The Future

The Future

We present two narratives on the future of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, from the perspective of an observer looking back from 2070. In the first scenario, greenhouse gas emissions remained unchecked, the climate continued to warm, and the policy response was ineffective; this had large ramifications in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, with worldwide impacts. In the second scenario, ambitious action was taken to limit greenhouse gas emissions and to establish policies that reduced anthropogenic pressure on the environment, slowing the rate of change in Antarctica. Choices made in the next decade will determine what trajectory is realized.

This is what’s known as the “continuity of consciousness” problem.

Sure, we may eventually be able to cut, copy, and paste the essence of a person’s personality and memories to a digital substrate, but transferring the seat of consciousness itself may be an untenable proposition. Neuroscientists know that memories are parked in the brain as physical constructs; there’s something physically there to copy. But consciousness still eludes our understanding, and we’re not certain how it arises in the brain, let alone how we can transfer it from point A to point B. It’s also quite possible that subjective awareness cannot be replicated in the digital realm, and that it’s dependent on the presence and orientation of specific physical structures.

Mind uploading will likely require destructive atomic-scale scanning of the brain. It would be similar to the way teleportation is done in Star Trek. Indeed, one of the dirty little secrets of this sci-fi show is that the person being teleported is actually killed each time it happens, replaced by an exact duplicate who’s none the wiser. Mind transfers could be similar, where the original brain is destroyed, replaced by a digital being who’s convinced they’re still the original — but it would be a delusion.

By |2018-10-09T04:57:50+00:00November 18th, 2017|Our Story|
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