Forget the singularity — bring on the plurality
I’ve been thinking about sci-fi tales that present the idea of consciousness being downloadable and storable — that is, people are able to back up their minds in case something happens to their bodies. Or are able to live in, or at least move around, virtual realms because their minds are able to escape their bodies. (Some call it transcendence, but I call it escape. I’m getting old.) But I can’t think of a single tale that takes this to the next logical step: if your mind can be transformed into data that can be moved around, then surely this data could be merged with other data. That is, if we can back up minds, why can’t we merge minds? Why not upload a hybrid of multiple minds/consciousnesses into a single host — a sort of Borg, but without the silly Star Trek idiocy of the Borg — and approach the narrative from that prismatic perspective. I’m not talking just shared memories and ideas, but a collective mind. The notion of an expanded consciousness defined by plurality rather than singularity, to borrow another sci-fi term, would really challenge contemporary notions of life, the mind, technology and, well, everything in between. Now throw in some Peter Watts alien critters that don’t have sentience in any recognizable form at all, and you’ve got a sci-fi tale that’s more reliant on the science than the fiction. And which is, you know. Interesting. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case these days. But hey, I’d read it.