The last time Dyson spheres got a lot of mainstream media attention was a few years ago when Tabby’s Star (also known as KIC 8462852) was discovered to be unexpectedly dimming and one of the more unusual proposed causes was that a giant Dyson sphere built by an intelligent species was surrounding the star to harvest its energy. That one got less scientific support than dust or remnants of an exomoon orbiting it, but it allowed many people to learn about Freeman Dyson’s theoretical structure. It’s time to add to your knowledge and admiration of Dyson’s spheres with some new information – a new paper proposes that Freeman’s idea could also be the key to human immortality. Do you have to sit in it like a pyramid?
“Death seems to be a permanent event, but there is no actual proof of its irreversibility. Here we list all known ways to resurrect the dead that do not contradict our current scientific understanding of the world. While no method is currently possible, many of those listed here may become feasible with future technological development, and it may even be possible to act now to increase their probability.”
A paper self-published by Alexey Turchin, a transhumanist who studies the possibility of extending human life, and scientist and transhumanist Maxim Chernyakov, looks at ways of using technology to bring the dead – or at least their consciousness -- back to life. The transhumanism philosophy is often compared to science fiction for its focus on enhancing the human condition through technology, but it has many supporters in the current fields of nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive science, as well is in the future-looking areas of simulated reality, artificial intelligence, superintelligence, mind uploading, chemical brain preservation and cryonics. Hence the interest in these two transhumanists in immortality through technology. But why a Dyson sphere?
“4.4.1. Resurrection via quantum random generator
Almond suggested the following idea about resurrection of all people who ever lived: the use of a quantum random generator, which creates a random mind within a computer (Almond, 2006). If the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics is true, all possible minds will appear in separate timelines starting from the moment of random mind creation, which will mean resurrection of everyone from his own point of view. However, this approach will not help an outside observer, who wants to resurrect a relative, for instance, as the observer would see only a random mind. This could be called immortality-for-self (more on this below). This approach is computationally simple as it requires just one mind simulation.”
In Section 4 of their paper, titled “Reconstruction by Superintelligent AI,” the authors refer to papers written by Paul Almond in the field on mind uploading and quantum immortality -- sequences of quantum events that allow consciousness to continue after physical death. An AI machine of that magnitude would require the power of a star – which could only be harnessed, according to their theory, by a Dyson sphere. Creating one around our Sun might be dangerous to the living, so they propose it surrounding a nearby star, which of course would require a massive amount of power to get to, necessitating a Dyson sphere … you can see where this is going. The paper then gets into theoretical discussions of resurrecting all minds versus resurrecting just yourself, and the idea that it helps to lower expectations of creating an identical copy of one’s consciousness by shooting for ‘close’ – not exactly the immortality most people would desire.
The Dyson-powered immortality is just on section of the paper and its highly theoretical nature is much more difficult to comprehend and defend than the other “resurrection” techniques discussed like cryogenics, which is already in Phase 1 – freezing the dead – but a long way from Phase II – reviving the dead. Then there’s the ethics of all of these theories, which is a discussion on par with politics – best avoided at family gatherings.
In any case, it’s always nice to see Freeman Dyson and his creation in the news. Perhaps one day he can be resurrected and read about himself again.