Posterity and Embodiment

15 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2008

See all articles by William A. Edmundson

William A. Edmundson

Georgia State University College of Law

Date Written: June 1, 2008


Our concern for the future and our conception of human nature have both a philosophical dimension and a public policy dimension. Which would be the better way to spend our next dollar: on life-extension or on artificial intelligence? Manned space-exploration or robotic space-exploration? Answering such public-policy questions involves confronting some deep philosophical mysteries. If you were only concerned for your own survival, would you prefer to have your brain transplanted into another body, or have your brain scanned and its information realized in the hardware of a durable, Turing-testable robot? Would it be better to live one long life without offspring, or a short life leaving generations of descendants? If personal superlongevity and normal fertility would lead to overcrowding, which should we choose? Does considering "existential threats" change how we should answer? This article explores the conceptual and empirical interdependencies of these seemingly disjoint questions.

Keywords: personal identitity, robotics, artiificial intelligence, AI, consciousness, death

Suggested Citation

Edmundson, William A., Posterity and Embodiment (June 1, 2008). Available at SSRN: or

William A. Edmundson (Contact Author)

Georgia State University College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 4037
85 Park Place NE
Atlanta, GA 30302-4037
United States
404-413-9167 (Phone)
404-413-9225 (Fax)


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