ON YOUR DEATHBED you are given the option to upload your consciousness to a shimmering complex of machines. Your personality will move from biology—carbon-based gray matter — to carbon-neutral distributed computing clusters.
Consequently, this is a one-time offer.
With your head quite literally in the Cloud you will be able to experience, in perfect fidelity, all of the things you’re accustomed to seeing/doing/feeling in the physical world. You’ll still sleep a solid seven hours a night, and maybe even remember a dream when you awake. Enjoy food? There’s no flavor profile too complex to render in Afterlife. The pleasures of the flesh? Sex, massage, yoga — all yours.
After all, throughout your whole life you’ve been limited to only those experiences that could be projected into the theater of your mind; your uploaded self is a seamless continuation of this show, except now your sensorium — sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste — will transcend physical sources, to be replaced by light-speed ripples of electrons across silicon substrates.
You’ll have full and complete access to your life’s memories, which you can replay in immersive simulations any time you desire. Revisit the pivotal moments of your life in full resolution — no detail too small to recall. Relive your early childhood and get to know your parents when they were still young; examine up close those relationship decisions you came to regret; return to your college days, and pay rapt attention to the lectures this time.
Not only that: you’ll have access to a vast library of new experiences, both realistic and imaginary, always only a digital synapse away. Try climbing Olympus Mons, Mars’s tallest mountain; embrace hedonism at Louis XIV’s Versaille; feel what it is like to be the Dalai Lama.
Friends and family can visit you, whether they’re still “alive” in meatspace (thanks to the triumphs of VR), or are fellow uploads. Spend eternity getting to know a fast growing network of personalities.
You’ll have absolute control over how to spend your time. Avoid pain and suffering altogether, or let the contingencies of life fall where they may. You are the designer of your own personal Heaven.
Best of all, you get to live in this virtual playhouse forever. Your consciousness will never die.
In fact, by virtue of the rights waiver that you sign upon upload you have no means to end your consciousness, nor petition for a change to this ultimate pro-life policy. You will be immortal and eternal, whether you like it or not. There is no shutdown command.
And when you read the small print in the Master User License Agreement you will notice that all data generated by your virtualized consciousness is the property of Uploads, Inc., a Delaware Corporation.
Given the choice of a natural death or subscribing to Afterlife as-a-Service, which do you choose?
(Echoing some of the themes here, check out the sixteen minute short film World of Tomorrow by master animator, Don Hertzfeldt. It’s a braintwister that will leave you buzzing. We watched it twice in a row.)