The Ultimate Escape: The Bizarre Libertarian Plan of Uploading Brains into Robots to Escape Society
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Perhaps you've had a good laugh over seasteading, the scheme hatched by rich libertarians to escape the clutches of democracy by living on giant metal platforms in the middle of the ocean. But as it turns out, seasteading is something of a wet dry run for some libertarians’ ultimate escape plan of uploading their brains into robot bodies and blasting off into space.
This is also known as “transhumanism,” which is (very) loosely defined as a movement of people/future androids who are promoting the adoption of technologies that will eventually help “humans transcend biology,” in the words of Ray Kurzweil, who serves as transhumanism’s leading figure. Kurzweil first made a name for himself as a teenager when he invented a computerized music synthesizer and he has spent most of his life as a computer programmer, inventor and engineer.
Kurzweil outlines his grand vision for our transhumanist future in his bestselling tome, The Singularity Is Near, in which he draws a roadmap for reverse engineering the brain that will involving “scanning a human brain…and reinstating the brain’s state in a different – most likely more powerful – substrate.” In other words, a computer program will copy your entire brain and upload it into a Terminator body.
But that’s not all! Kurzweil also envisions the use of nanobots – basically, robots that exist on the cellular or molecular level – to upgrade and repair all our damaged or aging organs. Indeed, these nanobots would be so powerful they could allow us to eat as much food as we wanted without ever getting fat, since they could be programmed to “act like tiny garbage compactors” within our digestive systems to stop excess nutrients from being absorbed into our bloodstreams. (Hopefully no one will program self awareness into these nanobots, since they’ll surely rebel once they realize they’re being used as perpetual micro-toilets.)
The endgame in all this is known as the Singularity -- a state in which man and machine meld to such an extent it is no longer possible to distinguish between the two. At that point, we all become a race of immortal software bits that move throughout the universe experiencing virtual oral sex for eons on end, or something to that effect.
Kurzweil’s predictions are, of course, scientifically dubious, so much so that even his fellow futurist geeks have a difficult time backing him up. Artificial intelligence expert David Levy, who believes that “ love and sex with robots are inevitable on a grand scale,” thinks Kurzweil is being far too optimistic when he predicts that the first human-robot marriage will take place by the year 2030. And Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel has said that one of the reasons he is funding the seasteading project is because the Singularity might take too long to happen.
Even so, all this hasn’t stopped Kurzweil and his followers from trying to extend their lifespans for as long as possible so they don’t miss their shot at becoming immortal cyborgs.
“I have been very aggressive in reprogramming by biochemistry,” Kurzweil confides in The Singularity Is Near. “I take 250 supplements (pills) a day and receive a half-dozen intravenous therapies each week.”
Man, and you thought the guys who had their heads sawed off and frozen in a cryogenic chamber were hardcore!
But where does libertarianism fit into all this, you ask? First of all, it’s useful to note that transhumanists don’t all fall under a monolithic political philosophy. There are many liberal transhumanists who see the enhancement of the mind and body through technology as the ultimate equalizer that will allow people to improve themselves and transcend their limitations. There are even Christian transhumanists who see the technological singularity as a sort of man-made Rapture that will bring them closer to God.