Imagine for a second that science succeeds in copying a person’s consciousness to a computer… and that person is you. Suddenly, you’re face-to-screen with an exact copy of yourself, complete with your exact personality and memories. From this moment on though, you start to diverge, and become your own separate “people.”
What would you say to this copy of you?
It’s almost impossible to fathom. I’d probably start by just trying to pick my jaw up off the floor. Once I managed that, I’d have to explain to my digital consciousness what just happened – that I’m now a computer.
But then what? What would you say to yourself that needs saying?
Part of me thinks I’d be most interested in how the little things shake out. Like, if we partnered together in a game of cards, would we make a good team? Or if we were to look at a photo, would we appreciate the exact same things about it?
Beyond that though, I’d have to ask my new self what its plans are. What will you do now that you could be around forever? I can’t fathom it, so maybe my new self wouldn’t be able to either. It’d have to be something for the betterment of humanity. But what does that look like? What does bettering humanity mean? Does it mean sticking everyone’s consciousness into a computer? No idea.
To be honest, I think that once the initial shock of talking to another version of myself has worn off, we’d both be pretty bored about it. Think about it: you’re talking to a person with your exact same memories, personality and intelligence. You already get each other, and you have no stories to tell that either of you hasn’t already experienced personally.
What would be interesting, though, is to talk to that version of myself five years down the road, when it’s had the chance to accumulate some experience separately from me. I’d ask it what it experienced. Where did it go? What cultures did it dive into? And how did people react when they realized what it was?
I think watching the personality change unfold differently from my own would be the most interesting thing. It’d be like getting to witness the Butterfly Effect firsthand – the choices you make differently from each other cause you to move in two different directions. It might be subtle, but the effect on your personality would still be there, and I’d be really curious to know how the “other” me has been shaped by his experiences differently than I have.
Wrapping it Up
If this sounds like science fiction to you, that’s because it is. But there are a number of people and companies out there currently working towards making this a reality. This story is just one of many on the subject.
I don’t know what made me want to write about this thought process right now, but it’s something I think about from time to time. It’s a big question mark and a big headache, the future of humanity. We’re depleting the Earth’s resources faster than we can replenish them right now, and I have no idea what the long-term solution is. People talk about this being one of them, and so I think about it sometimes.
But it’s too big a concept for me to wrap my head around fully, so rather than think about it as a solution for humanity, I find it interesting to break it down to a personal level, and imagine what it would be like.
Have you ever thought about it? What would you say to yourself if it were a completely different person? Would you give it any advice? What would you ask it? What do you think it would ask you? I’m curious to get other people’s takes on the subject. Share your thoughts in the comments!