Flight of the Soul, p.1Kalifer Deil
Flight of the Soul
by Kalifer Deil
Copyright 2010 Kalifer Deil
The characters and their portrayal are products of the author’s imagination with the exception that the characters Ray Kurtz and Bob Mover are partially modeled after Ray Kurtsweil and Bill Moyer. The reference to Bill Gates was meant to be humorous. The events are wholly fictitious. Any resemblance to persons living or dead outside of the exceptions noted is coincidental.
Table of Contents
Overture - music “Heavy Curtain”
ACT I - Living Room Scene
Play Pause - music “Neural Response”
Intermission - music before and after “Gravely Techno1 & 2”
ACT II - Garden Scene
Play Pause - music “Tinkle Time”
Play Pause - music “Paradise Lost”
Closing - music “Final Word”
About the Author
Raymond Kurtz – fashioned somewhat after inventor/scientist Ray Kurzweil
Rev Faintspell – fashioned after any of a number of TV preachers
Bob Mover – A semi-neutral TV commentator with a pan religious view.(a Bill Moyer)
Carolyne Bluemoon – Movie actress who believes in re-incarnation
Mrs. Altavine – a rich elderly heiress who is concerned about her afterlife
The enclosed play was inspired by the contents of the book “The Age of Spiritual Machines” by Ray Kurtzweil, his own Socratic style, the play “Copenhagen” by Michael Frayn, and the movie “My Dinner with Andre” by Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory.
Music: The musical fabric referred to in this play was composed by Kalifer Deil and Jeff Whitman. The radio version of the play was performed by a group of engineers from Apple computer and it is available from the author along with the music.
The sumptuous living room of Mrs. Altavine. Mrs. Altavine in a plush chair, Raymond in another chair and the remainder on a rather large sofa allowing much space between each.
Overture Music: “Heavy Curtain”
Act I - Living Room Scene
[Radio Version Introduction:
Announcer: Everlasting life! Is it possible in this corporal reality? This play investigates this possibility.
Mrs. Altavine is a well-to-do widow living in upstate New York in a very nice but not too imposing house. She has gathered together a few notable people who, she feels, will shed some light on this matter. Did she invite one too many?]
The guests have all arrived. Let’s go into Mrs. Altavine’s living room and eavesdrop.
Mrs. Altavine: Could you all introduce yourselves for the benefit of the others. You all travel in quite different circles so you may not know each other. Let’s start with you Ray.
Ray: Yes, I’m Ray Kurtz. I’m the president of a company which makes a number of devices and software that augments humans and machines. I’m also a professor at MIT
Mrs. Altavine points to each person to introduce themselves.
Rev.: I’m Reverend Faintspell and anyone who owns a TV set knows who I am. Almost any time night or day I’m on the air doing God’s work.
Bob Mover: I’m Bob Mover. Lately, I’m a commentator on NPR and have done a number of specials on philosophy and religion.
Carolyne: I’m Carolyne Bluemoon and I’m an actress, at least I was. One is never quite sure when their acting career is over. (Nervous laugh) I’m also very interested in the occult which has gotten me parodied on Saturday Night Live.
Slight chuckle from the others.
Mrs. Altavine: I’m very glad you could all make it. I wasn’t sure my inducements would work but I’m sure you all have projects or charities which could use the money. My topic of concern is my consciousness going on after my physical demise. Up to now religious hope was all anyone had but the situation may have changed. Isn’t that the case Ray?
Ray: I believe it has but there are many things that have to be worked out technologically, legally, morally and strategically.
Bob: Ray, I’ve read your article about virtual life in a neural emulation but didn’t fully understand it. Perhaps you can clarify.
Ray: Well, to put it in the simplest possible terms, the human brain is carefully frozen to liquid nitrogen temperatures after death. The brain is then sliced into ultra thin slices, scanned with a number of devices including a transmission electron microscope. This information is then reassembled, transformed in a number of ways and fed to a highly parallel computer system optimized for neural processing. For all practical purposes this is you again.
Rev.: It’s just a machine! It has no soul! It’s blasphemy and most of all it’s the sin of pride.
Carolyne: And when the soul reincarnates to the next person….
Rev.-- Interrupts: Reincarnation is the refuge of the feeble minded hoping for another crack at redemption!
Bob: Whoa! Let Carolyne have her say.
Carolyne: I just wanted to say, where does the soul go if it has a choice?
Rev.: What the hell are you talking about?
Bob: I think I know, She wants to know whether the soul will go on to the next person from the reincarnation point of view or will it go to the machine.
Rev.: A machine doesn’t have a soul! God didn’t make the damn machine!
Bob: If you think about it for a minute God did too make the machine, … by proxy!
Ray: Maybe I can clarify. Suppose you have a pacemaker, and I understand you do Reverend; does that mean you don’t have a soul because part of you is electronic?
Rev.: Oh come on. Having a pacemaker is like holding a fork in your hand. The fork helps you eat and the pacemaker help your heart beat. What’s the difference?
Ray: Okay, now suppose the pacemaker isn’t sufficient and they need to replace your heart with an artificial one. What about your soul then?
Rev.: Really, don’t be ridiculous! The heart is just a pump. No one living today believes the soul is in the heart!
Ray: Let’s take another step. Suppose you become hard of hearing and the doctor says your defective inner ear can be replaced with a cochlear implant. How does this affect the soul?
Rev.: I see where you’re going. You’re going to have me replace things one by one until I’m entirely electronic. Well, I don’t buy it!
Ray – slight laugh: Probably not many of us could afford it until the distant future but it will happen. Where would you draw the line, the line of soul to no soul?
Rev.: What are you talking about, you don’t even believe in the soul!
Ray: That’s true. I’m just trying to understand this from your context.
Rev.: No, you are trying to manipulate me to revoke my belief in the soul. You are one of the Devil’s minions!
Ray: Name calling already and we haven’t even spent 10 minutes together.
Bob: Let me follow up on your train of thought Ray. You were about to say what if the brain were replace little by little with an electrical brain.
Ray: Let me state it a little more carefully. Suppose we have an electronic neuron which has the identical behavior to the biological one and we are able to initialize it to have exactly the same response as a particular biological one. Also suppose it fits where the old one was. The question really is, if you were conscious while this operation takes place you would know or feel anything different.
Rev.: I’d know!
Ray: I don’t think so. Everything would be as it was before. Carrying this on until the entire brain is replaced you would still know and feel nothing different. Obviously, this is not practical but it is a valid thought experiment.
Bob: So your argument is that consciousness is transferred to the electronic version of the human brain.
Rev.: So you just turned someone into a damn robot!
Carolyne: Maybe the soul fades away from the body as you gradually make the brain electric.
Ray: That would suppose there is a little bit of soul essence in every neuron.
Carolyne: Maybe in every cell of the body.
Bob: Following that line of thinking people who have lost a limb would have lost some soul. I certainly can’t believe that.
Carolyne: Well, I think every bit of matter in the universe has a soul.
Ray: Well, that solves the soul problem then. Replacing biological neurons with electronic neurons will do just fine. You’re just swapping one piece of soul matter with another. (Slight laugh)
Rev.: This is a ridiculous discussion. (Directing his attention to Ray) You’re just humoring her. You think she’s a wacko just as I do.
Ray: You’re correct that I don’t believe in a soul but I respect the right of others to believe otherwise. There seems to be a number of issues mixed up here, the soul, consciousness and intelligence. We can have machines which are intelligent without being
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