. but you raise interesting questions. I wonder if VR integration with something like Optogenetics will enable FIVR(Full, Immersion, Virtual, Realities) This would allow a world governed, and experienced solely by, and within your imagination(Tech mediated Lucid Dreams, in a way). My concept of mental hygiene comes into play when thinking about this. If we are creating tech that will allow us to step into our heads. Is everyone going to like what they find? We are in essence lifting the rug and opening every repressed memory as projections in this new dimension.

  3. What if we could simply give everybody something like a resemblance of living forever? would that be just as good? For instance, in this search for bodies and life eternal, if we could create a way to simply stimulate a part of the brain that is kept on…ice, say…so that one thinks that they are living in a real body? much like in the Matrix, only not keeping the entire body in all of those little casket like cylinders, but only that part of the brain that needs stimulating. This might then answer a question that I have that includes the balance of all upon the earth, i.e., our resources and a need of death to maintain a balance in which not every part of the globe is populated by humans who would make changes that effect the whole of the earth.

  4. It’s about time this sentiment has been championed: that we wish to eradicate involuntary death for the benefit of others first and foremost, the 100,000 people who die from age-correlated disease per day, and only secondarily for ourselves; that the desire to eliminate death comes from a desire to reduce suffering in the world at large. Kudos, Kevin. Far too often is indefinite longevity painted (quite baselessly) as vain and selfish; this is one of the more promiscuous misinterpretations I run into, and one of the most confused as well. I would argue that most researchers and advocates of indefinite longevity are more motivated by a desire to reduce global suffering than by the desire to live longer themselves.

    In line with this sentiment, see this touching poem by Hank Pellissier, “I Want My Daughter To Be Immortal”: http://immortallife.info/articles/entry/i-want-my-daughter-to-be-immortal

  5. We now live in an interesting time with an increasing incidence, especially in the developed world, of the opposite of partialization, digiphrenia. We try to take in everything from the rose to the star cluster, as well as all the current events information whizzing past our head, constantly. Our currently unaugmented wetware, beastware really, acts as the bottleneck vastly limiting our ability to take in this overpowering firehose of information, leading to various psychological and neurological syndromes.

    • @shagggz Well said, totally agree. Even language, our prominent mode to empathize with one another is low bandwidth. Its time to upgrade.

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