Bioethics Blogs

Digital Immortality of the Future – Or, Advancements in Brain Emulation Research

By Kathy Bui

This post was written as part of a class assignment from students who took a neuroethics course with Dr. Rommelfanger in Paris of Summer 2016.
Kathy Bui is a 4th year undergraduate at Emory University, majoring in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology and Psychology. She hopes to pursue a PhD in neurobiology after graduation. Her current interests include social justice topics of class disparities and human health rights. 
Introduction: “How do you want to be remembered?” 
The fear of our looming death has haunted us since human life began. It’s not hard to believe that the quest of human immortality has not changed since Gilgamesh’s quest for immortality in 22nd century BC. However, with the technological strides in conjunction with ambitious billionaires, the cure to death may be closer than we think. Life expectancy has been steadily increasing over decades, and yet, Americans seem to look forward to the inevitable prospect of immortality. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 44% of Americans would want to extend their life to age 120 if given the opportunity [1, 2].

An integral part of human life is our biological death. We have sought to create artworks, legends, monuments that would outlive us – to show that we have made a mark on this world. In fact, they have: the Great Sphinx of Giza in Egypt, the Pantheon in Rome, and the Nanchan Temple in Wutai are only a few examples of the remaining buildings, surviving for centuries beyond their makers.
Interestingly enough, there is something else that has not only survived but is growing and expanding beyond expectation: the internet [3].

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.