You Might Be Able to Upload Your Mind Into an Android Body by 2050

If you could upload your mind into the cloud, would you want to?. Shan Sheehan/Flickr

Attention immortality seekers: your day may soon arrive. According to engineer and futurist Ian Pearson, it will be possible to stream your consciousness into the cloud by the year 2050. You should then be able to transmit your electronic mind into a new android body, or, if you prefer, float around in virtual reality.

Pearson calls it "electronic immortality," and in a new blog post he outlines exactly how he predicts this new technology will come afoot.

It won't be like uploading software or a file to the cloud. Rather, it will come along subtly as you integrate your mind with your technology and with augmented reality more and more over time. Eventually, you will be so integrated with your information technology that your mind will be running as much in that external space as within your brain and body. Your experiences will still feel like "yours," because of the seamless transition, even though your brain won't be necessary hardware anymore.

As Pearson writes: "One day, your body dies and with it your brain stops, but no big problem, because 99% of your mind is still fine, running happily on information technology, in the cloud."

From there, it ought to be possible to then insert your mind into a new body — a younger, upgradable android body — or even swap bodies around as you see fit. It sounds a bit like something out of an episode of "Black Mirror," but Pearson believes it's not only feasible, but also right around the corner.

Things could get wacky

Before you start signing your soul away within the captcha-encrypted box, however, Pearson warns that electronic immortality might not be everything it's cracked up to be. For one, android bodies aren't likely to be provided for free. Bodies might become like apartments — spaces that you rent. If you can't pay up, you might end up floating aimlessly in the cloud. Even more dire, space on the cloud might not be free either.

So what happens if you can't pay for your own cloud space and/or your android body? It might become the property of whoever owns the electronic storage space: Google, Apple, Facebook, etc.

Things can really become dystopian at this point. Pearson imagines scenarios where corporations replicate people's minds and puts them to use as slave androids. Or perhaps your mind is particularly adept at a particular task, and companies extract the elements or ideas within your mind that are useful, and discard the rest. Your fragmented self might go on existing in some form, though it's hardly the sort of android utopia you probably imagined.

In other words, you might escape mortality, but you won't escape the injustices and soullessness that come with existence in a commodified, stratified society. There might even still be plenty of reason to bemoan the death of your biological body in such a future. Pearson even suggests that funerals for biological bodies might still be a thing, and that people might find themselves attending their own funerals, and mourning.

It goes to show, regardless of how we might define death, that change is inevitable. At what point is the "you" that you see in the mirror still you, after the years age you, or after you shift from one android body to the next?

It's probably a good idea to focus less on immortality, and more on getting yourself sorted out spiritually and philosophically, first. The inevitable android dystopia isn't likely to provide any of the answers, only deepen the questions.