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Information and Immortality

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Published on Mar 1, 2012

Dr. Paul R. Cohen, Director of the School of Information: Science, Technology and Arts, University of Arizona. Dr. Cohen presented on Feb. 28, 2012, the sixth and concluding lecture in the College of Science's Living Beyond 100 Lecture Series.

Abstract: Information and immortality have always been related by the idea that we are survived by the stories told about us. The Information Age provides increasingly sophisticated tools to create and tell these stories, but of course the relationship between information and immortality encompasses more: robotic elder care, uploading oneself to the Web, and the likelihood that in future, one will have biological and computational parts and entirely computational friends. All of which raises the question, what do we want informatics to do for us as we age? Where is the line between assisting and supplanting? This is not a new question: Anyone who sits for a portrait knows that the likeness might survive, and eventually become, the sitter. Informatics will eventually merge one's self and one's likeness into bio-robotic complexes of parts and information, maintained by corporations and governments. Then the relationship between information and immortality will be more complicated than ever.

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