Who is this we’re talking about? It could be anybody, really.
Me? Yes, as long as you’re extremely rich.
Ah. Well I haven’t become extremely rich so far. Pity. In that case you’ll miss out on a life of perfect health and theoretically eternal happiness.
That sounds good. Will all the pizzas be wood-fired and the Wi-Fi constantly reliable? You bet.
Who says so? Professor Yuval Noah Harari.
Who is he and why does he have three names? He’s a popular Israeli historian and I don’t know. He’s done a bestseller called Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, which he’s been talking about at the Hay literary festival.
What did he say? “I think it is likely in the next 200 years or so homo sapiens will upgrade themselves into some idea of a divine being, either through biological manipulation or genetic engineering or by the creation of cyborgs, part-organic part non-organic.”
Aren’t historians supposed to talk about the past, mainly? Yes, and Harari does also do that. He reckons that great fictions such as religion and money have been the key to humanity’s success because they made people function in large, flexible communities.
I see. Can I have his royalty cheques, then? I suggest you ask him about that. He also thinks these fictions are now reaching their limits because technology will make rich people amortal and virtually all-powerful, meaning that they won’t need God any more.
What’s amortal? It means, theoretically, you could live for ever, as long as someone doesn’t get annoyed and smash you up.
Far from guaranteed, I should think. And how will technology accomplish this? Well, you could have intelligent nanobots injected into your blood to rejuvenate your cells and repair any damage. You could implant a computer and various utensils into your body, giving you superhuman powers. Or you could just simply upload your mind into a computer so you could exist anywhere and experience anything.
I do see how that might be expensive. How about those of us who aren’t extremely rich? What will we be in the future? Polite.
Do say: “If this comes to pass won’t the super-rich also be tormented by existential angst?”
Don’t say: “They already are.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010