Within the next few decades, humanity may be able to achieve a sort of immortality by merging our minds with machines, according to a prominent futurist.
This could mean we live on through androids even after our bodies die, allowing us to attend our own funerals, and get back to life with a ‘highly upgraded body.’
But, according to Dr Ian Pearson, it could also mean you no longer own your mind.
The expert warns a shift toward ‘electronic immortality’ will require careful planning – otherwise, our cloud-connected brains could be used for purposes beyond our control.
In a new blog post, Dr Pearson says human intelligence, memory, or senses could be connected to external technology by 2050.
Rather than creating a backed up copy of your mind, most of your intelligence would simply be running from a place outside of your physical brain.
‘It isn’t uploaded, it simply grows into the new platform seamlessly and as far as you are concerned, it is very much still you,’ Pearson writes.
‘One day, your body dies and with it your brain stops, but no big problem, because 99% of your mind is still fine, running happily on IT, in the clouds.
‘Assuming you saved enough and prepared well, you connect to an android to use as your body from now on, attend your funeral, and then carry on as before, still you, just with a younger, highly upgraded body.’
As this would require the use of a purchased or rented android and cloud space ultimately owned by a tech company, however, the expert says we could run into problems with the fine print.
Companies could use it to ‘enslave’ workers after their deaths, according to Pearson, by maintaining ownership of the mind for their own benefit down the line.
Maybe the cloud company could replicate your mind and make variations to address a wide range of markets,’ Pearson writes.
‘Maybe they can use your mind as the UX on a new range of home-help robots. Each instance of you thinks they were once you, each thinks they are now enslaved to work for free for a tech company.’
A similar scheme could take place within company medical plans, or even families that may want to keep you around against your wishes.
It all ultimately comes down to planning.
‘Get it right, and you can live in deluxe cyber-heaven, hopping into the real world as much as you like and living in unimaginable bliss online,’ according to Pearson.
‘Have too many casual taster sessions, use too much fully integrated mind-sharing social media, sign up to employment arrangements or go on corporate jollies without fully studying the small print and you could stay immortal, unable to die, stuck forever as just a corporate asset, a mere slave.’