Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Out of Body Experiences

I was extremely confused when I first dove into Schild's Ladder. I know we were warned about the writing style beforehand, but I was still a little confused.

By the sounds of things, consciousness can travel between different forms in this novel. A living entity can start out in a physical human body, and transfer itself (memories, active thoughts, etc.) into another form, whether it be a mechanical body or a plethora of nano-sized clones. There is no limit to the boundaries which can be crossed, or so it seems.

Having just dove into the book, these thoughts raise a few questions. First of all, how is it possible?! It seems as if they just will themselves into other forms, which by present standards would be one miraculous feat of mind power. I think it would be rather difficult to force my consciousness into another physical form, whether I have some sort of technological aid in doing so or not. Why would I want to change my form, anyway? I can see some implications of immortality... if you were to transfer yourself into a fresh cybernetic body every time your old one got damaged/defective, you could potentially live for an eternity. The whole "transference of consciousness" reminds me of the ghosts in Ghost in the Shell.

Next question... how long did it take to develop such a technique? Is this something that has been researched for generations before it was perfected, or was it a gift from another species from around the vast universe? I know we're pretty handy with technology and continuing to advance, but there comes a point when fiction and reality cross and fight with each other. Personally, I don't think this is something we'll be able to craft up anytime soon, if at all.

The time limits for some of these forms seems incredibly short. Picoseconds? That's not a lot of time, folks. Not a lot of time at all. Yet they make it seem like it's an eternity in Schild's Ladder. This confuses me.

I'm sure I'll get some answers as I continue reading, but I thought I'd throw some of that out for other people to think about.


Josh said...

I have the same doubt about the possibility of the technology this describes and agree with your assessment regarding its implausibility. This type of technology is incomprehensible and realistically seems very unlikely, but much of the science fiction in this class dealt with unrealistic futures. This story, in particular, is set in a future that is 20,000 years ahead of ours. However, creating such a distance only seems to be another form of deus ex machina, a plot devise to try to easily explain the questions you present. As far as I am concerned, it is a kind of cheat because, seriously, anything is possible if you give it a long time (evolution, anyone?); right?
For me, this is wrong. Placing the story in a world that is so far from ours does not make it more likely; instead, it just makes it easier to refure doubt (I mean, we're talking a long time here). There is no guarantee that the earth, or humanity, will last this long (more so for those who doubt evolution). But, who seriously cares about realism? It's just science fiction, right?

Dani said...

I agree I doubt humanity will be around that long either. But yeah it totally reminded me of GITS. There was this episode in the series where this russian female spy was OLD and yet she was portrayed as a hot sexy lady. The head of section 9 called her a "sexy grandma" at one point. She body hopped around and no longer resembled what she originally looked like. This would be so strange to imagine, even know current technology is creating face transplants and such. Weird.
As for other forms...I don't know sometimes I think it's be fun to take on another form, like a cat or an item of some sort. Fun FUN