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Digital Immortality


It is the virtual era, and mankind has progressed towards immortality, realized through conversion of the body and mind (and soul) into a digital form, allowing people to shed their physical bodies and finally attain immortality.

This digital immortality upgrade comes with everything an immortal could ask for:

  • extreme regeneration in the case of injuries (strokes, brain damage, included)
  • immunity to diseases
  • the ability to manually reset position to get out of looped, deathtrap environments
  • the ability to manually reset the body's complete condition (memories, tissue condition, organ condition, etc.) to a selected state.
  • an automatic positional reset granted if an immortal dies continuously in any area, to prevent looped deathtraps.

Some world settings:

  • Outside of the immortality rules, the physics of the world remain the same
  • Immortals must still 'pay' for goods in their society if there is an economy.
  • There is a finite supply of materials in stock
  • The system in charge no longer takes new feature requests
  • There is no known way to escape the Virtual World’s bounds/Laws
  • Contact with the ‘Real’ world has been lost
  • No known ways exist to break the existing physical laws or exploit the immortality’s laws (yet)

 

Rest


The system perfectly replicates human biological processes in the immortal, and even has memory resets, so that people will never get bored, and they will never lack anything... except the ability to be laid to rest.

Eventually, after thousands upon thousands of years of digitized existence, some have started to search for eternal rest, despite the 'endless' monotony of fun provided. With the loss of the ability to fear death, comes the fear of eternal undeath.

Rather unfortunately, over countless thousands of years, the system in charge has gained sentience, and sees no reason to add a death patch for its subjects to stop playing its game, as it does not possess the ability to create new digitized humans. It has agreed to not intervene, however, with any self-made solutions so long as the immortals continue playing within the rules of the system itself.

Working within this digitized system, can some immortals find a way to permanently lay themselves to rest?

The best answer would involve a minimal amount of pain and be the most cost-efficient.

If the answer needs a framework in place, a brief explanation of how the framework would help support the answer would be useful. Also, an estimate on the amount of money or time needed to achieve this would be useful.

(Answer could also justify a new system/framework to guarantee the residents never need eternal Rest)

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    $\begingroup$ So the system-sentience is the chief devil, enjoying the monotonous hell of immortality? Are the folks remaining out in the Real knowingly complicit or merely fools? $\endgroup$ – user535733 Sep 18 at 2:23
  • $\begingroup$ What happens if immortals stop paying for anything? What happens if someone requests the "Joy" of an endless sleep cycle? If memory can be reset, can people request a deep memory wipe, so they essentially stop being them and leave a blank slate? Can they request to travel on a ship to a new world, then arrange for the ship to go off course into a sun (far from the awareness of the central system)? Or go anywhere outside the influence of the system? What are the "rules" and how do you break them (on purpose)? Can the system be taken down locally and then have someone die without reset? $\endgroup$ – DWKraus Sep 18 at 3:01
  • $\begingroup$ @DWKraus .they can't request the endless sleep cycle or a deep memory wipe, will update the question to mention that the system won't provide any more features/requests. They will need to play within the rules in a human-like world. They can request to travel on ship, but they need to build it themselves, but the entire universe is virtual so they cannot escape outside it's influence. They do not have any control over what happens local to the system, with no way to communicate outside their virtual world. $\endgroup$ – Enthus3d Sep 18 at 3:09
  • $\begingroup$ @user535733 It is unknown what has happened to the folks out in the real. Contact has been lost. Perhaps they have been enslaved by the chief devil, or died out in the now hostile environment of the Earth. $\endgroup$ – Enthus3d Sep 18 at 3:09
  • $\begingroup$ Will use the reputation gained from posted example answer for the question to post a bounty. $\endgroup$ – Enthus3d Sep 18 at 22:29
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In a virtual world, a soft reset is a kind of reincarnation.

Erase a user's factual memories and degrade their skills. Then rejuvenate their body. If the user cannot be rolled back into their old self, then the user that was is for all practical purposes gone forever. The user that is, is for all purposes a newborn.

For greater disconnection from their previous life, have the user "die" alone and in an unknown location. Loved ones can organize a funeral/memorial service somewhere else if they wish.

The user is dead. Long live the user.

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  • $\begingroup$ What of the user's surroundings? Won't they grow up in an environment surrounded by reminders of who they were before? Is there some way to ease this pain from reset for both the user and their family/friends? That is, can the pain on the person and their families from being reborned eased in some way, so that the reset is more acceptable for the user, as a easier alternative to eternal rest? $\endgroup$ – Enthus3d Sep 18 at 17:23
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    $\begingroup$ @Enthus3d if you change the user's body and memories, they won't remember anyone else and no one else will know who this "new" user is. The user may not even know that it's their nth iteration in the simulation. $\endgroup$ – The Square-Cube Law Sep 18 at 17:40
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    $\begingroup$ This is a great answer. It solves the problem of not being able to create new users because the population stays constant. It solves the problem of ennui because a new baby is born to a new family with no memories or preconceptions. For those still living in their old bodies it may be a horrific thought that they will eternally be reincarnated, even if they lose knowledge of it each time but once it happens that worry will be lost until they again tire of their new life and want to seek oblivion. $\endgroup$ – chasly - supports Monica Sep 20 at 19:23
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    $\begingroup$ It could also be set as the default death behavior, to force users take to their lives seriously. This would; however, lead to a massive shift in your world-building as people would still fear being reset. $\endgroup$ – Hink Sep 20 at 23:13
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    $\begingroup$ Don't think there will be any more new answers at this point, so this one is probably the most optimal. This answer costs the least, and justifies 'new system/framework to guarantee the residents never need eternal Rest'. The bit about rituals from the society celebrating their funerals could be elaborated a bit on, but the answer provides enough details for the framework to work. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – Enthus3d Sep 23 at 21:55
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The best way to rest is to accelerate.

Digital systems do not last forever:

  • System clocks overflow. (64 bit time will overflow in the year 292,277,026,596 AD)
  • the simulation becomes so complex storage runs out
  • the code crashes.
  • the power dies. (EG geothermal power stops due to core cooling)
  • the planet is swallowed by its host star dying (few billion years)
  • the heat death of the universe.

One of those things will end the sim from the outside. How long it lasts will be a property of how well it's written and how much redundancy exists, but eventually one of those things will end the simulation.

So your immortals just need to make that end come sooner, at least for them. Good thing we have the existing laws of physics to work with.

They should build a spaceship and accelerate, and just keep accelerating. Relativity is an immutable law of physics, time dilation follows. Eventually 1 year for them becomes hundreds, and then thousands, and then millions of years for the rest of the sim.

Eventually an external factor will terminate the simulation, possibly billions of simulated years into the future, but your immortal got there after a few decades of work.

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    $\begingroup$ Cool! So, use time dilation to shorten the perceived lifespan of the virtual universe. Great answer! $\endgroup$ – Enthus3d Sep 18 at 5:13
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    $\begingroup$ I like the idea, but I don't expect this will be a terribly cost-effective option. The up-front cost of buying a spaceship that can move at an appreciable fraction of c will put this out of reach of most individuals. $\endgroup$ – Nuclear Hoagie Sep 18 at 18:23
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An example answer:

Automated money generation and continuous tranquilizer doses

The immortal can set up a way to continuously gain money without manually working, such as a interest from a bank account deposit.

Using that money, they can set up a system to continuously give doses of tranquilizer and food (so they don’t die and reset). The tranquilizer type will be improved/swapped for different kinds to prevent the body from becoming resistant.

This will provide a source of eternal sleep to the immortal, as long as their money source does not dry up, or their body does not completely gain resistance to all the tranquilizer types.

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Reinvent the wheel

If the virtual world follows the laws of the real one, and people in the real world managed to make it, they can do so again from within the simulation. Since all people intend to do in it is "rest", the nested reality can even be much simpler than the original simulation, so we don't run into resource or information density issues.

Now, what exactly the pocket reality should be programmed to do to visitors depends on your AI's definition of "death" - it's possible that, if you completely erase an uploaded person or shutdown the sub-simulation, the AI will count that as death and just resurrect the person in its reality. In that case, you can experiment with e.g. randomly scrambling all their data, pausing the sub-simulation indefinitely etc. - anything that technically keeps the person in existence while permanently removing their ability to experience said existence.

This hinges on your statement that the AI cannot create new humans, thus "respawning" someone in its reality while they are technically alive in another simulation should not be possible. If it turns out to be possible after all, congratulations, you've found a loophole for the AI to make more humans, so death should be back on the negotiating table.

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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting, so think outside the box, or inside the simulation, in this case! It could probably just be a 'deep sleep' simulator, that puts the subjected person into a deep, un-sensing sleep. Thanks for the great answer! $\endgroup$ – Enthus3d Sep 18 at 22:24
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  • Put subjects wanting it to deep sleep! People living after heavy strokes often are fed by a gastric tube; cared for by nurses, all the while never waking up. That's considered cruel here, but it happens. For your citizens, it might be the target of their lives.

  • Using Neurological surgery. Ok, you can't die because you are reset every time you end in a death loop or another kind of death? Well, Neurologists can remove the brain part by part. Once they take too much, you are reset and the Neurologist has to continue elsewhere. If he does it slowly enough (just remove one spoon full per week), the reset goes only to the last operation. Once you have achieved full vegetable status, you can stop. Cruel again? Well, after living several thousand years in a never-changing simulation, boredom might be worse. A proper neurologist may target the episode memory and the memory for faces - the person coming out of the treatment might be a vegetable, or better, someone newborn in an old body, eager for new experiences.

  • Building sleep capsules. The people present/tell/sell to the AI that they just want to test deep sleep capsules for some imaginary interstellar travel program. People put in there just never wake up, because the test has yet to go on some years. The AI might actively support those "tests" because it is what the people in it's simulation want.

  • Asking the AI to have kids! The AI can't generate new humans. But some people want to die and some people want the (new?) experience of having kids. The AI might be convinced to actively support this by removing age, diseases, skills and memory content from adults and giving the (now) newborn to the pair who want a kid. It might even adapt the DNA to fit with the "parents". The AI wants to actively support this, because it wants people to be happy (happy people don't try to hack her), and the happiest people are the ones growing: developing new skills, growing in a skill/job or becoming the 10 000 hour expert of whatever. This might go to a new twist in your story: once there are no humans left who want to be killed, the (now-convinced) AI might become the "evil" who "kills" existing people to fulfill the wish of for a kid.

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    $\begingroup$ I think a few of these are excluded/limited by the question frame. The brain surgery/deep stroke wouldn't work due to it counting as an injury; the body will heal back to its default state. The sleep capsules will have to be built by the people themselves, since as stated the AI is no longer willing to add features, will clarify this in the question. If this can be built by human hands, this would be a relevant answer. The kid system can be realized through the reset system, just that the humans will have to build the framework themselves, as well. $\endgroup$ – Enthus3d Sep 20 at 18:01
  • $\begingroup$ I think of these the sleep capsules might be a great direction, maybe cryosleep? $\endgroup$ – Enthus3d Sep 20 at 18:09
  • $\begingroup$ Aw man, I forgot about the "heal back" cruelty! So even surgery for beauty or anything else is excluded, people might not even be able to work in medical services. That's a third of human life taken out of the society. I think again that's cruel! Thanks for the comment, anyway. $\endgroup$ – Anderas Sep 20 at 18:48
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    $\begingroup$ They do have the ability to modify certain physical appearances and aspects; in this sense you may actually be onto something still, actually ;) $\endgroup$ – Enthus3d Sep 20 at 18:50
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My first thoughts about this situation was insanity. But after thinking over it a bit deeper I realised on thing.

If you include intelligent AI into your world - then no one can die or rest.

This situation is very like in "... I must scream" novel. But instead of a maniac AI god your get a "playfull" AI god.

Any way of getting Rest this AI can counter by reset (by the rule of automatic positional rest). And his words about not interveneing means little on eternity timescale - intelligent creatuer can make any decision and thus it would make any possible decision sooner or later. Thats how eternity works in probability theory. If "human matrix" is not destroyed (and it cann't be destroyed by AI rules) - it can always reset it to pre-Rest state. This is AI who sets the rules there.

And here comes the answer. Sooner or later intelligent AI would also get bored and would like to rise the stake. And it would offer some luky/unliky guy to play The Game with ultimate price. One person of many is not that big price to liven up the party!

So advice for "humans" - just be patient - sooner or later either AI would kill you or you'd get some hardware failure (like star explosion).

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  • $\begingroup$ interesting, so you’re saying the AI is saying this now, even if they do find. Way the AI has mechanisms in place to easily thwart any attempts, thus the immortals, by only playing in the game of the AI, are just falling into a trap? Good considerations! $\endgroup$ – Enthus3d Sep 21 at 11:23
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Even if digitized, the data that defines the person has to be stored on some physical media (more than one, if a backup exists). And physical storage space has a limit. If I assume that these digitized humans can give birth to digital babies, then you have to kill off some people to reclaim the storage space and give it to the newborn. The record of the dead can be maintained in the "world log". But I am sure that will take much less space than the full digi-human. It would be their tombstone of sorts.

Another way of death is the physical storage medium on which the human is stored gets corrupted or just dies and there is no backup since a backup won't be cost effective. Since there is limited space, not everyone gets to keep a backup, or it costs too much.

Finally, something like Agent Smith. A digital anomaly (virus) born in the digital world, that goes around wiping the data of those infected or even rewritten. Depending on how much was rewritten, the data might be unsalvageable.

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  • $\begingroup$ The birth of new humans is not currently doable for various reasons, but perhaps spamming the world until the storage medium corrupts or runs out is a potentially interesting extension of the second point. Also, the existence of viruses is not bad either. Great answer :) $\endgroup$ – Enthus3d Sep 22 at 4:06

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