A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste
If in the future, we have the ability to save minds from disease and decay, should we make them immortal by housing them in new bodies every three decades? Or should we let them die to make room for new minds? What if overpopulation were not an issue? Or if we could house the minds in computers? Should we keep minds alive forever? I say yes, we should.
Don't you think it is more tragic for a fully developed personality to die rather than for a new 'potential one' not to be born? Let the people who already live continue to exist. And keep new ones from being born. Sterilization (voluntary) would solve that problem. All future births could be sterile. Parenthood—having children—would become something to read about rather than experience firsthand. Or we could inhabit and populate other planets. Perhaps by the time we could become 'immortal', the technology that would make living on Mars will also have been developed.
Why let the already developed personalities live on instead of replacing them with new ones? Because the mind gets better over time. If it is possible to keep the brain healthy and free of disease, then the benefits of a mind that is full of knowledge and experience is of great worth for both historical and practical reasons, and would only become more valuable over time.
It seems like a huge loss for someone's mind, which spends its whole life getting better, to have to decay and die. Why shouldn't the journey continue, forever? People look at the past through nostalgic lenses, stating, oh I wish I lived in the 20s, or 50s. In the future, we could live through hundreds of decades. Think what this experience and information would afford us. The utility of a super intelligent mind can't be overstated. Think if Einstein were still alive. Or other brilliant philosophical, scientific, or literary minds such as Thomas Jefferson, Shakespeare, or Beethoven. What technologies and discoveries and wisdom could they impart if they were still churning out creative works and brilliant ideas today? A mind is a terrible thing to waste. The body is just a vehicle to house the mind. It is replaceable. The mind is unique, irreplaceable. Give me a new body. Or house my brain's data in a computer. Just let my mind live on forever.
Do we need new blood to have fresh ideas? Do old minds become rusty? Or are these just stereotypes—assumptions not based on evidence? How do we know that these geniuses wouldn't still actively be producing output for hundreds or thousands of years? It would be worth finding out. But not all of us are geniuses, right? Does that mean our minds are not just as valuable? Not really. Most minds are worth saving.
What about heaven? Wouldn't an afterlife offer a form of immortality for my mind? Yes. But heaven is an illusion—a product of wishful thinking. If it can't be proven to exist, it most likely doesn't. I'm putting my money in science—the natural world. The supernatural world is for dreamers. I am a realist.
Companion piece: A Disembodied Mind
From 2005: Mind Transferring
Ray Kurzweil — Immortality by 2045
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