Neuroscientist Explores the Ethical Quandries of a Digital Afterlife

Screen Shot 2016-07-17 at 10.14.45 PMNow imagine the resources required to simulate the brains of millions or billions of dead people. It’s possible that some future technology will allow for unlimited RAM and we’ll all get free service. The same way we’re arguing about health care now, future activists will chant, “The afterlife is a right, not a privilege!” But it’s more likely that a digital afterlife will be a gated community and somebody will have to choose who gets in. Is it the rich and politically connected who live on? Is it Trump? Is it biased toward one ethnicity? Do you get in for being a Nobel laureate, or for being a suicide bomber in somebody’s hideous war? Just think how coercive religion can be when it peddles the promise of an invisible afterlife that can’t be confirmed. Now imagine how much more coercive a demagogue would be if he could dangle the reward of an actual, verifiable afterlife. The whole thing is an ethical nightmare.

And yet I remain optimistic. –Michael Graziano, The Atlantic