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Altered Carbon is No Longer Fictional

When I first read the news that a rudimentary biological circuit had been created from clusters of kidney cells, I was both excited and amazed (Fussenegger, ETH Zurich). A short time later, I began to imagine the enormous implications of further development. These simple biological AND, OR and NOT switches, comparable to those within an electrical circuit board, would eventually lead to the creation of a fully logical synthetic humanoid brain. One which is capable of conducting millions of small tasks concurrently, unlike the binary system of our current Artificial Intelligence. Computers that can be grown, taught and manipulated in factories like intelligent meat.

It was at this point in my train of thought, that the Netflix science fiction series, Altered Carbon, was brought ominously into focus. In this futuristic world, the wealthy elite live forever. Their neural pathways and memories backed up every twenty minutes to a cloud based server, enabling their personalities and intelligence to be transferred via a biological disc into a new body. Bodies, in this world, are disposable sleeves, or a mere fashion statement. Those who cannot afford new sleeves, must appeal to a welfare panel, to see if they deserve whatever meat sack is available at the time. No need for basic healthcare, just make sure your insurance covers the cost of growing a new and perfect body.

A chilling and disturbing fictional story line, but one that could potentially become a future fact. It makes the ethics of stem cell technology seem like child’s play. What if in the future, these biological interfaces network together and determine that bodies are obsolete? Will the late great Stephen Hawking’s warnings over AI, finally come to pass? It certainly makes you wonder whether mental telepathy will be the next scientific breakthrough, to enable vast hives of artificial brains to connect wirelessly. How would we ever survive that?

Sam Nash is the author of the FREE prequel sci-fi conspiracy thriller novella series, The Aurora Journals – Now available here The Aurora Conspiracies Series will be available soon. Release date TBA. You can find her at or on Twitter @samnashauthor .

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