Quote of the Day: Immortality

Quoth happybadger

The time is 16:33 on 18 October, 2011 AD. In a fraction of a second after I click “save”, this comment will be readable by you- someone whom I have never met and who may be on the other side of a planet living in a country which I’ve only heard of from a Wikipedia article or brief mention on the BBC.

This comment will have travelled thousands of kilometres within a second of clicking save. Within minutes, it will be picked up by electronic spiders which comb the internet for new content and index it. Within an hour you should be able to google the first sentence of this paragraph and see my comment, within a day it should be on every search engine online.

If this comment goes viral, millions of people will be viewing it simultaneously and it will be rehosted many hundreds or thousands of times. You don’t know my name or anything about me, but you’ll have countless platforms to read the words I’ve written.

In a year, those same websites will still exist. The indexed passage will still exist. You can google the first sentence of this paragraph and find my comment. Within a decade every cell in my body will have recycled itself and I will effectively cease to exist as the same creature I am now, but these words will stay exactly as I wrote them. In under a century my cells will stop recycling and I’ll stop existing altogether, but these words will stay exactly as I wrote them.

As long as the data exists on some server in some data centre within some country on whatever planet we have colonised, my great-great-great grandchildren will read this comment as I wrote it more than a century before. Their great-great-great grandchildren, though they will have no idea who I was, will be able to read this comment as I wrote it in an age so barbaric that they can’t fathom living in it.

This comment will last as long as computers last, whether it gets one upvote or a thousand upvotes. If we don’t blow ourselves up before we leave Earth, we can assume that it will exist for thousands, if not millions, of years. Beings which are augmented through technology and natural evolution, so advanced that they’re an entirely different species than me, will either translate older languages or learn to speak my monkeytongue and read this comment in an environment I cannot possibly imagine.

It’s now 16:53, 18 October, 2011 AD, in Chicago, Illinois. I stopped halfway though this to get a drink. Water is still relatively clean and plentiful, and looking up the sky was a pale blue and free of smog. I’ll probably never leave this planet, let alone the solar system in which I’m writing this comment, and whoever and wherever and whatever and whenever you are you will have seen a perfect snapshot of this moment in time, one that was heard around the globe within a second and preserved for all eternity within a day. If the rest of this thread survives as well, you’ll have 477 other snapshots to read through as well- each of them perfectly preserved for as long as we remain civilised.

But seriously, true immortality is your own wikipedia page ;)


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