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RTP Discussions • View topic - What Inspired The Play?

What Inspired The Play?

Discussion Area for the Play - "Resurrection"

What Inspired The Play?

Postby SeeDubya » Sun Oct 23, 2005 1:45 am

Humanity resurrecting our own ancestors is a cool plot. Where did that idea come from?
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Good Question

Postby HarryStottle » Sun Oct 23, 2005 2:54 pm

I can't honestly remember what inspired the original thought but I was reading or writing something to do with Simulated Universes. Probably attempting a critique of

The point about being able to simulate the Universe - or even a small part of it like our own planet - is that if it is to be convincing to entities like us (with our ability to examine and measure things at sub atomic level) then the data captured from the simulated object must be accurate down to - at least - atomic level and, possibly, even down to quantum level (though that implies gargantuan data storage requirements).

Another implication is that we will be able to digitise ourselves and become "omortal".

Such detailed data capture is currently beyond us but within sight. It is one of the things we will gain from nanotechnology. For instance, archeologists and geologists in 30 years time will be able to stop digging and just send a few self replicating nanobots down into the ground where they will multiply and measure everytning at molecular level, giving us a 3 dimensional fine grained image of everything under our feet to whatever depth we're interested in. It will, I'm sure, be the high point of those sciences and we will finally learn vast amounts about our history and evolution which, up to now, has been educated guesswork.

You also have there one of the core ideas that fed into the play. We will know - in those instances where we bother to capture the data - the final disposition of most of the relevant molecules that went to make up that wooden ship, this tyrannosaurus, that building and so on.

Now consider the implications of being able to capture such data at such high resolution in the present.

Imagine that we take a snapshot of the world as it is every trillionth of a second.

It is my conjecture (and as far as I know this is an entirely original concept - and probably nonsense but I like it anyway) that if you have 100 such snapshots and sufficient computing power, you can calculate the 101st. Given the 101st, you can calculate the 102nd and so on.

This would be a fairly useless trick - if you're thinking its a good way to predict the future - because it would probably (at least initially) take longer to calculate each "frame" than it would to allow the frame to happen in real time. BUT...

The same logic applies in reverse. If we have 100 frames we can just as easily calculate "frame zero" - the frame which preceded our 100.

And given frame zero, we can now calculate frame minus one and so on.

Furthermore, given that we have the initial 100 frames of the "real world" we can test our calcalations. We can calculate, say, the previous 10 ten frames then rerun them to see that they do not cause any changes to the initial 100. If a change is detected, it means one of our calculations is wrong and needs to be tweaked.

The calculation, rerun and tweaking process continues until no discrepancies are found.

And then with our growing batch of frames we calculate frames further and further back into our past.

This is, of course, not time travel, it is literally a simulation of the past as we reach back into it.

However, if we can make the calculations at the resolution I believe will be possible within the next 50-100 years, then we will literally be able to resurrect the dead. We will recalculate the last known positions of every molecule that went to make them whatever they were and, eventually, have sufficient data to simulate them exactly as they were - as portrayed in the play.

The importance of authentic data from the past - such as the archeological and geological discoveries documented using the nanobots - is that they act as further "checkpoints" against which the reverse calculations can be measured. If we know, for example, that this piece of marble was found "here" then that is what the calculations should conclude. So as well as rerunning the frames forward to confirm that nothing changes in the "real world" frames which should mirror "today" - we also know that the back calculations should lead to that piece of marble lying right where we found it.

The same kind of logic applies to photographs, video footage and any other data we have of events and people in our past. They all act as "checkpoints" to ensure that our reverse calculations are on track.

When I'd finally wrapped my head around this concept, and realised the implication that we'd be able to resurrect the dead, my first thought was "wouldn't it be amazing to go back and resurrect a digital clone of Jesus" and thus began a book which I originally entitled "Cloning Jesus".

Then the idea began to "mature" and I realised that we'd have had to gone through a couple of thousand years before we got anywhere near Jesus and we'd obviously resurrect millions of other people along the way. And I asked myself who would be the first person I would want to resurrect from my own past and thats when the idea of resurrecting my own father emerged. That became part 1 of the book. But as I wrote it, it felt more natural as a play rather than a book.

The final part will deal with the original idea - the resurrection of Jesus. The middle part deals with the underlying science and debate about the ethics of resurrection and some of the truths we uncover as we go back in time.

Does that answer your question?
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My Head Hurts!

Postby SeeDubya » Mon Oct 24, 2005 9:35 am

That was a lot to take in in one go. I haven't come across "simulated universes" before. At first I thought we were talking about something like Startrek's "holodeck" but you guys are more serious than that. You don't think this is "just" science fiction do you?
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It aint science fiction

Postby HarryStottle » Tue Oct 25, 2005 12:11 am

My play is. But the underlying science is real. Simulated universes are already here, albeit at somewhat lower resolution and scale than even a holodeck would require.

The holodeck will be version twenty something! We'll get to that around the same time we can backup the human mind.

Heard about the "Millennium Flythru"? If you haven't yet done it, go to , read the blurb and download , (120 mb avi and worth it. Trust me!). Turn off all the lights and play it full screen on the biggest and best monitor you've got access to. Preferably at half speed for the most dramatic effect. This too, is mindblowing.

(Select some suitable music for maximum effect - my personal recommendation is Sheila Chandra's Abonecronedrone. Better still, get pleasantly stoned first.)

It is literally a Simulation of the Universe featuring all the stars and galaxies we currently know about and then - using 25 terabytes of data and a few weeks on a supercomputer - they've created a frame by frame animation of 10 billion "particles" to show what it would be like if we could fly through roughly one quarter of the currently known universe at a few million times the speed of light (ignoring some of the obvious difficulties with that - like the fact that we wouldn't actually see any of the light!) The avi is the "movie" they've made of that animation. Absolutely stunning.

Meanwhile, back on terra firma, the models we create for weather forecasting are probably the most complex universe simulations use on a day to day basis and we all know how - despite having the worlds most powerful numbercrunchers dedicated to the task - how moderate their accuracy is. Nevertheless, between them, the Millennium Flythru and the Weather forecasting computers do demonstrate a "proof of principle" both for the concept of sims in general and my reverse calculation proposal in particular.

They are frequently run "in the past" to compare their forecasts with what really happened. This is akin to the "tweaking" stage in my previous. I don't know whether they've actually tried running their algorithms in reverse to see how quickly they diverge but there is no reason, in principle, why they couldn't.

The real question, of course, is whether atomic scale simulation will ever be possible. If so, then omortality is, in my view, inevitable.

The probable answer is that it's like to be purely a capacity problem. The data required to model a snapshot of any human brain has been calculated (see - for example - at around a petabyte (1000 Terabytes - 1 million Gb ) which is not imminent, but we're already creeping up on the terabyte. I've currently got a third of a terabyte in my PC and if I tot up the storage capacity on the family network, we're already close to a full terabyte.

When I left my Civil Service job back in the late 80s, my office employed 1500 staff and boasted a computer database capable of holding 11 Gb of data. The machines and drives that stored and access this data occupied an airconditioned space about half the size of a football pitch. Just 16 years later I can store nearly a hundred times as much on my home network. My 2 kilogram laptop holds more than 7 times as much data.

It is not unreasonable to expect a similar rate of progress over the next 16 - 20 years. If so, I would expect my then computer to be built in to my personal communicator and probably fitted invisibly into my ear. I suspect the storage will not be onboard, but stored centrally and accessed wirelessly about 10 times faster than I currently access the data on my SATA hard drive. I expect to have private access to about a petabyte of storage space. Thats probably enough to model a snapshot of my own brain but not enough for backups!

That's stage one. Stage two, within a dozen years of that stage, we should reach storage capacity sufficient to store a few hundred snapshots or "frames".

Then we have to figure how to reanimate the models. The AI boys will probably crack the problem in ways I can't even understand, but my own favourite is similar to the general simulation solution. capture 100 frames of the brain in action and you can calculate the 101st etc. I think re-animation might work something like that but that it might take even more data for the re-animated mind to "click in". It might take, say, 10 minutes worth of brain capture in order for the model to be re-run and take over where the organic version left off.

If that wild speculation is anything like the truth, then mere petabytes are nowhere near sufficient and we'd need somewhere close to 10 exabytes (10,000 petabytes) per person. That could take another 20-30 years.

But ONLY another 20-30 years.

In other words, if I'm right, then we'll be able to make digital backups of the human mind by about 2020. We'll be able to re-activate those digital minds, in a digital environment, by about 2050. That's how close I believe we are to omortality.

If you're new to this game, go and check out Transhumanism: .

After that, take a look at Ray Kurzweil's site:

Once you've assimilated his site in particular, you'll see my predictions as reasonably restrained! But you'll also be looking at - between those two sites - the main ideas which drive my vision of the future.
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Re: It aint science fiction

Postby SeeDubya » Tue Oct 25, 2005 11:55 pm

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It Aint ME!

Postby HarryStottle » Wed Oct 26, 2005 12:36 pm

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But it aint ME

Postby Judas Iscariot » Wed Oct 26, 2005 2:00 pm

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Re: But it aint ME

Postby HarryStottle » Wed Oct 26, 2005 11:29 pm

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Convincing

Postby SeeDubya » Thu Oct 27, 2005 10:01 am

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Is it ME?

Postby Judas Iscariot » Thu Oct 27, 2005 5:11 pm

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Postby Pulsewidth » Sun Nov 06, 2005 12:18 am

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I have a question for you

Postby HarryStottle » Sun Nov 06, 2005 2:31 am

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It's still ain't ME

Postby Judas Iscariot » Tue Nov 08, 2005 12:39 pm

You know I was almost half-convinced but the "clone" issue makes me stick to my guns (with one exception).

Following the author's argument I can accept in theory that a human brain could be linked to an artificial brain that eventually could entirely replace the dying grey matter altogether (just as hearing aids and contact lens replace part of the brain's sensory organs today). Consciousness would, in this instance, would always be constant and part of the joint entity until eventually the entity became 100 per cent artificial. But that is not a clone -- what it is is simply replacing part, and eventually all of the brain's tissue, with artificial duplicates. In that respect I can accept that it is theorectically possible to prolong human existence artificially. But
this isn't what the play envisages.

A clone could be an exact replica of the original BUT that is all it can ever be. Consciousness cannot jump through thin air from one system to another let alone divide into two. The clone that Pulswidth and Harrystotle imagine may well think it is the original and to any other observer it the clone would be no different to the original.
The two could certainly tell each other they were both the same (much like the mind-games some identical twins play) and indeed might persuade each other that they were the same.

But they are not. The consciousness of the original remains in the human brain and dies with it. The clone continues but it is a replica of ME. It thinks like ME, it has all my memories. But it ain't ME.
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Postby Pulsewidth » Tue Nov 08, 2005 3:43 pm

Why can't consciousness jump through thin air? Seeing as we can't detect or measure consciousness it seems premature to start labeling what it can or can't do.
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Consciousness -- reply to Pulsewidth

Postby Judas Iscariot » Tue Nov 08, 2005 6:52 pm

While we can't measure consciousness we certainly can detect it. In all animals it is a phenonema of their nervous systems. Inanimate objects do not possess it as they do not have a nervous system or indeed any form of life. In humans it is a phenonema related to the brain and it dies when the brain dies.

The only way consciousness cold "jump" through thin air would be if there was a "soul". Believers, and there are millions upon millions throughout the world, do indeed think that consciousness is transfered to another life or to some paradise when the brain and body dies. This is a matter of faith and has nothing to do with science. And, of course, for those who do believe in the supernatural, the prolongation of the life of an individual is not only pointless but in most faiths completely blasphemous.
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