Friday, June 9, 2023

What if the afterlife had in-app purchases?

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In the original Amazon series Download, a young programmer named Nathan Brown uploads his mind to virtual reality after his body is seriously injured in a car accident. Mental download is a familiar trope, but sci-fi author Tobias S. Buckell say that Download presents an interesting new twist of the idea.

“We’ve all heard of putting people online, and we all know how people can use the virtual world to live out their fantasies, but it was really interesting to see how the virtual world becomes a world with consequences, problems and problems that the character has to navigate, ”states Buckell in episode 457 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy Podcast.

Nathan finds himself in a virtual community called Lakeview, where he is constantly harassed by intrusive ads and in-app purchases. Science fiction author Abby goldsmith says Lakeview’s oppressive blandness is exactly what you’d expect from a tech company. “It’s a soulless society that has no creativity,” she says. “They probably have 10 committees that are working things out, and they are erasing all the good ideas.”

Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy host David Barr Kirtley was impressed with how Download is grappling with the economic realities of mind downloading. As long as there are servers that require power and maintenance, any afterlife is bound to be temporary.

“You would be in the afterlife, but you still know you are going to die someday,” he said. “It depends on how long your family – your descendants, or whoever cares about you in the real world – is willing to keep paying for it. So it just becomes another life where death is a constant reality, rather than escaping from it.

Sci-fi editor John joseph adams appreciated Downloadmix of science fiction, humor and romance. He hopes the series doesn’t turn into too much of a thriller, a fate that has happened to similar shows like HBO’s. Years and years. “It would be easy for this show to go down the same path and go too far with those same thriller elements, straying too far from the cool sci-fi and comedy that made us love it in the first place,” says -he.

Listen to the full interview with Tobias S. Buckell, Abby Goldsmith and John Joseph Adams in Episode 457 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.

John Joseph Adams on science:

“One of the places I’ve had a bunch of issues with the show is with some of the different ways that technology is implemented, or even just science. Nathan has a punctured lung, and it’s pretty treatable even now, let alone in 2033 – likely 12 years from now it will be even easier to treat. And I understand you don’t want to risk dying on the table because then you miss your chance to get downloaded, but it didn’t really seem like a big risk. He’s already in the hospital. If it looks like it’s going to die, go download it. But also I was very confused when they sat him on a chair and sprayed his head, then the body collapsed in a tub of ice. None of this made sense to me.

Tobias S. Buckell on mortality:

“[Nathan] Basically stands in front of that giant TV monitor and looks across the room where his funeral is taking place, as a giant wall is essentially turned into a screen for him. And everyone in real life moves and has their own moment, and they’re not really a part of it. I found it really fascinating. There’s just a few things going on about how we distance ourselves from people, and how it might scare us, and how it might be a fear that you have after you leave – how your memories persist or not. He’s watching some of these things happen in real time, because he has that access to the other side of real life. So like a stranded ghost, he’s right on the other side, ignored by most at his funeral, just looking at the aftermath of his life.

David Barr Kirtley on Love Triangles:

“Towards the end of the season, we see IngridFirst-time family, and they’re this really wealthy family, and they’re just really horrible to each other all the time. So we see that it is not as bad as the environment that produced it. It was good, but I think maybe we could have used more. Because it’s kind of that love triangle, but in a love triangle you would generally want ‘Team Nora‘and’ Team Ingrid ‘or something like that, and I feel like the way the show is presented, nobody’s going to think Nathan should stay with Ingrid. I think it might be more interesting if 20% or 30% of viewers were like, “No, I love Ingrid”. If it’s predetermined, it’s less interesting to me, it seems.

Tobias S. Buckell on Consciousness:

“Not all of the cells that make up your brain are cells that were there five years ago, because there is death and renewal and birth even inside your tissues. And so there are some theories that the way to transfer consciousness would be to slowly move your brain a bit while still being connected to something, and then once you incorporate that you just keep moving a bit more. and a little. a little more, just like the natural life-death-birth of cells inside your body. You just incorporate a moving part of yourself into a mechanical product, so that slow transfer is complete, instead of this instant thing where you make a copy. It is less “make a copy” and more “very slowly migrate to something else”. “

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