On Cyber-immortality


“Has it occurred to anyone that the internet is already something of a Singularity, and the wiki manifestation may be an early emergent bud of its salience?” someone asked.

1. I believe it has, except for the use of the word Singularity which remains undefined or ill-defined in these conversations.

The term has rather technical meanings in mathematics (theory of analytic functions) and physics (and cosmology/astrophysics), let alone in the characterization of individuals,  none of which meanings  may  be congruent with its usage here.

2. The so-called cyberspace created by the internet is indeed what you are referring to: an intangible field in space wherein is embedded all the knowledge, information,  ideas, and images that are generated by impulses provoked by digital impressions on the key-board.

3. Legible versions of this were the manuscripts of yore.

Audible versions of this included  gramophone records and magnetic tapes (cassette, reel-to-reel, etc.).

DVDs are both audible and visible persistence of the past.

4. What makes  the internet different  is that the substrate for the information-storage is not physical.

But one still needs something physical to retrieve the data.

It is, however, important not to identify/confuse  information retrievable by future generations with the currently living sources of information. When I am no more, my blog will still be accessible to those who may care to click on it, even some of my talks will be lingering as podcasts, just as Shakespeare is immortal in that his works are retrievable on the printed page, or even in some manuscripts. But my own body and mind, as that of the quotable bard – it would seem – will be gone for good or gone to God (whichever vision one prefers). So cyber-immortality is more like the volume in a library stack than returning for a re-birth or kneeling at the pearly gate  as religious traditions picture it.

V. V. Raman

April 24, 2010

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