It’s funny the kind of conversations you can have when tired and on a caffeine high driving down the Interstate at half past 10 at night. My wife and I were discussing her belief that humanity returning to its natural roots, whether in the consumption of organic matter (not that highly-processed stuff so many of us eat now) or a life with less reliance on technology, would lead to a greater spiritual connection with God.
We soon began discussing how our advancing medical technology may soon make it possible for humanity to replace failing organs with lab-grown substitutes or with artificial metal or plastic replacements. We soon began discussing whether a human whose memory is transferred to a machine would truly be considered human. This led to a question many have pondered before us; what does it mean to be human? Would a machine with all the memories, hopes, dreams, emotions, and foibles of a human being actually be a human being, or would it simply be a fancy copy? Can machines like Data from Star Trek, that exhibit awareness of their surroundings, demonstrate a desire for self-preservation, strive to better themselves, and to create more of their own kind, actually be conscious beings? Perhaps they are merely sophisticated machines, and that is all they are. How can we even measure consciousness when we cannot even define it for ourselves? Who’s to say that life and consciousness as we know it on Earth is the only kind that there is in this vast universe?
We discussed more than just these topics on our drive, including but not limited to: Organic machines, transferring human consciousness remotely to organic machines/machines to explore hostile environments, etc. But those are topics for another day!