Who are we when we are not us?
I think about Mum who died with Alzheimer’s disease. I think of how in the end, she stared so very blankly. She looked like Mum, her hands were Mum. But the Mum I had grown up with, had already left.
And why stay here anyway, trapped in a body that no longer works? But what if her consciousness, with all her memories and personality could have been uploaded and saved, before the slow creep of amyloid plaque set in? What if an artificial brain could have been inserted and Mum downloaded again? Would that bypass the disease? I’m thinking such a large part of who we are resides in our heart that fixing the brain may not help? Or would it? Because her heart would have still been fine. Mum had an enormous ticker. But did her wonderful love reside in her heart? Or somewhere else?
Where does our consciousness reside? Is it inside, outside, within calling distance sometimes, and at others, not so much? Do the many accounts of out of body experiences, mean that consciousness can indeed float around nearby? Lurking? Witnessing?
I’ve been watching Blindspot on Netflix intermittently, people with amnesia have no idea of their likes, dislikes or what their body can do or has done. Their history is erased. So who do they become?
Is consciousness based on memory or does it run deeper, wider than that?
In the future, it is probable that our brains will be able to be uploaded into computers. Then downloaded into robots or at least robot human hybrids. Versions of this scenario are already happening as people become more involved on social media, happily passing huge swathes of information about themselves into the internet. We create avatars of and play games with those avatars. Is it such a giant leap. Sadly no, it’s little more than a shuffling step.
When we die, does consciousness die with us? And if so, how does that affect our brain which has been uploaded elsewhere? Is it possible our consciousness will simply be transferred to a mechanical body that is therefore impervious to disease and decay? Will we become immortal?
Where does that then leave religion? Spirituality? Morals? Ethics? Humanity?
Is this how we bypass not just disease but also the problem of consumption? Pollution? Environmental degradation due to the massive amounts of farming and grazing area that are required to feed an increasing population that is impervious to death?
Will procreation even be a thing?
What will happen to the natural world? Will everyone be hooked into a virtual world and creepers and trees reclaim the cities, or will robots stalk about gently tending to the bounty that is a natural world not so hard pressed to provide sustenance for humans?
I have so many questions. And none of these are ridiculous. All of this and more is coming toward us, at a pace that we haven’t been able to get ahead of to date. It’s alarming and interesting and weird to think about.
So I’m passing the thoughts onward and outward for you to chew over. Have a lovely day.
23 thoughts on “An endless amount of questions with no answer”
Hmm, could a computer or machine ever capture a person’s essence? Of course, I hate technology and resent the fact that computers are necessary for writers–a couple pluses–research and outreach, I guess. Not sure they are worth it even for that–so much bad about them. Who knows, I guess.
Technology is great used well – the paralysed can walk again, the blind could see, nano technology will be released into systems and replace diseased or dysfunctional cells. I’m just please not to have to make the decisions – it’s like playing God and that never ends well.
Kate, I’m sorry you lost your Mum to Alzheimer’s. It’s a cruel disease. We are experiencing it in our own family. The advancements in technology are happening at a pace more staggering than we can imagine in our day to day. I also believe that technology, in all of its advances, will be one major cause of the fall of humanity. My soul will continue and tarry on and my faith is secure. I imagine all the wonderful advancements that COULD take place and alleviate some things that plague us. As a traumatic brain injury survivor with cognitive impairment, it would be a delight to gain back memory with an upload. On another twist, we seem so robotic in our day to day that some have already lost the soulful spirits that kept us connected as humans. We shop from our homes on computers, droids can deliver what we need, we communicate via waves, etc…I haven’t watched Blindspot, but I’m interested. I watched a movie with Tom Hanks recently on Apple TV titled “Finch”–it’s very interesting. Your words reminded me of this movie. Take care my friend! Thank you for a thought-provoking piece (with great writing as always). 🤍🤗
Lovely thoughtful response Karla, as always. Technology can be used for good or evil, it’s just a tool. The trouble with inventing such tools is that humans use them – as we have seen with guns, the intent behind the tool, or even the lack of thought (accidents) can lead to death and destruction: whatever the outcome though I think there will still be people who survive with their faith and ethics and spirituality intact and those that are already lost. All these advances yet still nothing changes because at a fundamental level the issue is human. It does raise a lot of questions though.
Thank you, Kate. Us humans really can make things messy! I always appreciate your wisdom and perspectives. ❤
I love our morning chats 😊
Me too ❤
This is a thought-provoking article!
Ha! Yes I provoked a lot of thoughts in myself, but not many answers. Consciousness and identity are two different things though – I’ve made it that far, consciousness can be purified with enough effort, enlightened ones have done this, identity cannot, as it is the very example of being stuck in a certain frame, then again identity can escape itself through consciousness …the questions continue 😊
I knew a lady who died at 101 years. For at least 10 she was in a world of her own. Thinking about my lovely friend one day it occurred to me that the part of her which seemed lost and far away might actually already be with her beloved Saviour, so I prayed what mean a childish prayer that if that was the case and she was part of the time in God’s garden she would tell someone about his flowers. Her daughters who cared for her her were telling this story next day. Their mom was telling them about the lovely roses and naming the flowers she was seeing one by one.. true story just to provoke your thoughts
Love this. We have no idea where someone else’s consciousness is, perhaps when they are non verbal it is because they have shifted into an alternative space that we cannot access but their mind drifts between. Perhaps the connections are still there but at a different level. Thankyou, I always felt Mum was with me still, just in a different way.
Very thought-provoking, Kate! Only those who have passed on to a higher consciousness, like your mother, have all the answers.
So true. It doesn’t stop me wondering though.
these are very good and disturbing questions; I am scared to death of alzheimers but have been comforted by research that shows regular exercise lessens the likelihood of aging and dementia 🙂
I have heard that and I exercise like a demon believe me! But Mum led an active life. Some things just can’t be prevented though each case of Alzheimer’s is different.
probably more complex than we think 🙁
There’s a Johnny Depp movie closely aligned with those thoughts – “Transcendence” – which you may find interesting. Aside from that, though, I think it’s been shown that memory also resides in the physical aspects, like the heart. Our beings – both the tangible and intangible – are much deeper than we know. We can capture some aspects of ourselves in artificial means, but technology will never truly capture who we are.
I haven’t seen that movie, I’ll track it down thanks Yacoob and yes, I believe memory is an all of body experience, why else would we experience muscle memory once a skill is learned and the gut as well as the heart recall things that the mind has forgotten, I know that from personal experience. Thankyou for your thoughts they have triggered even more of my own 😊
Kate, aside the fact that your every word and thought was heartfelt , I wanted to tell you about a documentary“Kiss the ground “ that talks about what you just said about farming and how our planet could heal. Hope is beautiful, and as always, I am hopeful that technology would not separate humanity of their souls and hearts, but will build on it. Love to you, A.
And sorry for the typos !:)))
Hi Andrea, lovely to hear from you, “Kiss the Ground” is that the one with Woody Harrleson in it? I haven’t seen it but yours is the second reminder to watch it – will do so today. You are right about having hope, and I am hopeful for the future, I don’t think technology can separate us from our souls but I have concerns that we may do that to ourselves
Stay well 💕
Yes, that’s the one! You too, have a wonderful weekend XOXO