By Alex Vikoulov
"Perhaps nature is our best assurance of immortality." - Eleanor Roosevelt
When we're watching an action movie, we might think that we're watching main characters through a bunch of explosions to an improbable happy ending, but it's just as accurate to say that we're watching the theory of Quantum Immortality illustrated over and over again.
In his book "Divided by Infinity", Robert Charles Wilson makes a clever twist to introduce the concept of Quantum Immortality by mentioning a fictional book by Carl G. Soziere "You Will Never Die", essentially describing a variant of the Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics:
"Consciousness, like matter, like energy, is preserved. You are born, not an individual, but an infinity of individuals, in an infinity of identical worlds. “Consciousness,” your individual awareness, is shared by this infinity of beings.
At birth, this span of selves begins to divide, as alternate possibilities are indulged or rejected. The infant turns his head not to the left or to the right, but both. One infinity of worlds becomes two; then four; then eight, and so on, exponentially. But the underlying essence of consciousness continues to connect all these disparate possibilities."
So Carl Soziere says it all in his book's title. YOU CANNOT DIE!
A thought experiment called the Quantum Suicide is a tweaked version of the Schrödinger's cat experiment which is performed on hypothetical self with a hypothetical self-terminating device such as a gun. When pointed to self the weapon is either deployed, killing the experimenter, or it makes an audible "click" and the experimenter survives. Oddly enough and subjectively speaking, you would survive any streak of shots.
As MIT astrophysicist Max Tegmark points out, macro objects display quantum properties of micro objects such as wavefunction, only from our perspective it's nearly impossible to observe. The Quantum Immortality hypothesis also implies that from your subjective perspective you can expect to live the LONGEST POSSIBLE LIFESPAN. Any time you "die" for external observers, your consciousness actually "migrates" to your other living conscious self in alternate reality.
This concept is brilliantly depicted in the movie "Mr.Nobody" in which an old man is about to turn 118 and in his last days as "the last mortal" on this Earth tries to remember under hypnosis his "multiple" lives. When he finally dies and upon his last breath, the time miraculously starts to move backwards and his whole life is "rewinded" back to his first breath.
One might make a logical conclusion that out of trillions of all possible lives you are set to live the longest until death is the only option. At your last heartbeat all other potential lives, where you had died "before", rendered non-existent and only the longest one becomes realized. At that tipping point you either: (1) are transported back in time to your birth, basically reincarnating to yourself (Mr.Nobody scenario/Friedrich Nietzsche's "Eternal Recurrence") or (2) switch the dimensionality of your consciousness since the stream of consciousness must continue to flow.
One could further argue that the latter occurrence may be more conducive to evolution of your core consciousness. I don't want to entertain the idea that your consciousness ceases to exist with your last heartbeat because if you exist NOW, you ALWAYS will in some form in this eternal NOW, as NOW is the only time there is. Since NOW is ever-present from experiential point of view and eternal from the modern physics perspective, your existence cannot turn into non-existence.
I also don’t really buy Tegmark’s argument that aging and death represent a gradual degradation of consciousness, such that you’re not really conscious anymore when the end comes. But then, that’s exactly what I would expect the Max Tegmark in my immortal branch of the wavefunction to say and experience. In the branch where I’m immortal, everybody else sees their consciousness degrade with time, but I keep on going, through a remarkable chain of quantum coincidences.
But is there any way to empirically prove the Quantum Immortality hypothesis? Actually, there may be one. No, I'm not going to advise you to replicate the Quantum Suicide at home, but pay attention to this: If, against all odds, you find yourself the oldest person on the planet, just like Nemo Nobody did in the Mr.Nobody, or amazingly enough, human immortality had become commonplace due to "immortality technologies" such as advanced gene-editing, nanotechnologies and mind-uploading (that's where we are headed in actuality), then you can be convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are, in fact, subjectively immortal.
What other ramifications to follow? Your subjective quantum immortality coupled with soon-to-be discovered indefinite life extension at the civilizational level would spell out that YOU ARE ACTUALLY TO LIVE FOREVER! One can also see a viable resolution to the so-called "Mind-uploading", or Star Trek "Teleportation" dilemmas, questioning whether in those instances you create a copy of yourself but kill yourself in the process. By analogy to the previous deliberations, it follows that your consciousness has to "migrate" to your living self, thus making the case for successful consciousness transfer in both methods of disembodiments.
On this note, my friend, I'd like to conclude and profess that you are to live forever as an individuated evolving consciousness in this illusory Matrix-like universe where nothing is what it seems.
- by Alex Vikoulov, founder & creative director of Ecstadelic Media (San Francisco, CA), futurist, philosopher, and media artist
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