November 30, 2011
What percentage of my body needs to be alive in order for me to be considered a living person with full rights? Obviously a person can lose hair, teeth, limbs, kidneys, and whatnot, while still having rights. People in comas still have legal rights. Where is the limit?
I ask because my new plan for immortality is to keep a few skin cells in a petri dish to continue with my life after the rest of me dies. And I’ll store those cells inside a robot that continues to live forever. The robot will have four directives after my death.
- Keep my cells nourished/cloned and alive in the petri dish inside its body.
- Keep upgrading itself whenever there are advances in robot technology.
- Replicate my personality.
- Make the world a better place.
As a public figure, and a writer, it would be easy for a robot to piece together a reasonable facsimile of my personality. The robot would have access to all of my writing, so it would know my sense of humor, my thought processes, and even how I choose words. The Internet has photos of me, video clips, audiobooks I’ve narrated, and most of my life story. In time, as technology improves, the robot could learn to speak and respond just as I do now.
There might be some issues with a robot accessing my bank account and investments once my only living parts are in a petri dish. That’s why I’ll set up a trust before I die, so a regular human can distribute my finances upon the robot’s requests. But the human will rarely be needed because the robot will have all of my financial passwords and access to the Internet.
Robots can already walk upright with as much balance as a human. They can open jars, comprehend their surroundings (somewhat), and understand spoken language (Siri). Battery technology will continue to give them range, and they can learn to recharge themselves.
Any decent robot will have a wireless connection to the Internet and be able to search for new advancements in robot technology, especially in the field of artificial intelligence. For the first fifty years of the robot’s autonomous life, the trust I will set up might need to make the final decisions on which robot upgrades make sense. I can imagine the trustee hiring a robot technology consulting company once a year to recommend upgrades and do routine maintenance. At some point, the robot will be capable enough to take over its own upgrade function.
After my scheme goes into effect, Congress will try to modify the law to say a few cells in a petri dish do not qualify as a living human with rights. When my robot gets wind of that, he’ll leap into action, hiring lobbyists and lawyers, and creating online petitions. The robot will be programmed to vigorously defend the rights of my living cells. Cough, cough **Skynet** cough.
If my robot is destroyed or imprisoned, that’s no problem. His software would always be fully backed up in the cloud and a second set of my living cells would be maintained in another location outside the country. In the event of my primary robot’s demise or detainment, my trustee would be instructed to purchase a new robot from the robot factory, order some cloned cells from my backup petri dish, and recreate me.
Why wouldn’t this plan work?