The Conscious I

If the purpose of government is ultimately to keep people happy by imposing order in ways that provide the maximal amount of pleasure to a given populace, especially in the case of what would be seen as "the perfect government", then wouldn't the easiest to govern populace be, say, a theoretical group of people wired up so that they were shut off entirely from the world and fed only maximal pleasure stimulai, thereby making them as happy as they could be all the time? Could you then, theoretically, create any sort of system around that to maintain order, because the people would always be ecstatically content?

What I mean to say is, if you had a workforce whose minds could be separated from their bodies and "backed up" in a sense, making each individual immortal, their minds sustained while pleasure centers were endlessly stimulated to the maximum and bodies continued to work in the background, totally unobserved regardless of what tasks they were performing, would you not then have a perfect populace, thereby allowing for a perfect government?

Would there be a loss of self if the quest for betterment were suddenly utterly fulfilled? What would happen to the things that provide character, idiosyncracies, the unique characteristics that define the self, the soul, as it were? Is our entire existence as conscious beings due to and defined by the painful experiences we endure between triggerings of our pleasure centers? Would we even have a self if it wasn't for pain? Or would we simply be a blank slate experiencing never-ending joy-stimulation? Would that even be a life? How would such a being define itself? Would it even be sentient or conscious? Or perhaps a more basic question - - if the mind is detatched from the body, where does the self go? In the case of what may become our future - - digital backup of the mind as an attempt to beat out death, what will happen to the "I" that is the conscious self within all of us? Will it be transferred with the mind to the software? Will the software then be conscious with the self that I know and feel as I, or will it die with the body? I know that I am only capable of maintaining a single consciousness - this body's consciousness, the self that is I, but which body would the self that is I inhabit if my mind were backed up on a computer and my body were euthanized?

Or consider mind-linkup, group consciousness. If the mind were linked to a network of minds and this network became its own mind, its own individual, singular consciousness, who would be the self? Who would be the conscious I behind that group individual? Can one exist as part of a group individual such as that without losing his or her more singular individuality?

If I design an artificial intelligence, then upload the minds of an entire world into it to create a group consciousness, an individual mind whose body is composed of billions of bodies, then euthanize those bodies, leaving only the digital group individual, what becomes of the one individual self that is I among that sea of minds merged into the group organism? Who or what consciously sees that group mind as I? Do all the minds simply act and feel in concert as a single mind and feel (individually and yet wholly) that they are the conscious I? Would my "self" then be me and everyone else, thereby making me individually and singly every other person uploaded into the mix?

How does this work with a notion of a soul? If the bioelectric energy within our minds is the self, the spirit, the soul, as it were, and energy is neither created or destroyed, only changed, then simply recording the information locked in the brain which defines the self into a digital format wouldn't actually record the true self, the conscious I, would it? Would a special means therefore be necessary to "back up" the soul on corporeal recordable media? A means which "downloads" and incorporates the bioelectric energy of the body without letting any of it go or escape? Or would there simply be multiple selfs, a copy of the I within each body my consciousness is copied into that is a fully cognizant self? If so, then which one is the me that is I? If that me that is I dies, do I die? What about the I that is consciously me in my clones?

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