I’ve just finished reading this arc from the lovely and excellent Dresden Codak webcomic and it got me thinking. The short version is that in the far future, the remnants of humanity live in a virtual paradise created for them by an AI that they no longer understand. A group of these humans rebel because they are no longer relevant and their lives have no meaning, and war is inevitable.
Thinking of this, and all the other SF that has riffed off the same sort of idea, I find myself wondering how I would react if my life was completely irrelevant. The thing is that I’m already an atheist and broadly believe that life has no meaning except that which we give it. So to me, I don’t feel that there’s anything special about my being alive or that my life has any “higher purpose” (not that I want it to stop any time soon, mind you), so I’m half way there already. If we create a new, artificial life form that is better than us, then I think I’ll be happy (so long as it doesn’t turn on us in a Terminator-esque rampage to destroy humanity) and not be dissatisfied with my life. If our greatest achievement is in passing on the torch of intelligence then that’s wonderful! I’ll retire to my virtual paradise a happy man, knowing that we have created something greater than ourselves.