Monday, December 19, 2016

A Modular Brain


This post originated in me wondering if humans like to kiss because the mouth is the part of the face, which perhaps is the part of the body most closely associated with our conscious self, the part of the mind where we mentally abide, our own internal living room  as it were (as if the face, including vision, were the primary window the conscious mind uses to connect to the world, whereas other means are more distant, like windows in a basement you can access but have to move your vantage point to do so). As opposed to your subconscious being more connected to other parts of your body, like your internal organs (things you can feel but normally are not aware of unless you are in pain, like your breathing or how your knee is operating, would occupy a boderline between the conscious and unconsious mind).

As I was thinking about this, an image of old Nintendo style game cartridges plugged into a human skull popped into my head, generating an idea that stemmed from that picture. What if it were possible to have a living human being with a modular brain, a plug & play system?

This is would be just one aspect of being a cyborg and is not really original to me. Perhaps possibly though it is original to think of writing a science ficiton story in which different parts of the brain could be mixed on a modular basis. So I could match the conscious mind of a human being with the limbs of an octopus. Or horse. Or an alien creature. Or a story could flip a subconscious so it operates machinery, while the conscious self perhaps believed it was still fully human. Or I could plug an alien conscious mind into human limbs, etc.


Or more narrowly, what if you could pick eagle eye input, bat sonar, and an elephant nose input to be fed into your brain? And the brain parts would be adapted in this form of plug & play to be able to process these unusual imputs and harmonize them into the whole system? Like a sort of mental USB that in these examples connected to exterior sensors?

What if wholly internal processes were subject to his same modularity? So you could adopt Vulcan logic as a plug-in and swap it out for a Klingon battle mindset when you needed it? (The possibilites would be endless.)


What if fine-tuning and customizing your own brain were a major industry of the future?

Whether this happened in some sort of cyberspace or in a futuristic cyborg reality would give nuances to what this story would actually be like. But I think writers usually think of our minds and or bodies becoming something else as a whole unit. Or more often, rather than trying to transform the way a human thinks in a story, they imagine what we would consider an ordinary human mind inside another kind of body--as if you could put your mind in a bear or a whale or something like that.

Imagine a story that did it differently. Where separate mental functions were plug & play and you swap them out as needed, as frequently as you wanted.  A modular brain.


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Friday, December 2, 2016

The Quantum God: Every One of You Who is in HEAVEN and in HELL


So, as discussed in the last post in this blog, what if a specifically Christian story took the many Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI) of Quantum Mechanics seriously?

What if God allowed to happen each and every moral choice human beings could make? So each alternative decision played out in one alternate universe or other? (This would include multiple versions of the Bible existing in different universes, as I mentioned in my last post.)

And what if, as I also said in my last post, God created every universe at a common starting point, then deliberately brought them back to a common end?

If that were true, if there were only one common heaven where God brought everyone back into a shared eternity, that would have a particular unusual effect. It would perhaps mean that there would be multiple versions of each person who believed in that common shared heaven. The believing you who got married for the first time at 20 and the one who waited until 39. The one who joined the military and the one who became a Quaker. The one who died in a horrible accident at age 7 and the one who lived to 97.

That would be a little strange to say the least, right? Seeing yourself in hundreds of alternative forms, possibly thousands or more? Though note that this version of Many Worlds would only split along moral choices and not along every single possible thing that could happen as in the standard MWI. There would not be millions of you--I wouldn't imagine that anyone actually has made that many decisions that are specifically of a moral character. (If you made just over 27 of such decisions every single day from the time of your birth until your death at age 100, you would just barely hit 1 million. Methuselah could have a million copies...but I doubt it.)

Even among the small-town-quantity of duplicate selves, it stands to reason that all of you would get along, even if you took wildly divergent paths in life (this is heaven we're talking about, after all, the essential issues making people fight being ironed out). And it would be very interesting to find out how your life would have turned out differently if you had done X instead of Y. You could perhaps spend at least ten thousand years catching up with what happened to other versions of you. I believe that each path would serve to demonstrate that doing things God's way in each and every decision would have been best and wisest.

Perhaps though instead of having multiple versions of you, God would perform a miracle that combined all different versions of yourself into one being. Perhaps then you would have as your own memories all the different choices you made in every lifetime in all the divergent universes, even if such memories contradicted one another. We can imagine that the enhanced mind of a person in heaven would be able to seriously out-think the limited minds of our current world, so perhaps having your mind full of the memories of other versions of you would not be so difficult to deal with as it might sound. Perhaps it would also have the effect of making just being you much more interesting than it ever was before, composing one of a number of things that would make boredom an unknown condition in eternity.


As interesting as it might be to contemplate the collective you in heaven, it might be more interesting to ponder what would happen to those of you who did not become Christian believers. Those who according to standard Christian doctrine (which holds that disbelief--or in some doctrinal systems, extreme moral corruption--is damning) are doomed to an eternal hell.

Note though that there have been dissenters to the view I just called "standard." Some Christians have believed that all people will wind up in heaven and others have maintained hell is temporary. To which the standard position sharply answers, "Why would there be warnings about hell if no one goes there?" and "Why would hell be temporary when the descriptions given of it talk about it enduring without end?" To which the other side responds with verses about God loving everyone in the world and wanting everyone to be saved. To which the standard reply is that yes, God loves everyone, but He is not going to take away the ability to make moral choices. Including refusing to choose to follow Him and suffering the consequences of that refusal.

Note how this story idea takes the idea of choosing to believe or not and gives it a twist. What if, for the purposes of making an interesting story, we propose that both things are true? Everyone does go to heaven, but also only those who believe (and obey) God go there. Which harmonizes by imagining that every single person has at least one version of himself or herself who believes, so that every single person in all of human history has at least one form of himself or herself in heaven. EVERY single person would go to heaven, yes, WHILE simultaneously everyone there would enter because of their moral choice (even though not all versions of every single person would be there, naturally).

Note that with the exception of Christ, there would also be versions of all of the human race in hell. What if (again, this is a story idea and not a doctrinal proposition) unlike heaven in which all believing versions would be somehow united in one place, hell had multiple versions? Perhaps a separate, individual "outer darkness" for each individual who did not come to faith? Perhaps then hell would be permanent only for the very worst moral versions of people?

I have observed that people who don't like the idea of hell often change their position when talking about someone like Adolf Hitler--people can accept the idea that Hitler belongs in hell, but will at the same time refuse to believe that a great many humans have hatred in their hearts like Hitler and would have followed him if given the chance. So what if Hitler and all the Hitler-like versions of ourselves suffered eternally, but not every version of everyone not in heaven did so? What if these other versions who were not the worst of the worst were simply wiped out? Or given the chance to reform somehow?

When mentioning a status between full, eternal hell and heaven, I realize that may sound like I am proposing some form of Purgatory on the one hand or execution of the soul on the other. Note I'm a Protestant and don't see clear evidence of Purgatory in the Bible, nor of soul death. I don't believe in either thing. I'm not promoting what I believe to be true, but as a science fiction writer I'm proposing that there may be things about the workings of God which are unknown to us to the degree that when we enter eternity, we will find things aren't really quite what we thought they were--that the universe works differently than we believed it did. 


IF there are multiple versions of each and every one of us (that's a big IF, but let's run with it) then perhaps there are whole new ways of looking at our reality that match what is written in the Bible we have--and even allows for multiple true versions of that Bible, based on choices the human beings within it made.  But gives the Scriptures interpretations no human being, living or dead, has ever imagined before now. 


Science fiction takes what could be possibly true from at least from one perspective, even if unlikely, and imagines that it really were true. Doing that within the scope of what the Christian Bible teaches is only very rarely even being attempted. Non-believers are either not interested in Christian teachings or wish to show them to be wrong, while Christian believers tend to hold back on fully exploring their faith through the lens of fiction.

To my fellow Christian speculative fiction writers: Why not imagine multiple hells and a bizarre and unexpected union of myriads of universes of choice in a single heaven? Why not imagine meeting yourself in heaven again and again, while other versions of you hope to escape from hell? Why not write it?


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