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Is it scientifically plausible for reincarnation to exist?

When I think of reincarnation I am thinking of the following:

  • Memories, personality, biases, opinions and feelings carry over from one life to the next
  • I am NOT thinking about an afterlife, as in returning to life as a better or worse kind of creature.

Can a human mind be transferred to a new generation and how would it function? Feel free to identify science that may not exist yet but that is plausible. This doesn't need to be common practice in my universe, just possible.

Please limit your answer to a single plausible solution, not a list of potential ideas, and include the science or pseudo-science that would make it plausible.

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    $\begingroup$ You could justify this culturally as a way to give babies an education boost. Instead of studying for 18 years, to get from blank slate to functioning member of society, children are implanted with some rough mindpatterns from a grown adult. That way the new generation starts much further ahead, and humanity progresses faster. Successful artists and scientists offer their brain scans for good money on the open market. This may include some personal memories. Since the donors will have been implanted at birth as well, there are some lingering memories from people long dead. $\endgroup$ – Peter Oct 17 '14 at 14:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Peter I wasnt really considering the social implications but that is a good thought. $\endgroup$ – James Oct 17 '14 at 15:36
  • $\begingroup$ James - is this just memories? If I 'copied' all my memories to another body, then this body would become a person that has my memories but is otherwise a unique person (from personality traits to preferences to neurosis's et al)...do you want the same person 'reborn' or simple memory transfer? $\endgroup$ – Twelfth May 14 '15 at 17:52
  • $\begingroup$ There would be the issue that the brain is not made to last that longs, so it may become "full" and people would have difficulty creating new memories. Add to that that younger "minds" (brains?) are better at learning; which could cause problems (that guy could have been the best doctor who graduated 100 years ago, but if his reincarnation had trouble "re-learning" at the faculty due to the above issue, I would like someone other to treat me with techniques that are not 100 years old). $\endgroup$ – SJuan76 May 15 '15 at 9:09
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    $\begingroup$ Reincarnation usually involves death occurring first. Do you have a potential definition of "death" in mind? Death defined by the heart stopping leaves much more room for solutions than information theoretic death (at which point science would claim there is nothing left to reincarnate). $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon May 16 '15 at 4:43

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I think the most scientifically plausible method available to us with what we know is one that has been mentioned: use computers. However, the tech required is still out of our current range, so if you want something applicable now I think you're out of luck.

The basic idea goes like this: someone dies, and you upload a copy of their entire life onto some server. You then download it and apply it to a newborn baby, who remembers the memories provided as their own.

Problem number 1 with this is the upload. Brains are like CMOS memory, which requires charge input to remember its data. If you shut a brain down, its electrical power goes off, and all the data is lost.

I propose to fix that with some more futuristic (though not completely unimaginable - we're getting pretty close to it) technology. When babies are born, your country's vaccination program should include death insurance: you have a microcomputer implanted in you. It monitors, records, and saves: monitors your vital signs, physical conditions and immune status, records and interprets your brain activity, and does regular cloud backups. If it detects your vital signs as too low to possibly support life, it could use some of its charge to power the brain for a while (this is the really tricky bit - we don't know how the charges in the brain work), take a final system image, and upload it.

I can see fixes for a number of the problems with this, actually:

  • Storage requirements - we're already assuming futuristic tech, so you can assume greater storage densities too.
  • Unit running out of power - wireless charging is well on the way to becoming reality; just add infrastructure. You could also sap power from your host human, though that's more dangerous.
  • No Internet connection - store the information locally as well. This is also the purpose of the backups: if the final image doesn't make it, at least some things will still be there.
  • Not enough neuroscience - we are developing interpretation of brain signals now, so add on however many extra years of development and boom you have enough neuroscience.

Scientifically, all of this development is possible: none of this contravenes the limits of reality or the laws of nature, so should be possible. It's also the most easily understandable by modern humans: we know lots about computer tech, so developments of it will be easier to pick up.

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  • $\begingroup$ It is not known how much mind-state may be dynamic in the form of patterns that re-enforce through firing. Probably not personality and long-term memory. There is every reason to suppose that a frozen brain could be scanned; what is not sure is whether gross connection structures is sufficient or it also needs some information about ion densities inside the cell. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz May 13 '15 at 23:41
  • $\begingroup$ @JDługosz aye. I left the bit about taking images general for a reason... I have no idea of the science of actually recording a brain. But I do know the science, whatever it is, is getting there. $\endgroup$ – ArtOfCode May 13 '15 at 23:43
  • $\begingroup$ You said "low power" like CMOS memory. I contend that is not true except for immediate conciousness. Think coming out of anesthetic or resusitating drowning freezing children. As long as the cells don't decay, you'll have the mind. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz May 14 '15 at 0:01
  • $\begingroup$ P.S. I refer to MRI not because of any image produced, but because it aligns the spins of all the atoms. That is, a drastic quantum state change. It also affects the energy levels of electrons, resulting in splitting based on spin. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz May 14 '15 at 2:43
  • $\begingroup$ @JDługosz I'm going to have to disagree. Even under anaesthetic or drowning and freezing, your nervous electrical impulses to the brain don't stop. $\endgroup$ – ArtOfCode May 14 '15 at 9:33
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One thing is to transfer memories/experiences(patterns) into something and the other is to reincarnate being conscious about who you were and still being you.

Reincarnation definition:
 begin a new life in a new body

The best way to reincarnate is transplanting your brain into another body, that is real human flesh reincarnation and it will be possible.

Here is how:

  • Make a clone of you (A clone is doable it's just that ethics and religion always stop this kind of mainstream research but you can make a clone of you for sure)

  • Wait until your clone has developed fully his/her skull

  • Try to keep your brain healthy, repairing it and keeping it oxygenated either with nano medicine and nano repairing or with cell therapy.

  • Find a doctor who will perform the transplant

  • When you feel and are ready do the procedure and also take in mind that part of your spinal cord might be transplanted as well

Costs:

doctor costs and embryo, go to clone surrogate mother

clone surrogate mother,about 9000 US dollars in India

clone living, its what you would spend with your child

transplant from old body to new body, about 80,000 US dollars

Depending on your lifestyle, where you are and the people you know you could spend more or less.

Again this is doable and we are currently looking for candidates who want to make a contribution on real medical research.

Is it scientifically plausible for reincarnation to exist? YES

Feel free to identify science that may not exist yet but that is plausible. This doesn't need to be common practice in my universe, just possible. This science does exist and exist on this planet.

EDIT:

one of the advantages of transplanting your brain into your cloned body is that if the procedure is successful you will retain the ability to feel similar or the same as before, I think that the reincarnation concept comes because of the need or want to continue to stay alive as you are now or even better. I don't think that "uploading" patterns into a "computer" will be a correct solution for the reincarnation problem because in my opinion the brain is where your truly self lives(I don't believe in a soul but for those who do, the soul lives in the brain) and the body is what maintains your brain functioning.

Assuming that person dies with a healthy brain but as a consequence some malfunction of the body:

If a person dies in an car accident and the brain health was optimal(there is no brain damage or brain death), one might argue that some problem in the body stops the heart from pumping blood thus stopping the heart, is the real cause of death itself. We can view this as a plant that dies because it not receives water. But if you had transplanted or kept the plant wet then the plant would be alive, this is a very silly comparison but it illustrates that common deaths is the lack of a healthy and maintained brain.

Aging which could be perceived as a natural death has a similar characteristics with the example from above, the body not functioning at optimal condition.

If you loose your home because of a natural disaster you don't stay homeless(death) you rebuild it or construct or acquire a new one in another place.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site. I've edited your answer a bit to make it more accurate and readable. If you disagree, you can rollback or edit further. $\endgroup$ – ArtOfCode May 15 '15 at 11:14
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The copy the brain into a computer is unlikely to actually ever work. The brain isn't a computer and there isn't a single place or channel you plug into to record or download the brain.

Memories and personalities are stored in the synapse in their connections and their sensitivities. The actual evaluation of information is stored their as well. There a billion neurons, each one having an average of of several thousand different synapses. Some synapses have several neurons providing input at the same time.

The is really nothing analogous to it. Trillions of minor states are summing in parallel constantly. Information in the brain looks like self organizing water than any kind of circuit.

Even if you could scan everything in the brain down do the molecular level, The gate molecules on the surface of dendrites that store the bulk of the information have components that fall under the quantum threshold meaning their state at any given time can never be exactly determined. So if you scanned the brain you would get a fuzzy copy at best.

Of course, then you have to grow a clone and then induce every single neuron, axon and dendrites to grow in the exact same way as the original down to the molecular level. That would mean trillions at the least, of exact molecular locations.

Did I mention you have to do them all at the same time. Yeah, the brain from the neurons on up, automatically processes information that flows into it altering itself as it does so. If you build the brain up a bit at a time, the first parts you load in will distort the subsequent stuff.

You need some kind of teleporter technology ala star trek that would assemble a person molecule by molecule. But at that point your talking tech magic.

Better go the other way. Instead of loading the brain in a computer. Start with the computer. People have a chip that emulates a brain based on the inputs from the nervous system. Much easier to set up. When they die transfer the chip to a clone.

A semi-reincarnation would be to have recordings of sensory inputs, perhaps raw imports etc in great detail. Perhap form a very early age. When you die, a clone is uncorked and fed the memories as it grows up through it's own recording rig. Not exactly a duplicate but someone who grew up seeing a lot of what you saw, feeling what you felt getting your education etc might be pretty close to you.

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  • $\begingroup$ Why do you assert that it's "below the quantum threshhold"? What does that even mean, given that the brain itself manages to use the information just fine? The state need only be preserved to the point of reproducing the operational behavior, which is timing and intensity of nerotransmitter releases. It does not have infinite fidelity, and is probablistic in fact. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz May 13 '15 at 23:55
  • $\begingroup$ @JDługosz - To measure something, you need to be able to bounce another particle off of it. Most of the time, the measuring particle is negligible to the particle it's measuring. However, if the particle we are trying to measure is around the same size of the particle we are bouncing off of it, then measuring it drastically alters it I think thats what he's referring too anyway...maybe uncertainty principle where you can know the position of the velocity but not both? $\endgroup$ – Twelfth May 14 '15 at 17:42
  • $\begingroup$ The brain is complicated, but really not that complicated. If we really think this is quantum level stuff going on, then just a simple x-ray would be enough to destroy someone's mind. $\endgroup$ – Fhnuzoag May 15 '15 at 10:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Fhnuzoag - You misunderstand the problem. X-rays do not affect quantum observation limitations. Some of the molecules that store synaptic state information on the surface of the synapses do so by altering their form slightly by shifting one small part of the molecule slightly on what is basically a hinge made from an electron. That exact position of the electron cannot be determined owing to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. It certainly cannot be determined if caught in the middle of flipping. $\endgroup$ – TechZen May 16 '15 at 17:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Fhnuzoag -BTW, Don't be misled by the comparative simplicity of the layout of nerves, neurons, axions and dendrites. The real information is stored in the synapses (the junction of axions and dendrites) in the complex set of states of the surfaces of both sides. There are only about 1 billion neurons in the brain but they have upon average 10,000 synaptic connections each. That's 10 trillion synapses each with own unique complex and constantly evolving state storing and processing rather a lot of information. Copying a mind means copying those 10 trillion states down to the molecular level. $\endgroup$ – TechZen May 16 '15 at 17:25
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Ideas to make it plausible:

Record brain and restore recording in new life Requires huge amount of data (somewhere I heard about 10 petabytes per person), really advanced neuroscience. Also, you can go around this idea in having robots where you can "upload" self after death

Breakthrough in mental field: In other words, having developed some kind of meditation technique where dying person "imprints" himself into newborn baby. (Yes, I am kinda referring to Vulcan race)

Brain transplant It was done so many times in so many bad stories, that no one will be even surprised

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Less plausible, but still you can sell them

Alien technology You can find some artifact on Mars (how cliche...) which can revive one of the deceased explorers. Not really a reincarnation, but you have the idea I hope.

Alien substance For instance, Captain America has shield from vibranium, so, there can be next asteroid failing down on the Earth, being from Unobtainium. And you can somehow use it to transfer memories from one person to another.

Even less plausible:

God is real Pick a religion that believes in reincarnation. Make their God to come to Earth.

It is very rare natural phenomena Reincarnation is real and it happens in one in 10 million cases. And your scientist will publish a paper about his findings realising that sometimes something (electromagnetic field of Earth maybe?) causes in very special cases (huge Sun activity maybe?) that memories can be transfered from brain to brain

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  • $\begingroup$ Everything after your first three suggestions is not really answering the question as it either 1) does not really explain how it works but only offers some tropes which can be used as “reason” for everything or 2) it does not give a scientific explanation, but a magic one (god). $\endgroup$ – Wrzlprmft Oct 17 '14 at 15:18
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    $\begingroup$ Feel free to post your answer which will actually explain such possibilities. I took it as writers challenge to explain some plot in the story. There are so many fictional worlds not explaining anything so I don't think I am committing some extra crime here ;) $\endgroup$ – Pavel Janicek Oct 17 '14 at 15:44
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    $\begingroup$ The whole point of this site is to create fictional worlds that do explain at least something. Thus “just do not explain” or “God did it” are not really helpful answers here. Moreover, these answers can be applied to almost any question. $\endgroup$ – Wrzlprmft Oct 17 '14 at 15:56
  • $\begingroup$ Only the first one seems scientifically plausible to me... $\endgroup$ – Beta Decay Oct 19 '14 at 12:02
  • $\begingroup$ I love the "Even less plausible: God is real", but, as others have pointed out, this is really a bad answer. $\endgroup$ – o0'. May 14 '15 at 9:53
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Yes.

This is a common theme in Science Fiction, in particular:

The Commonwealth Saga (Peter F Hamilton)

Everyone has devices embedded in their neck that constantly records brain state. In the event of their death the recovered devices can be used to restore their memories into a newly grown clone body.

One of the sub-plots in one of the novels has a rescue mission searching for "survivors" on a planet. The people died a long time previously, they were looking for the brainstate recordings to bring them back to life.

The Culture (Iain M Banks)

Everyone in the culture is embedded with neural nets in their brain. These again constantly record brain state and on the death of the person they are embedded into send it to the nearest culture Mind. That mind grows a new body and loads the person into it.

Other examples

There are any number of other examples ranging from people converting themselves into beings of pure energy, digitizing themselves and existing within computers, and copying yourselves between different bodies. For example (slight spoilers) in the Nights Dawn trilogy:

There are a group of people running earth from behind the scenes. They grow new clone bodies and each time they become old enough transfer their memories into the clone and kill the original body

The actual process behind this is not really looked at in detail, and without the technology to do it ourselves there's no way to go into it. The concept is easy enough to understand though, which is that you scan and record the current brain state and then somehow apply that brain state to a newly grown brain.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks Tim, apologies it occurs to me that I failed to ask...HOW that would work. I am updating the question. $\endgroup$ – James Oct 17 '14 at 13:52
  • $\begingroup$ @James Well I did sort of answer that. We'd use a device (possibly implanted in the brain or the brain stem) to record mental state and copy it into the new body. There's no way to answer how that device would work as if we knew how to do it we could do it... $\endgroup$ – Tim B Oct 17 '14 at 14:30
  • $\begingroup$ The novel series by Richard Morgan starting with en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altered_Carbon are based on the exact concept of devices implanted in the brain stem to record mental state, and possibly implant into a new body ("resleeving") after death or simply when desired to switch bodies. $\endgroup$ – Peteris May 15 '15 at 23:38
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Let's say we take the modern view of rejecting dualism and agreeing that mind and brain are one and the same. The brain is purely physical and functions by processing electro-chemical signals.

Current scientific theory, specifically quantum theory, says that you cannot exactly measure the defining characteristics (observables) of a single electron, let alone the enormous assemblage of atoms that comprise your brain. So from the point of view of mainstream science, making a copy of a brain seems impossible.

Even if you could come to within an acceptable tolerance of measurement, another problem is the need to scan the entire, enormous brain in an instant - i.e. at the speed of light. Otherwise you would have a mixed and inconsistent brain state.

And perhaps, most quantum-spookily of all, the act of measuring the brain state would actually alter the brain state. The wave functions of the measured particles would all collapse causing all wave-like features to vanish and only particle like features to remain. Or even visa versa. Who knows? Not me obviously.

Outside the main stream, digital physics/philosophy could hold out hope for a resolution. But here we are just all computers anyway!

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    $\begingroup$ Quantum uncertainty refers to molecular-scale events. Things are still classically well-behaved even at the scale of cells. If you assume that a brain's state could be roughly described on the level of neurons, or even patterns of neuronal connections, you don't have any of the problems of molecule-by-molecule mapping (of course, lots of other problems still). $\endgroup$ – octern Oct 18 '14 at 19:53
  • $\begingroup$ @octern Would that not assume some sort of universal configuration of neurons onto which information could be mapped. Would an individuals neural configuration not be relevant to an individuals individualism. $\endgroup$ – Epsilon Oct 18 '14 at 19:59
  • $\begingroup$ Good point. You might be able to get at that with some functional imaging while the original person is alive. Actually, I'm sure you could do that with patterns of activation that correspond to broad personality traits. Specific memories are about the hardest thing possible. $\endgroup$ – octern Oct 18 '14 at 20:01
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    $\begingroup$ @James Excellent! Made me chuckle. $\endgroup$ – Epsilon Oct 20 '14 at 16:12
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    $\begingroup$ The brain does not need full quantum-state fidelity. Proof: an MRI scan has zero effect on the mind. It appears to work souly (pun intended) on robust chemical and extended-structure means. There is a blur between chemestry and quantum: it's all quantum all the way up. That's why I say "extended structure". $\endgroup$ – JDługosz May 13 '15 at 23:50
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Putting aside the 'brain in a computer' argument so prevalent these days, here are a few more ways in which it is scientifically plausible for reincarnation to exist.

1: Emergency Teleport

The moment before your body dies, your body is scanned and you are reconstituted in another location (or time). Any injuries you may have sustained leading to your demise will be healed using your DNA as a blueprint. If you were suicidal, those memories would have to be erased to keep you from attempting to kill yourself all over again.

See: Freejack, Gantz, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

2: Ghost in the Machine

When you die, your "spirit" is intercepted, captured, and compressed, perhaps within a stasis field. You can then be recovered in order to transfer your awareness and memory to a new clone body.

See: Freejack, Eureka, Multiplicity, Serial Experiments Lain, Kaguya Hime, MPD Psycho, RahXephon, Captain America, Age of Fire

3: Symbiotic Relationship

When you die, your "symbiont" is intercepted, captured, and compressed, perhaps within a stasis field. You can then be recovered in order to transfer your awareness and memory to a new host body.

See: Star Trek DS9, Stargate SG-1, Babylon 5, Federation of the Hub

4: Freakish healing

When you die, your freakishly mutant healing ability heals your body and revives you.

See: X-Men, Torchwood, Doctor Who

5: It exists already, but nobody told you.

In this option, you don't remember your prior lives merely because you haven't lived them yet. You are The First. When you are reincarnated, the universe will roll the dice, and pick another being into which you will incarnate. You will remember everything, but you will never tell yourself that you do. Then again, memory fades with age, so you will probably only remember the last few incarnations anyway, if that. After all, you were just a baby, you could have dreamed the whole thing. Why would the universe choose to incarnate The First partway into the existence of universe? How can the universe even be this far along if you haven't lived all of those other lives yet? I didn't say there wasn't a lot of timey-wimey handwaving involved. I just said it's scientifically plausible.

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If you assume that the brain is seen as a hardware / "wetware" on which a "soul", i.e. thinking program, can run, and when the particular brain dies, the "soul" is uploaded into some way of "cloud storage", waiting for the next available free brain which it can inhabit, then in theory it should be possible for the "soul" to save its endstate and to replicate it (may be not immediately) into the new brain. The reason why it does not routinely happen might be because the end-state is structure-dependent and every brain has slightly different structure (different neuron connections due to difference in the environment where brains develop). So in order to reincarnate a person, you have to place him/her in exact same circumstances as the person which you wish to reincarnate (which is more or less what was done to Dalai Lamas, by the way :-} )

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    $\begingroup$ Hey, welcome to the site! $\endgroup$ – DonyorM Oct 19 '14 at 10:58
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A biological take on it is found in [1] which describes a seemingly long-lived alien species. The sentient, humanoid aliens are all adults. Young non-sentient offspring live out in the swamps, but in the middle of the night, one of them might sneak into the village, into the hut of an elderly person, and by force take a large pearl-like ball from the back of the throat of the sleeping person. The swamp-dweller inserts the pearl into its own throat, which grants it the memories and personality of the village elder. The pearl here acts as a biologial memory device.

The young one take on the role in society of the elder, while the elder's body, now a non-sentient creature, scurries out into the swamp. The pearl grows slowly larger layer by layer and can last for centuries.

[1] the novel "The Accounts of an Old Astronaut" (Jon Bing, 1992)

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There is a good chance that we exist in an artificial universe - by which I mean that the universe exists within some kind of simulation*- this gives an interesting angle on reincarnation because consciousness is computationally expensive and it is fair to suggest that a competent universe programmer would choose to reuse those resources rather than recreate them from scratch.

In that situation reincarnation is reasonably plausible, although as you might expect it is dependent on a lot of what-ifs.

Whatever the mechanism is, we don't really know very much about consciousness ( you will see frequent pop-sci columns suggesting otherwise, but although mechanisms are being gradually grasped, knowing what part of the brain activates under various circumstances is not the same as knowing what consciousness is ) so you have a fair amount of leeway for invention here.


[*The argument goes that if it is possible to simulate a universe then there are almost certain to be more simulated universes than real ones, which means that statistically speaking any given universe is more likely to be simulated than not. Experientially there would be no way for us to tell.]

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  • $\begingroup$ Only if the simulation is optimised; if not, consciousness would be as computationally expensive as a brain-sized bush. $\endgroup$ – wizzwizz4 Jan 20 '18 at 14:10
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Been done in detail by a scientist. Read Physics of Immortality. Actually, don't bother to read this. Has a catchy title but not a very good read -- lots of boring equations too.

I read this a long time ago (Some interesting ideas, but his reincarnation scenarios may not be very interesting to you.). My engineering was mostly current back then, so I paid attention to most of the equations too.

  • Computer sim of everything (you, me and everything else too). Ties this heavily into the Berkenstein bound
  • Universe is infinite, so each person actually exists multiple times
  • We advance to point we control the collapse of the universe and the subsequent re-expansion cycle
  • We advance to the point we create Jesus Christ in a small village in Palestine around 5 BCE - Yes, he really did say this. In this case I assume we could make other religions real too.

An alien brain parasite would be a lot more fun. Perhaps the Stargate Goa'ld would give your some ideas. Watching old Stargate reruns is more entertaining than most research too.

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The first step towards answering this is a philosophical one. You have to define all sorts of difficult terms:

  • Life
  • Death
  • Self
  • Memory

Unfortunately, those are hard enough to define that we rarely try to go further than that. However, if you define life/death as something in line with our traditional ones (i.e. heart stops beating), but you define your "self" and your "memories" to be structural (i.e. the information is stores in relationships within the self, encoded as a relationship between neurons rather than being physically assigned to a particular neuron), it is not impossible that there could exist a transform which perfectly maps the structural content of the "self" into another form which survives past death. Perhaps there is an encoded pattern in the seemingly random paths of air molecules which we don't understand enough to see a pattern, but for which a pattern actually exists. That structure of air molecules could last until the correct time where it interacts with a young child to trancode those memories back into structures made of neurons.

It involves several substantial leaps of faith regarding the existence of some durable storage media for transcoded selves, but it is scientifically possible without violating any laws. It merely leaves the curious question of "why hasn't science detected these patterns yet?" However, that is a question of how effectively the scientific method can discover something, not whether it is theoretically scientifically possible. As part of the answer, we know that discrete signals can be "whitened" through use of pseudorandom number generators such that they are discernible from noise (in fact, in simulations we use them as noise). The unknown question is what a continuous version of this would look like.

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Building from current science, I would approach it by employing a Human-to-human, brain to brain interface. See here

The link discusses an attempt to relay mental signals from one brain to another. It's clearly in it's infancy, but if this technology existed then it would theoretically be possible to transfer memories from one brain to another in the future.

When someone is growing elderly they could have a clone of their body created, current cloning is possible but with health defects, but it's quite plausable that cloning could be made a viable option in the future. Once a clone was created the elderly individual could be connected to the clone and their brain patterns transfered to the clone. Their memories, and possible even their thought patterns and other parts of their mind that help make them who they are, could be imprinted on the clone. This would effectively make a young copy of the aging individual. The young copy can continue to live their life, and one day when they are reaching old age they could transfer their memories to a new clone.

If this was non-destructive transfer it would also be possible to create multiple young clones, duplicating yourself. It would also mean that the original elderly individual would continue to live, and die, after the clone was made. Anything they did or experienced after the transfer would be lost with the original's death still.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding! Could you elaborate more? Maybe link to a Wikipedia article or something? As it stands this would better fit the comment section. $\endgroup$ – JDSweetBeat May 15 '15 at 15:54
  • $\begingroup$ As @DJMethaneMan says, this is more a comment than an answer. The study you have linked to is good, but an answer should rely on more than a link - could you explain how this method works perhaps? $\endgroup$ – ArtOfCode May 15 '15 at 16:04
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    $\begingroup$ I updated your post with a slightly more elaborate answer that I think stays true to your original idea. This is an example of something closer to what would be considered a full post. It explains the content of the link briefly, and how it would be implemented. It also goes into some possible implications. I would have written more actually, but I would risk going beyond your original intent if I did. If your wondering why you have so many comments new posts are always reviewed. We are glad to have you on this site, but this is a good time to provide constructive advice about the site. $\endgroup$ – dsollen May 15 '15 at 16:28
  • $\begingroup$ Wow. You know what I meant to say.. Maybe you got my brain uploaded ;) $\endgroup$ – RobAu May 15 '15 at 20:14
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The main problem with scientific reincarnation is that once it is possible, humans will be so primitive compared to the technology that the question then becomes "Why would someone bother with reincarnation?" Likely humanity will have passed into post-humanism or trans-humanism, where we can have any physical manifestation that we like. The very idea of "reincarnation" will likely be an anachronism, as the notion of "life" and "death" will be radically redefined in a world where you can make backup copies of yourself, or restore your physical manifestation to any degree you like.

Dan Simmons attempted something along these lines with Hyperion (very good read!), but struggled to explain why humans still mattered (ended up with a Matrix-like justification, unfortunately).

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I am not an expert in this matter , so I did some digging. First thing to be understood is how a long term memory is stored by the human brain. A long term memory is stored as a chemical rather a protein structure. So my idea is to recreate similar protein structures in the subject you want to reincarnate. This of course will require that the dead guy's brain is preserved by using cryonics so that the protein structures remain intact long after he is dead.Also tech needs to be advanced enough to identify these protein structures and synthesise them in the subjects brain.

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Science is a method. It's about experimentation. The Buddhist concept of reincarnation doesn't violate science. If it could be proved that reincarnated rinpoche have memories that they couldn't have gotten naturally that would prove reincarnation scientifically. It's just that at the moment no such proof has been made in a way that's convincing.

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  • $\begingroup$ The question specifies that it's talking about a scientifically plausible version that explicitly involves memories. $\endgroup$ – octern Oct 18 '14 at 19:54
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, scientifically plausible just means that an experiment gets a result. It doesn't mean that there a theory that explains it based on generally accepted ideas in the 21st century about how the brain works. $\endgroup$ – Christian Oct 19 '14 at 13:27
  • $\begingroup$ “The Buddhist concept of reincarnation doesn't violate science” — yes, it does (for what I think is a reasonable interpretation of “Buddhist concept of reincarnation”, I'm not very familiar with Buddhist philosophy). Memories, skill and personality form as the brain grows, they can't be grafted to an unborn or infant brain. In science, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. A model that contradicts what we know has to provide an explanation for why its predictions are not being observed. $\endgroup$ – Gilles May 20 '15 at 13:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Gilles : There a huge difference between claims that are demostrated to be true and claims that can be true. "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" talks about what it takes to demonstrate a claim to be true. There was no good evidence 20 years ago for scientific discovery that scientists make today. When writing science fiction the author can introduce possible future discoveries. There no need for extraordinary evidence for them to be true in our world. Indeed it's the nature of science fiction to presume new invention that exceed today's capabilities. $\endgroup$ – Christian May 20 '15 at 14:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Christian Exceed is one thing, but most models of reincarnation contradict what is known today. $\endgroup$ – Gilles May 20 '15 at 14:08

protected by James May 15 '15 at 22:26

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