James Hughes is a practicing Buddhist who believes that the future may present radically new possibilities for death — namely, that there won’t necessarily be one. According to Hughes, it might be possible to live indefinitely in the future, with our minds transferred to software, living in a virtual and non-carbon-based world. This raises some profound questions about “the self” and personal identity. Will the software-based “you” be the same as the human you, right now? How will identity be different when we are no longer confined to our physical forms?
These questions got us thinking about the many other guests we’ve had over the years, who've imagined a world in which we are no longer bound by our bodies.
Ray Kurzweil is perhaps most famous for his belief in and prediction of “the singularity,” an event whereby humans or human civilization will be subsumed by sentient technology. In his wide-ranging conversation with Steve Paulson, he predicted this event will happen in 2045. He outlined a future that includes nanobots, artificial intelligence, and more.
It’s hard to describe Mark Mothersbaugh as a "posthumanist” in strictly philosophical terms, but his pioneering work with the band DEVO often playfully critiqued humanity and celebrated a technological future. In fact, the band is named after “de-evolution,” the idea that our species is regressing. This segment features lots of music mixed in with Mothersbaugh’s conversation with Doug Gordon.
Adam Leith Gollner
Adam Leith Gollner was once obsessed with death. A freelance journalist and the former editor of Vice, he met with all variety of spiritual and non-spiritual leaders while researching his book, “The Book of Immortality: The Science, Belief and Magic Behind Living Forever.” In this interview, he discusses how beliefs become certainties, how and why some people hope to live forever, and the magician David Copperfield.