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There have been a number of articles and discussions about what Immortality actually is. One of the most popular conceptions of Immortality is based on the notion of “the singularity” – a time when humans and technology merge to create beings that never die. I have had the privilege of seeing one of the original and most controversial protagonists of this theory, Ray Kurzweil speak on this topic and my recollection is that he wants to be amongst those lucky enough to live long enough to experience this augmentation of physical human capabilities.
Whilst it is certainly true that developments in nano-technologies and our understanding of the human physiology are all heading in the direction of longer lifespans, I believe that a more important definition of Immortality is already within our grasp. I recently read a BBC article suggesting that it will be possible to capture all our memories from our brains and transfer them to electronic machine storage. Once this becomes a reality, it will mean that we will have the ability to create an avatar capable of remembering and behaving exactly like its human equivalent.
Digital storage and communications technologies, combined with the growing array of sensors and tracking devices mean that the “digital trace” of our lives is becoming more and more comprehensive and accessible to future generations with the associated implications for the potential ongoing influence we might have after our death.
For me, this is the true definition of Immortality and the one that we think of when we remember influential historical figures whose lives and deeds have been captured in the hearts and minds of ensuing generations. Therefore, I think Immortality has always been within our grasp but the power of the digital age offers that opportunity for Immortality to many more people.