When We Live Forever

Things fall apart. Normally we think about our computers as deterministic machines which never make a mistake. But with a very small probability, your hardware will make a mistake (information in a storage device is probably the most likely place where this will occur.) The point, however, is that for the task we need our computers, writing an email, ordering a product from amazon.com, etc, the rate of failure does not come into play.
Now suppose that humanity learns to prolong its lifespan to some enormous timescale. Will this change our fundamental concept of what a computer is? When the errors of a computer factor into your life in a real, albeit slow, way, will we think of computers in the same way we do today?
Computers are not invincible. It is not clear to me that their method of achieving fault-tolerance is even the best or most effective method for computation. When we build our computers small, so small that errors become unescapable, will we continue to try to maintain the model of the transistor and the near deterministic completely controlled system? Or will we take a cue from biology and maybe find that complex erring systems can be programmed in ways we haven’t thought of yet?

2 Replies to “When We Live Forever”

  1. speaking of people living longer, i went to a talk last week by William Haseltine. most of the talk was him musing about how much he kicked ass. but then he talked about how when someone gets a bone marrow transplant they become an “age chimera”, their blood is usually much younger than they are. his belief is that all tissues can be replaced in the same way.
    having only experienced success his entire scientific career, it was clear that he thought he could solve this problem in his lifetime but the ethics of stem cell research were slowing him down. consequently, i got the impression that he felt that conservative religious groups were slowly murdering him or that by not moving to korea he was commiting a slow steady suicide.

  2. What will be even more interesting is when we prolong human life to the point where it becomes necessary to port consciousness into a non-organic form. At that point, whither error correction?
    For that matter, does anybody know how error correction is done in organic brains, if at all?

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