Why You Are Immortal (No Religion Involved)

Yesterday I wrote about immortality and people agreed with me more than I expected. Today I will write about immortality again and I expect most people to tell me I’m nuts.

What I am going to argue today is that you are immortal. Not only you: everyone is. With a caveat: you will see everyone else die and everyone else will see you die. But you will never die. And neither will they.

How is this possible, you may wonder? Thanks to our friend the Many-World Interpretation of quantum mechanics. However, I must emphasize that, even if the MWI is not true, there are still other alternatives that give exactly the same result. More on that later.

The Immortality Imperative

The Immortality Imperative (Photo credit: jurvetson)

In case you’re not familiar with the Many-World Interpretation, I will include a very brief and inaccurate summary here. Feel free to visit Wikipedia for a more rigorous explanation. The MWI predicts that the universe we observe is just one in a myriad of parallel universes. These “branch off” from ours every time something equivalent to a quantum measurement is performed. To explain this correctly I would have to use other notions such as decoherence, so I strongly encourage you to read more about this and to not take my explanation at face-value. The bottom line is that everything that can happen, does in a parallel universe. For example, in a parallel universe the dinosaurs didn’t go extinct; in another one, the Pope resigned a year ago instead of yesterday. And so on.

The MWI allows us to tackle a particularly nagging question: why are you alive? Why do you exist? Your chances were pretty slim: if one of your parents had so much as sneezed during intercourse, some other spermatozoon may have reached your mother’s ovules. Think about the sheer number of facts leading to your birth and how many of them could have gone a different way and you will quickly see your chances of being born were not that high. So why are you here?

In the context of the MWI, the reason you exist is obviously because you could. Everything that can happen, does. Your existence was a possibility and is therefore a reality. End of the story.

Why are you not aware of being in a universe where you don’t exist? For the same reason that you’re aware of being on the moon. Simply, because you’re not there.

Now I’m going to take this argument and project it into the future. The first question is: will you ever be in a universe where you died? The answer is obviously in the negative, since once you’re dead you cannot be aware of much. Therefore, by definition, you can only be aware of existing in a universe where you’re alive.

English: Schrödinger's Cat, many worlds interp...

English: Schrödinger’s Cat, many worlds interpretation, with universe branching (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And now, the punch line: will there always be a possibility of you being alive? Well, yes, because everything that can happen, does. There will always be a chance, no matter how slim, of your surviving one more second. Always. Worse comes to worse, you could come out as radiation from a black whole (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out Hawking radiation).

Therefore, you will always be aware of being alive, since the opposite is impossible. And your life will extend indefinitely into the future, since there will always be a possible world where you survive. Ergo, you are immortal.

Of course, this kind of immortality has some problems. It grants your immortality, not anyone else’s. So you will see me die. In fact, you will see all of our loved ones die. It is also not an optional kind of immortality: even if you put a gun to your head, you will always survive somehow and probably get crippled in the process (google “quantum suicide”). This kind of immortality also says nothing about your well-being: you will continue to exist as long as there is a possibility for you to do so, no matter how much pain you’re in.

That seems like a pretty frightening prospect. At least, it frightens me. But we can do something to make it less frightening. Since immortality is apparently not optional, we should do everything in our power to make sure we don’t live forever in loneliness and excruciating pain. A possible solution would be to start putting serious amounts of money into ageing research in order to increase the probability of some other people surviving with us. A good bet would also be to invest on pain treatment research.

Time travel with parallel universe, and a purp...

Time travel with parallel universe, and a purpose for the traveller (prevent himself from being hurt by a falling stone) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fortunately, it is overwhelmingly more likely that you will survive in a universe in which humans have conquered aging than in one in which you just happen to keep living by chance, so the prospects are not so gloomy. At least that is what I keep telling myself to avoid falling into despair.

Now if you were telling yourself something along “MWI is a stupid interpretation, so I have nothing to be worried about,” think again. MWI is not the only theory that predicts multiple universes. In fact, most current physical theories have similar consequences. For example, an infinite space (as in zero curvature of the universe, consistent with observed values) also contains an infinity of alternate realities: to locate them you just need to move far enough. String theory predicts something called “the landscape,” which involves as many as 10500 different universes with different laws of physics. The currently accepted theory for the expansion of the universe in its early stages, eternal inflation, also predicts a mind-boggling number of parallel universes.

In some of those models, however, there is not a “continuity of the mental process,” meaning that the copies of you that live in them are causally separated from you. If, like some of my readers, you believe that continuity is a necessary condition for personal identity, they do not imply immortality, at least not for this particular self. If, like me, you believe that continuity of the mental process is irrelevant for personal identity and that, in fact, personal identity is a baseless illusion, then their predictions are exactly the same as those of the MWI.

Anyway, those are my 50 cents on why you’re immortal. Now’s your chance to tell me I’ve lost my mind. Plenty of space to do so in the comments section below!

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45 thoughts on “Why You Are Immortal (No Religion Involved)

  1. The Diesel-Electric Elephant Company

    The infinite-existences notion (and I am both for, agin and somewhere in-between agreeing with it) places a heady responsibiity on the spark of me that I think is me and the assumed spark of you that you presumably similarly think is you. With each and every action and inaction we litter existence with yet another Everything.

    This implication seems to be such an untidy and inefficient one that I am now questioning the existence of the spark that I think is me.

    On the other hand, there are an infinite number of universes where I am not such an utter raddish, and for that I am happy.

    1. David Yerle Post author

      Good point. A myriad of selves, each making one decision and its opposite, also seems to take away from the definition of “me.” Because, if I am not my choices, then what the heck am I?

      1. The Diesel-Electric Elephant Company

        If I am also conscious and self-aware in each and every other alternative universe then could the many instances of “me” ever be put back together again later, or would the many examples of me have changed too much to still be themselves, so that there are many examples of me that I would no longer recognise or claim “ownership” of? Are these changed examples of me perhaps the “other people” in the universe(s) and I am everyone, including you? It all seems rather insanitary.

        I need coffee and a (packet of) Ginger Nut biscuit(s).

        1. David Yerle Post author

          According to QM, no, you would not be able to put your selves back together again: the universe just branches more and more. But I would think it is very likely some of your “selves” would be so different from you eventually that you wouldn’t even recognize them as yourself any more…
          It is mind-boggling to say the least, yes.

  2. mflahertyphoto

    Interesting post. That other “me” is not me because it’s in a different universe that has a totally separate history than this one. So in this macroscopic world we live in, I don’t think immortality as far as my consciousness goes makes much sense. Now immortality of my atoms? That’s another story. By the way, “Many Worlds” is a pretty old term for one of many lines of this kind of cosmological thinking (Hugh Everett came up with it in the 50s). But it’s probably my favorite term.

    1. David Yerle Post author

      Thanks for your input. Actually, in the Many Worlds Interpretation, your other “me” is not in a separate universe: you just split into several at each moment in time. So it does not have a totally separate history: you are one and the same guy. In the other multiverse options your life history does happen in disconnected universes. I will write more on why I don’t think that matters in my next post.

        1. David Yerle Post author

          Exactly, only until the split happens. Afterwards it is different, though it still works if you’re in a life/death situation (which is moment potentially is). If you don’t think the MWI is right, though, then yes, all the other options involve selves in causally disconnected universes. Maybe one of these days I will write a post about why I think the MWI is the right one and hopefully I’ll change your mind! Just out of curiosity: which interpretation of QM do you favour?

          1. mflahertyphoto

            I see where you’re coming from there. A failed suicide is a good way to look at it I guess. You know, it’s a little like the particle at the event horizon splitting off into two, one of which falls in and one remaining measurable (but both still entangled). I just find somewhat ridiculous the idea that whole universes are split off with each interaction, but I’m not counting out some of the more modern developments of MWI. I like the idea that consciousness causes wave function collapse, but that seems to be incomplete too. I do like the idea of the universe itself being a wave function, but the consequences of that don’t make sense to me. Excuse me while I go to the utility sink to let my head explode without making a mess.

    1. horriblefiction

      I’m always tired when I comment on your stuff and so I drop words and sound like Mongo. That said. The animated GIF of the stone falling on the victim’s head is hilarious. It might be true, but I’m getting a good laugh.

      What about dementia? My grandmother got dementia and people became disembodied voices to her. She could not connect the vision of a human with their existence. Furthermore, she could not identify the person behind the voice. Voices were just some random voice saying anything. Also, she could not tell at which point in her life she was living. She was in a timeless existence. Most of the time she thought she was 19 or 30-ish and she had to go to work or school in the morning.

      Is dementia dying? When do demented people split off into the multiverse?

      1. David Yerle Post author

        I must admit I was pretty confused about dementia for a long time. And pretty scared of it, too. Some of my close relatives have suffered from it.
        The thing about the multiverse is you are constantly splitting, at each point in time. There is a universe where your grandmother never got dementia, another one where she died young and you were never born, and so on. There will be thousands (probably millions) of parallel universes, each with a different version of your grandmother. In some, she will have dementia. In some, she won’t. Each of those branches can in theory be extended arbitrarily, which means there will be several branches where she will suffer dementia for a long time while in others she won’t. Hopefully, as you move sufficiently into the future, most illnesses, including dementia, will be abolished. So, eventually, every single person far enough into the future should be healed of whatever ailments they possess. Though I am really crossing my fingers here.
        I hope that made sense. I find the whole idea of the multiverse (and of me splitting into many copies) really hard to process.
        Also, most of the stuff I post is food for thought, meaning that I don’t claim it to be true, just a reasonable possibility. The idea is to make people think differently by showing weird ways of looking at reality. What’s important is that we have fun considering all these hypotheses.

  3. horriblefiction

    It all makes sense now. I was wondering why Kiss was still around in my multiverse. They should have lasted only 2 years according to my parents, but they seem to never die. I can take comfort in that Kiss will suffer horrible pain as they live infinitely and never die.

    Shouldn’t most multiverse plots include alien invasions and the sale of a cheap immortality serum?

  4. Pingback: Why I Believe in the Many-Worlds Interpretation

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    1. David Yerle Post author

      Dear David,
      I would love to discuss things with you, but your opening line does not encourage discussion. I really value a respectful exchange of ideas. Apparently, you don’t.
      If you are not capable of maintaining a civilized, polite conversation, please refrain from commenting further.

  6. Brodie

    David, I still don’t fully understand the “Immortality” concept.
    So if I die I can get reborn as anything in the universe?
    Like how you said the black hole.
    And my other question is, if my above question is false, when a person dies they get reborn as a separate person or the same person but make different choices in a new universe in a completely different world, with no memory of you’re previous life?
    Also, what happens in the limbo period between death and rebirth?

    1. David Yerle Post author

      Hi Brodie,
      Sorry for the delay. No, it doesn’t work exactly like that. It’s a bit complicated.
      The idea is that, at every instant, your universe is splitting into multiple copies, which means that you’re also being split into multiple copies, one for each of these universes. You are actually aware of being in each of them or, put in a different way, there are many copies of you and each of them thinks it’s the “real” you, because they have no access to the others’ perceptions. Your actual self will get split into millions as time goes by.
      Now, in a life/death situation, it’s not that you’ll be reborn: it’s just that there’s always a chance of you surviving! That is, your universe will split into a bunch of others. In some of those, you’ll be dead. In some of those, you’ll be alive. Since you can’t be aware of being dead, the only option is that you’ll be aware of surviving. This doesn’t have to happen in the future: in fact, it is very likely you’ve already been through several situations where there was a chance (maybe slim) of you dying. But of course, you remember having survived, since the versions of you that didn’t can’t remember much.
      Did that make more sense?

      1. Brodie

        Yes, yes it does.
        Thank you again for explaining all my questions in such detail and simplicity at the same time. I greatly appreciate it.

  7. Simon nilzen

    Hey david.

    Excuse my bad english.

    I think this is so crazy! Not your idea, but when I was about 10-11years old. Me and my friend where talking about life and death. And I came up with this exact theory! And I belive in it so strong now when im older. Because I have had a series of accidents that could have killed me.
    I had an over dose when partying when I was 19. I’ve fallen from a balcony 3meters and landed on my head on concrete. left me a brain hemmorage and bruises.
    I have had a gun pointed on my head, and when I close my eyes of fear, he shot my friend 3 times ( he survived tho).
    And all of this experiences have got me to think of this everytime.
    I’m so happy I found this.
    Thank you for writing this 🙂

    Simon Nilzén

    1. David Yerle Post author

      Hi Simon,
      Sorry about the extremely long time it took me to approve and reply to your comment. I just started a new life in a different country and getting settled is taking up most of my time.
      I am really happy you found the article related to you and especially to your many near-death experiences (seriously, it’s quite impressive to have survived all that!).
      I haven’t had many chances to test my theory yet and, to be honest, I hope I don’t get many in the future!
      All the best,

  8. jay harmeyer

    Unfortunately you can exist in more than one parallel universe, something which this article completely fails to acknowledge. “Why are you not aware of being in a universe where you don’t exist?” is acknowledged because the answer is a simplistic “because you’re not there”. The real question that this article is afraid to ask, because it has no clear answer is this “Why are you not aware of being in alternate universes where you DO exist?” In one universe I am a lawyer, in another I may be a professional rugby player, and yet I am only aware of one possible out come for my life, not multiple ones. Thus how can I be sure the version of my life that I am experiencing will be the one that continues in perpetuity? Perhaps the version of me that is a rugby player will experience becoming an immortal while the lawyer version of me experiences having a heart attack and dying at 45. Certainly one version of me should not get any special consideration over another version in a parallel universe.

    1. David Yerle Post author

      Well, I always appreciate a condescending comment that tells me what I am afraid of. I am sure that, having read my blog once, you are much more qualified than me to tell me what is in my head.
      I don’t explicitly state that you can exist in more than one parallel universe because it is bloody obvious. I’m sorry you fail to see that. Regarding your question “why are you not aware of being in an alternate universe where you do exist?” which I was apparently terrified to ask, the answer is even more straightforward: you are aware of being there, in the same sense that you are aware of being a 5-year old. The fact that you are not aware of everything simultaneously is just a consequence of being in different regions of space-time (as would happen with another you in this universe, if you believe it to have infinite extension) or in decoherent parts of the wave-function that cannot interact.
      I think you fail to understand how consciousness and the multiverse operate, especially regarding the branching. I would try to explain things better but the tone of your reply does not predispose me towards pedagogy.

  9. Mark Scott-horne

    Well if many worlds theory is true you are immortal anyway. The only argument this theory makes is that you have continued memory and knowledge of that fact. And therein lies the sticky point :memory and the delusion you are the same person now that you was 15 years ago even though all your atoms are different and the cells have been replaced, you are a copy ( one with errors) of who you was in the past.

    You know what the biggest delusion in the world is? It’s the one where you think you are an individual , and that you are you, sure there’s a uniqueness in that your memories are different from other people and your environment and experiences makes you think you are different….but that’s it, the conscious experience is the same for everyone if they are self aware! so you are already immortal as long as self awareness exists.

    People can’t handle the idea that anything that is self aware is equal, people want their own memories to continue , their own personal experience, so they invent fantasy and fiction…like religions.

    It does not matter if YOU are dead because another human, a monkey, a cat and alien on another planet IS YOU.

    The only retort people give is something like “but I don’t have memory of others, or personality”

    That’s just content, like a computer with a different program…it’s the same computer.

    The Buddhists got it right.

    The type of immortality you’re speaking of would be a living hell since eventually everyone around you would be dead, the planet won’t exist and you’ll just be some sort of thing floating in space…forever. The probability of you having a meaningful existence would keep shrinking at the same rate as the mathematical odds of others survival shrinks along with the odds of your environment continuing to exist (see second law of thermodynamics)

    1. David Yerle Post author

      Hi Mark,
      Thanks for your input. I’ll try to reply to the best of my ability, but your comment is quite long so forgive me if I focus on specific sentences that may be taken out of context.
      “Well if many worlds theory is true you are immortal anyway.” Precisely. That’s exactly what I’m saying. This is not “my” theory of immortality. All I’m saying is the many worlds theory predicts immortality.
      “You know what the biggest delusion in the world is? It’s the one where you think you are an individual.” Indeed. I do not talk about this here, but you can find my thoughts on this precise issue here: http://www.davidyerle.com/dismantling-personal-identity/
      “The type of immortality you’re speaking of would be a living hell since eventually everyone around you would be dead.” Well, I hope you’re wrong but I fear you’re right. In fact, you’re probably more right than you think. The MWI predicts immortality, but says nothing about your mental state. That is, you could be in excruciating pain for 100,000 years, for example. That is even more terrifying than being all alone in the world. My hunch is that the only way to not go insane would be to take a Buddhist/Stoic approach.

      1. Vince

        I see what Mark is saying. You’re completely confusing MWI and combining it with CI and a sprinkle of solipsism and quantum mysticism. You’re theory doesn’t account for time being an illusion caused by movement, Einstein’s relativity, and humans and our brains being quantum objects themselves. Quantum immortality implies what wave function collapse theories imply, that we are outside the universal wavelength. Immortal consciousness whose brains are indestructible or whose consciousness doesn’t come from our brain function altogether. Experiment- poke your eye out. This physical act chanes completely what your consciousness can process. Example- Look forward, you now can’t see the left side of the room. Ultimately changing your conscious state about what it can ponder at this moment. We are immortal, but not as a classical body. We have essence and soul, but the soul dies with the body. Exactly like everyone else.

        1. Vince

          Wanted to add. If the possibilities are infinite, the one where you (even though the very act of calling something other than yourself “you” is superficially just stating that that configuration of matter is made up in a similar fashion and resembles you, I mean come on, there is only one you, even clones are their own individual) survive forever would be the one where physics allowed immortality to take place in the old-fashioned religious way you describe it. And in that universe, then everyone would be immortal. Although the universes aren’t infinite I would believe if MWI were true. You would have been born into that universe to begin with. Sorry, make the most of this one life you have. Even when that other you is born, you still would have died a very long time before it.

          1. Vince

            Should have just said this, would have made it easier. We are not single quantum objects. We are flesh and blood macroscopic objects. Our conscious reality is a product of our brain, a macroscopic object. For quantum immortality to be true, our mind would have to be a single quantum sized energy that just followed around this heap of tissue. So much for blindness… cause you wouldn’t even need eyes to just experience everything including sight. Quantum interpretations- philosophy and mysticism. Quackery. People say it doesn’t have to make sense. Kinda does, since we only live in the macro world. The universe exists without us having to think about it. Thinking before the fact is the problem. Typical- “the odds of me being born are so far fetched, there must be a billion worlds!” Uh, kinda only thinking that because there is a “you” to think that… Just saying, this QI and other philosophical bull is just holding us back and making people think science is weird and stupid. I suggest you read the many world theory blog, whose link I followed here. He makes a great point, “The interpretation doesn’t matter, reality doesn’t change when you think about it. Only your philosophy and interpretation of reality changes.” Not exact quote, just the gist of what his blog is saying.

  10. Lori

    This is not a new concept to me. It reminds me of the folks who believe that we are all part of God/creator. That he is made of energy and crested the solid earth. He wanted to experience it by becoming part of it so we are all individualities ofGod experiencing his creation and that we all go back to being part of the creator when we die. That we are not individualized souls once we die. I guess what I am saying is I am not sure I agree with us not keeping out individuality, nor do I believe we have many individualities as you describe. Your concept and their concept remind me of each other and probably blend into that we are all energy and go back to energy or creator at some point become one again.
    I would hope that I am me and just one me for eternity.

  11. jack

    i think the idea you could live forever is wrong, i understand if there is a choice between living one more sec and not, you will still be alive but i see it like the idea movement is impossible because i have to move halfway then halfway then halfway infinite times. an infinite number of finite numbers is infinite
    movement is still possible and so is death

    1. David Yerle Post author

      Hi Jack,
      Thanks for your comment. I may have expressed myself wrong and, if so, I apologize. What I meant was not that we have a choice about living longer, but that the multiverse interpretation predicts that there is always a universe where you are alive. Therefore, whether you want to or not, you will not be aware of dying (how could you?) and instead be aware of continuing to live. This doesn’t mean you don’t die: you will die in a vast majority of universes and, in fact, you’ve already died in many of them. It’s just that you won’t be aware of that. The people around you, however, will, but they will not be aware of their own deaths.

  12. Ezo

    ” The bottom line is that everything that can happen, does in a parallel universe. For example, in a parallel universe the dinosaurs didn’t go extinct; in another one, the Pope resigned a year ago instead of yesterday. And so on.”

    Honestly, I’m not entirely sure that’s a correct interpreatation of MWI. I mean, it’s not “everything that can happen”. It’s specific(infinite?) set of changes/deltas to the current state of the universe. From what I understood, these possibilities that happen non-deterministically(from our perspective) are things like “this electron will move here or there”.

    So…. my question is: does that wiggle-room(in this universe electron will go to X, in another to Y) leave place to every of these macroscopic differences?

    Is there **always** a possiblity, no matter the situation, where you can go from today to tommorow alive and sane? I mean, if for some branch there would be no way, then a person’s whole day of experiences would be gone. If one day of experiences is enough to make a difference between one counscous-person and another, then someone just died. What about a year?

    1. Ezo

      Also, if that’s true… then **if** we can’t conquer heat death of the Universe(which is likely)….. we will, most likely, end up living forever in a universe where there is no energy/resources for us. Imagine that, by chance, otherwise entropy-ridden universe makes atoms arrange in your body… and it exists in a void… forever.

      That’s pretty…. scary. Well, I guess biological body is less likely than some simple information-processing system processing your mind… but it’s improbable enough… so you won’t get any VR or anything… your sensory data will be void, or filled with random noise…. or with some junk. I guess junk, because you’d die(cease to exist because you would go crazy) from sensory deprivation.

      At first, quantum immortality sounded like it’s too good to be true… then after thinking through this…. shit.

      1. David Yerle Post author

        Hi Ezo,
        Indeed, in the MWI not everything can happen, but only whatever is compatible with the laws of QM. However, it turns out that a heck of a lot is compatible with those laws. For example, when we do double-slit experiment, at first the two universes only differ in one electron, but after the experiment when there’s a mark on the screen they differ in millions. These differences only get magnified with time. If we accept that not only humans are capable of measurement, but that any entanglement with a macroscopic system is in fact measurement, then the tiniest fluctuations can have huge effects. Therefore, most of the “classical” possibilities one can think of will be real in a universe ruled by QM, if we buy into the MWI.
        Even if that was not the case, we still have completely random events such as Hawking radiation coming out of a black hole. Since Hawking radiation is completely random, there is a non-zero probability that a black hole will spit out our entire solar system with us in it.
        Regarding your second comment, I find the idea of quantum immortality quite disturbing indeed. If the universe is heading towards a heat death (which seems to be the case) and with an accelerating expansion of the universe, there seems to be very little room left for rejoicing in our immortality.

  13. Tristan

    Was considering the same situation as this article over the past year or two, and decided to do some research into how others have discussed the subject, which brought me to this article.

    While I have yet to go through the other articles you’ve written, I am mostly concerned about the “awareness of death” part of the philosophy, considering that needs more detail to accurately discuss the topic of being “unable to die”. The sensations of necrosis, decay, the dissipation of heat, are all experiences we can have, so it’s possible that while our “awareness” may persist, our physical form may not. But that dips quickly into a semi-religious format.

    My second consideration is not just being immortal, but the fact that it’s -this- existence specifically of all of our possible outcomes that plays out, especially in scenarios where survival and death were only two of many possible outcomes in between. I died in Universe A, but I survived in Universes B-G, so why am I in universe C instead of D?

    This may refer to the fact that our reality is not playing the story of our existence moment by moment, but playing it with consideration of what’s to come. We’re only going to be aware of a universe in which immortality is not only certain for us, but made by design in every moment to ensure that fact. This may be telling of how our universe works at a fundamental level, entirely in the favor of that awareness. But again, that dips once again into a religious philosophy, so I’ll avoid going further in that direction.

    Just wanted to share a couple of my own thoughts on the subject, but enjoyed the article immensely.

    1. David Yerle Post author

      Hi Randy,
      While I appreciate disagreement, it makes it easier to have a friendly, productive discussion when opinions are framed less aggressively. I will be happy to engage in a discussion with you if you elaborate your point and express your opinion in a less forceful manner. I am always happy to exchange ideas with people, especially when we do not agree.
      Warm regards,

  14. Glen

    This is something that I’ve been contemplating for awhile now. And here I thought I was the only person who ever thought of this concept. I decided to do a Google search and lo-and-behold others have thought of this as well.

    It occurred to me that IF the universe is infinite then there are infinite copies of ‘me’ out there in space and time, each leading lives from slightly different to remarkably different. Furthermore there would be a version of me that lives, not necessarily forever, but for as long as is possible for a human being to live in my time and technological era. And though I may die to all the people around me, I am personally in the consciousness (the awareness) that WILL live as long as possible.

    Though it did occur to me that it’s very likely that I am now existing in a period of time that may soon see the scientific extension of and eventual end of aging, the reversal of the aging process, or even the transference of one’s consciousness into a computer.

    So….yes ‘immortality’ or at least living as long as is conceivably possible, is something that I thought is a distinct possibility.

    But what of those who lived during times when there was simply no possibility of anyone living beyond a normal human lifespan?

    If this quantum immortality concept were correct, would there not be at least one person living today who was thousands of years old? Perhaps not, because all those people did die before me, me being the one in MY universe who will live eternally (or as long as is conceivably possible).

    Nevertheless, in the universe of some consciousness ‘awareness’ born in 537 CE, how might that person still be living in their reality, their universe? Rapid technological advancement after 537? An alien visits Earth and picks them up, maintaining their life indefinitely? What other explanations could their be? Mutation that ceases their aging process?

    This is not a problem if this idea only extends to living as long as is absolutely possible given all realistic possibilities.

    So while I expect that I will live at least as long as any of the me’s could live (in my universe, not yours), I’m not so sure that ALL versions of me will not perish at one point simply due to there being no realistic way for any versions of me to continue on.

  15. Conner Harkness

    David — I love the article. Glad I am not the only one to believe such a wild idea. This thought often leads me to wonder why I am conscious in this particular universe.

    Is there something particularly special about this experience on Earth that the universe granted me as opposed to the others? It’s clear to me that I might possibly be immortal (within the context of my own consciousness), however, your article, among the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, suggests that any event with multiple outcomes splits reality into two or more possibilities.

    Why am I experiencing this immortality as opposed to another? I don’t expect an answer, but rather, I would assume this question would have crossed your mind and wanted to open it up for discussion.


    Many people demonstrate the ability to lead consistently positive and negative lives, regardless of their philosophies concerning life and consciousness. This observation leads me to believe that we are responsible for our own experiences and that we invent our own realities. I am suggesting that we may possibly be our own god, for a lack of better words.

    In a conventional, physical sense, I am accepting responsibility for everything that has ever happened in my life. Some aspect about how I choose to perceive the universe directly influences things that happen that I am soon to become aware of.

    I also wonder if these two subjects are related in a way.

    Perhaps we are just instances of an object in some program, and our experiences only exist as interpretations of data in computer memory. We can interface with other objects, but we cannot modify their memory without first accessing their public methods. After all, our consciousness is just an interpretation of sensory input and in theory, anything and everything in this universe can be expressed as information.

    Thank you for your time and thank you for a wonderful article.

  16. William Wilcock

    I think if there are inifinite realities then the chances, the probability of the exact same reality occurring would happen due to it being infinite an exact copy of one us would occur with the same chemistry all amalgamating into one of us. This is the same as infinite monkeys bashing a keyboard because it’s infinite the chances of the occurance that one monkey bashing a keyboard randomly would amalgamate into a monkey typing an exact replica of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet is a reality because it could happen some time in the inifinity of it happening. So there for I believe that in infinite realities versions of us have existed forever and for all of space time and will always exist and that they even existed before our own universes Big Bang.


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