Computers Keeping Our Minds Alive After We Die? Stephen Hawking Says Yes
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redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
Stephen Hawking does not believe in the conventional version of the afterlife, but he does believe that technology could someday allow our minds to live on once our bodies are gone.
Speaking at the UK’s Cambridge Film Festival following the premiere of a biopic of his own life, the 71-year-old cosmologist told reporters – including Nick Collins, Science Correspondent with The Telegraph, that a person’s consciousness could theoretically be kept operational outside of a person’s head.
“I think the brain is like a program in the mind, which is like a computer, so it’s theoretically possible to copy the brain onto a computer and so provide a form of life after death,” Hawking said Thursday night, according to MSN.com. However, he also noted that doing so is well beyond the scope of currently-available technology.
The Oxford-born scientist, who earlier last week also came out in favor of assisted suicide for the terminally ill, went on to refer to the theological concept of the afterlife as “a fairy tale for people afraid of the dark.” Hawking was diagnosed with motor neuron disease at the age of 21 and was told he had no more than three years to live.
According to The Guardian, Hawking also discussed his condition during the premiere, using his specially developed computerized voice to tell those in attendance, “all my life I have lived with the threat of an early death, so I hate wasting time.”
Regarding that voice, the man who developed it, Walt Woltosz, was also in attendance at the film festival, according to the Huffington Post’s Caroline Frost. He said that Hawking had been offered a new version of the voice, sporting a British accent, on several occasions but has consistently turned it down.
As for the biopic itself, it “explores the headlong rush of a brilliant schoolboy with illegible handwriting who enjoyed the dilettante life of Oxford University before illness sparked a lifelong frenzy of discovery about the origins of the universe, which began as a graduate at Cambridge University and has astounded the world,” the Guardian said.
Hawking also went on Twitter to answer questions about the project following the premiere, calling it “somewhat strange” to make a film about his own life, but adding that he hopes those who saw it “found my story in some way inspiring,” Frost said.
He was also asked by one young fan which superhero he would like to be. Hawking answered Superman, because “He is everything I am not… I would love to be able to leap from building to building and I had a crush on Margot Kidder who played Lois Lane,” the Huffington Post reporter added.