Our final destiny, immortals?

We began evolving from the very first instant of the Big Bang, and shall continue to do so until the end of the universe. The universe will come to and end at some point, one way or the other, it is not eternal. What will we have become by then? Can we somehow survive after the universe has gone? Or will technology enable us to prevent the universe from ending? Will we become immortal or will the human race end with the end of the universe? Will it all have been for nothing?


If at that time of the end of the universe we are still flesh and blood, the answer is clear, we will die with the universe. But can we imagine a scenario in which we are no longer flesh and blood? In order to explore this possibility let's first examine how we became what we are today and then attempt to extrapolate from that what we may become.

At the moment of creation of the universe - the Big Bang - the universe consisted of a cosmic fireball of radiation at a temperature of 1,000 billion degrees Kelvin. Matter could not exist at this temperature, the universe was far too hot for anything but radiation. As the universe expanded and cooled the first atoms of helium and hydrogen were formed. Once formed, the processes began that led to the formation of galaxies, stars, planets and life, according to the physical laws of the universe. See The Big Bang Theory Life on Earth started with very simple single cells that gradually evolved into the vast multitude and complexity of life that we have on Earth today.

It could be argued that life started with the single cell, but it must be remembered that the single cell has its beginnings firmly rooted in that initial sea of radiation in the cosmic fireball, as does everything else in the universe. We can trace our own beginnings all the way back to that radiation. That's how we started out in the universe, we were the universe. What we have evolved into, intelligent life, allows us to examine the universe and ourselves as two separate entities, even though we come from the same beginning. We see ourselves as existing in the universe, not as part of it, but we are. See Is there a reason for our existence? This is where we are today, what of the future?

The future is at best always a guess, and I would guess that physically we won't change that much. In the past it has always been Darwin's survival of the fittest and climate changes that have shaped our evolution, but these factors just don't have the same effect on us today. Fitness is no longer a requirement for survival of the hunter-killer, we can simply drive to the supermarket and fill a trolley with food, which is just as well for most of us. We are well adapted to the environment, and when it becomes unsuitable we simply modify our environment (air conditioning, central heating, etc). Physically then, not much is likely to change, so in this respect we are all doomed.

Our only hope therefore is with technology. Could we possibly become clever enough to manipulate the universe in time to prevent its death? Seems a tall order, but not to be completly dismissed. The major problem with this however, is that the only energy available to us must come from within the universe, we can't pop outside and bring some in. The energy required to control the expansion of the universe must be at least equal to the total energy possessed by the universe.

What then will become of us? Will we ever become immortal, or will the human race simply cease to be?


What do I think?

Our physical bodies do not last long, and even with transplants and prosthetics, we cannot expect to live forever, everything wears out eventually. I think that our future development depends upon our intelligence, it is the one thing that separates us from all other life on this planet, and this may indicate the path our future development could take.

Predicting future outcomes however, is nothing more than guesswork, and is often wrong. Nobody for example foresaw the development of the silicon chip, and that changed everything. Take a look at old black and white science fiction films, they show space ships being operated by dials and levers. In todays films the dials and levers have been replaced by computer screens and keyboards (Star Trek) or by voice activated self-aware intelligent computers (HAL in "2001:A space odyssey"), You can imagine in say fifty years time they will look back at '2001' and laugh because we had not foreseen....whatever. Trying to predict next year's developments in computer technology is virtually impossible, trying to predict events thousands of years into future is clearly impossible.

However, computers may offer an interesting possibility. We are already at the stage where we can communicate with computers by voice. My iMac for example, understands and performs my verbal instructions, most of the time, and on occasion will 'verbally' inform me of the stupidity of my instructions. Military jets respond to the pilot's thoughts and will launch missiles and perform manoeuvres via thought commands through a special helmet that is wired into the cockpit. The next step will most likely do away with the helmet. I think the time is not that far off when we will all be able to directly interact with the computer by thought alone via a transmitter/receiver micro-chip in our heads, no wires required. I understand that this work is already in the development stage. No monitor or keyboard will be required, interaction being directly from our heads to the computer and vice versa. As for the next stage in computer development, as I said earlier, that's impossible to know, but we could make a guess or two.........

So far in this section, as in all other pages, I have kept to known and near technology, and stuck to the facts, but what comes next can only be pure guesswork. I have tried to imagine what could happen, but it's no more than food for thought, so think on........this is just for FUN.

Computer hardware will become ever smaller and will eventually no longer require silicon chips and hard drives. Instead they will consist of nothing more than a few carefully arranged atoms that will operate at the quantum level, (SeeWhat is Quantum Mechanics? ) as will the 'chip' in our heads. (Quantum computers are already in development, but at this early stage still require a lot of hardware) We will no longer see computers and will barely be aware of them, but will interact with them constantly in our day to day lives through our quantum chips. Everybody fitted with the quantum chip will have access to almost instant information and to each other. Advances in technology will accelerate at an unbelievable pace. We will reach a stage where it will be impossible to differentiate between us and computers, we will be virtually be one and the same thing and no longer even consider their existence. Eventually computers will not even have an independent existence, we will have completely absorbed them into our quantum chip as they become so small. What we will have become is no longer contained within our organic brain - that now merely controls our bodily functions - but we will have become our quantum chip, because all our thoughts, memories and thinking processes will be contained within it. All those with the 'chip' will eventually become to think as one. The next advance is almost inevitable, the transfer of our quantum chip data, our thoughts, memories - ourselves - into a machine. We each become a robot, a machine made of metal, plastics and electronics.

We now exist inside a machine, no more flesh and blood, we have no further need of it. The body would have served its ultimate purpose, which was the creation of an intelligent brain. The brain had only one purpose, the existence of its intelligence independent of the body with all its inherent weaknesses. Life has only one goal - to survive - and the ultimate form of survival must be independence from the vulnerability of flesh and blood. We become a form of computer, not a computer, but something far greater than a computer could ever become. See Will computers become self aware? You could perhaps call it an intelligent self-aware super computer, only it isn't, because it's us.We never succeeded in making an intelligent self-aware computer, we became it, and in the process went far beyond that.

From within our artificial containers we collectively learn to adjust to our new form of existence, and without the limitations imposed upon us by our physical bodies are at last finally free to think without fear or restraint. The result is the final stage of our evolution, the ability to make the last transfer, out from the constraints of those few remaining atoms that bind us, and into the vastness of the universe. We 'download' into the quantum virtual particles that are the very fabric of the universe. This becomes our final home.

We will have come full circle and become the universe again, only now the universe is intelligent and self-aware. As the universe now possesses control, it will not come to and end, it's far too intelligent to allow that to happen.

So we become immortal, but along the way we leave behind the very essence of what is was that made us human. To answer the original question, will the human race become immortal, the answer is no, it will not. It is the universe that will survive, and that was the plan all along. (see below***)

Fanciful? yes, of course it is, but as I said, it is food for thought isn't it? And fun. But is it possible? Your guess is as good a mine, but why not? No doubt though the truth, as always, will be far stranger. Anyway, who's to say it couldn't happen?

I expect someone will.


***NB. The 'plan' did not exist at the beginning, at the Big Bang, because the universe could not have a plan without intelligence. Having gained intelligence it gained the 'plan' and with it the means to have caused its own creation. The universe was created because it would eventually develop intelligence that would bring about its own creation. John Wheeler "In search of the edge of time" and "Schrodinger's Kittens" takes the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum theory at face value and applies it to the entire universe. He suggests that the wave function of the entire universe - right back to the Big Bang - only collapsed into reality once the universe was observed, and this observation brought both it and ourselves into existence. See What is Quantum Mechanics?


Update. November 26th 2001:


Date Released: Monday, November 26, 2001

Weizmann Institute

A Trillion Computers In A Drop Of Water- Scientists build a nanoscale computing machine using biological molecules.

A group of scientists headed by Prof. Ehud Shapiro at the Weizmann Institute of Science has used biological molecules to create a tiny computer - a programmable two-state, two-symbol finite automaton - in a test tube. Reported today in Nature, this biological nanocomputer is so small that a trillion (1,000,000,000,000) such computers co-exist and compute in parallel, in a drop the size of 1/10 of a milliliter of watery solution held at room temperature. Collectively, the computers perform a billion operations per second with greater than 99.8% accuracy per operation while requiring less than a billionth of a Watt of power. This study may lead to future computers that can operate within the human body, interacting with its biochemical environment to yield far-reaching biological and pharmaceutical applications.

The computer's input, output, and 'software' are made up of DNA molecules. For 'hardware,' the computer uses two naturally occurring enzymes that manipulate DNA. When mixed together in a solution, the software and hardware molecules operate in harmony on the input molecule to create the output molecule, forming a simple mathematical computing machine, known as a finite automaton. This nanocomputer can be programmed to perform several simple tasks by choosing different software molecules to be mixed in solution. For instance, it can detect whether, in an input molecule encoding a list made of 0's and 1's, all the 0's precede all the 1's.

'The living cell contains incredible molecular machines that manipulate information-encoding molecules such as DNA and RNA in ways that are fundamentally very similar to computation,' says Prof. Shapiro of the Institute's Computer Science and Applied Mathematics Department and the Biological Chemistry Department. 'Since we don't know how to effectively modify these machines or create new ones just yet, the trick is to find naturally existing machines that, when combined, can be steered to actually compute.'

Maybe I'm not so mad?

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