Give my Body to A.I.

I used to want for my dead body to sink to the bottom of the ocean. I used to want for my dead flesh to be eaten by fish and sea critters. I used to want for the molecules of oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, carbon, and calcium that compose 99% of my body to go back to Nature and continue their “natural” journey. I used to love the idea that “my” atoms would spread all over the Planet and find themselves in trees, plants, and animals. In fact, I used to believe that going “back” to Nature when you die was the highest gesture of gratitude one could do. Now in a twist worthy of the best thrillers you can find on Netflix, when I die, I want my body to go to science. I want “my” molecules to become part of the knowledge and technology needed to go beyond the “natural way”.

Say what again?

It is quite a change of heart for someone who wrote 10 years ago Our Salvation in God Technologius, and who for the last 20 years has been an open critic of using technology for “unnatural” procedures. You might be surprised to learn that while I recognized the joy it brought to many, I wasn’t a big fan of IVF (in vitro fertilization). My rationale was if Nature was not working “naturally”, then there was a reason for it. And if you force Nature, then there are long-term costs that would not justify short-term gains. I also hadn’t signed my donor card. Why? Because I wanted the entirety of my “self” to go back to Nature. If I were to find communion with the Universe at the end of my days, it would be hard to do so without all the pieces that “Nature” had given me. Missing an organ would certainly mess up my “dead” energy flow! I also believed we had enough people on Earth and helping someone whose “natural” time had come to go beyond, would not really elevate the whole other than please a very small circle of individuals. I know. Those are quite hard opinions. My perspective was always the long “natural” road, and since Nature has been working at it for billions of years, then there must have been a good reason for whatever it did.

Now before I carry on, I just want to stress that for 15 years, I did solo wilderness expeditions and spent hundreds of hours watching Nature “be”. In my book FEEL THE WILD, I write the following: “…Within Nature I found the family I was looking for, the structure of values and insights that would teach me about life, about what it is to be human and what it is like to live on this planet. That deep connectedness has never left me since. I carry it with me everywhere I go, wherever I find myself, whether I am alone or not.” For the record, it is still with me and at the core of my being. If you are curious about my book reviews, you are welcome to read them here on Amazon.

For years I ran a program called WILD.ECO where I took all the lessons I had learned from Nature and turned them into a life mentorship. It was extremely humbling to guide young adults and older ones while witnessing their transformation. I have interviewed over 200 high-profile leaders from a broad spectrum of backgrounds and asked them about the values they believed Nature had taught them. Answer: Beauty. Humility. Respect. I even created an acronym: Nature Nurtures, Awakens, Transforms, Uplifts, Restores, and Elevates the Human Spirit. And in 2020, I did a keynote for IMEX about using Nature as a framework for personal transformation.

If it was not enough, I have had the privilege to receive Ayahuasca and Yopo from Grand Shamans, experiencing the divine and Nature in ways no words can express. (Hint: the Universe is alive!)

So believe me what I say: “I get Nature! I get the Planet!”

This is not a mid-life crisis manifesto I am writing just a year away from my 50th birthday. It is not some philosophy mumbo jumbo I just came up with after typing “facing my mortality” in ChatGPT (no I did not!). It is also not a mea culpa admitting I was wrong for all those years. Life is complicated and perspective changes with time. As John H. Patterson said: “Only fools and dead men don’t change their mind. Fools won’t. Dead men can’t.” And if you have embarked on a journey of curiosity and discovery, you are bound to develop a sense of the world that is complex and diverse. This is a really thought-through reflection about our place in the Universe and I hope it will bring you a bit of perspective.

So back to that “get-out-of-here-you-can’t-be-serious” change of mind!

I might have been conceived in the forest (true story), but I was born in a hospital, in a sterilized environment, and with the assistance of professional doctors who knew better than to let “Nature” run “wild”. If you want to know what it meant to give birth in a wild world, read any book or watch any documentary depicting life in the 1900s,1500s, or any time before. Yes, today you can give birth at home in a more natural setting, but always close by is the medical support. Now I don’t think I am wrong when I say Nature’s idea of giving birth is pretty far from being safe. Efficiency would be more appropriate. Drop the newborn out and hope for the best. Unless you want to gamble your life or your baby, I don’t recommend heading to the wilderness by yourself so you can bring into this world a new life! You might discover Nature is not your best friend.

Apparently, in the womb, my legs were twisted. For many years I had to sleep with braces forcing my feet open so my legs could go back to their natural position. For years, I had to wear corrective soles. My childhood is filled with memories of being annoyed every time we had to go get me a new pair of shoes. Instead of looking for the cool ones I had to reluctantly choose the ugly ones with strong support. Now looking back, had my parents let Nature be, I would have probably lived a life of chronic pain. So let’s just say I am grateful for the braces and ugly shoes.

I grew up with a roof over my head and clothes on my body. Our house, like most in North America had electricity and plumbing. When I was young I got my chicken pox, measles, rubella, mumps, whooping cough, and tetanus vaccines which gave me the advantage of dealing with natural deadly diseases in ways just 50 years ago seemed impossible. Like many other kids, I got a couple of cavities. What was a matter of life or death in the past had become nothing more than a visit to the dentist. It is incredible how our relationship with our teeth changed when we started adding fluoride to drinking water. Did you know our teeth were one of the main sources of death until we invented anesthesia? Crazy Nature right?

I came into this world with only 2 legs yet I travel on wheels and wings. I could eat with my hands but I use a fork. I could use my teeth to tear the meat off the bone, but I use a knife. I could eat everything raw but thank god we came up with the idea of cooking food. Which is not natural. Neither is bread making. Eating grass and raw meat on the other hand is. Fun fact – alcohol is a natural product. It occurs in Nature without any human intervention. I wonder why!

Unfortunately to the dismay of food purists, all our food is somehow “unnatural”, even the salad which has been fertilized through a process that allows us to create nitrogen from the air. Why? Because we get our food through one of humans’ greatest innovations – agriculture. True, hunting, foraging, and harvesting are more natural, but I don’t see anyone going out with their bare hands and no shoes. We have bows, arrows, rifles, fishing poles, nets, crab pots, knives, and shovels. The imprint of human technology is everywhere while Nature is kept in check. Now there is indeed a significant difference between using more natural procedures and creating stuff with ingredients you can’t even pronounce. You won’t see me argue on that. But the reality is the success of our species exists because we succeeded in engineering our food supply.

My health is enhanced through daily additives. I take an Aleve whenever my back acts up. I have a doctor who monitors yearly the state of my body and the health of my blood. At my age 100 years ago, people were old and dying. Today, I am in my prime time. Did you know Michael J Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 32 years ago, a disease that has an average life expectancy of 7–15 years?

I got an education and have had the privilege of living in an age where our society has unshackled itself from the 3 biggest killers (2 natural) our world has faced. (War; Famine; Disease. read Yuval Noah Harari’s Homo Deus). I got to experience a time when a world epidemic brought the planet to a stop and a year later we had a variety of vaccines. Not only did we have one vaccine offered to us but we had several options, all more or less doing what they were supposed to do.

For the skeptics and conspiracy theorists, take a time machine and go back to 100 years ago and see how things were back then.

I realize today everything in my life has been somehow engineered to counter the natural way and protect my survival. When I look at it all, I exist because of the technologies our kind has created. Even the access to the wilderness I cherish so much I have to thank the roads, vehicles, and gear we have designed and built. They might not admit it but the most hardcore Nature lovers would not in their right mind renounce all the conveniences of modern life. Whether we want it or not, we all find ourselves living on a spectrum of unnatural existence. No one lives in a truly natural way because no one wants to live with Nature at the helm of the ship.

Now talking about wilderness, let’s not kid ourselves. One of the reasons we enjoy it so much is because we have a “civilized” place to come back to. We choose when and where we venture. Nature is not a reality we have to deal with. It is more of a luxury we get to experience when we want to.

In fact, we romanticize nature. We call it Mother Nature and get drunk on the idea of a nurturing and loving entity. We censor the kill from predators than watch movies where lions and zebras live happily ever after. From our city dwellings, we portray it as a world of perfect equilibrium where everything lives in harmony. For the record, it is not. It is a world of destruction and creation. It is not a fair place and doesn’t care who or what wins or loses. It certainly doesn’t want perfection. Where does evolution go when things are perfect? It wants tension and disruptions. It is a sort of organized chaos. Each species is out for itself. Each is adjusting to another and always looking to get an edge. That is what bacteria do. Fungi and plants too. Fish, birds, reptiles, and mammals are all included. The equilibrium is an illusion, a perception when looking at the big picture over hundreds, thousands, and millions of years. When looked closer, everything is fighting to survive.

So animals, plants, and insects live at the mercy of Nature. All they do is exist in a world of actions and reactions where their survival depends on evolutionary countermeasures where changes happen in minute ways and on a scale of thousands of years. None of them are looking at their situation wondering how they can manipulate their destiny and figure a way around it. Nature is and Nature will be.

But we do. We go beyond what is given to us and are constantly redrawing the lines of destiny. Truth is there is no “natural way”. We have been creating our own reality since we started transforming the environment to maximize our survival. We use tools to make Nature work for us. We invent technologies so we don’t have to let it dictate the outcome. Our entire existence is the result of our capacity to not let Nature rule.

Don’t get me wrong, I value Nature and there isn’t an inch in me that wants to live in a world of machines where Nature has been relegated to a picture on a wall. But I also understand that the continuation of our survival lies in our capacity to go beyond the “natural way”, here on Earth and beyond in Space. We must do everything we can to redefine what is possible while at the same time taking care of the world from where we came from. It means that as Children of the Earth, we must take care of the Planet!

Nature is the place to start but it is not the whole story. Like our parents, grandparents, great grandparents and all of our ancestors, each has tried to be better than the one before. We all exist and have existed with the intent of giving a better chance to our children. Ultimately what we do is play a major role in moving life forward. Nature gave us the foundation but we are giving it direction. We are the sailboat that uses the wind to cross an ocean. Of course, we could think of floating our way but what are the chances of survival in this? Zero really! We take the scale and randomness of Nature and focus it on a precise objective – the continuation of our species, and consequently of life.

I used to believe Nature was the ultimate authority. My relationship with it was religious, meaning it was something bigger than me through which I made sense of the world surrounding me. It is still the case and there is nothing wrong with that. But along the way, I made the same mistake others have done with religion. While being good at highlighting Nature’s benefits and principles, I turned it into a dogma. I preached its “moral” superiority and dismissed human’s own ingenuity. It was my mistake. And I recognize it now.

I love Nature. I love the planet. I want to live in a world that is rich and diverse where wilderness exists and is something I can experience. I don’t want it to disappear for sure. That would be a huge tragedy. And I want to make sure we bring it with us as we venture into Space. But I also recognize Nature in its purest form will get us nowhere. Nature is not the answer. It is part of it, yes. It is definitely the starting point and the foundation. Just like what our parents gave us is fundamental in our journey to becoming a person. But we are the future. We are the children that carry the legacy. We control the fire and build with it. We manipulate the air and travel with it. We take Nature and elevate it. (Or we crash it. That is a possibility. But I believe otherwise. If interested read ”We are the Best and Worst of Nature”)

In my FUTURE of SPACE article “A LETTER FROM EARTH IN SUPPORT OF SPACE EXPLORATION”, I express how the Earth has been waiting for this moment for 3.6 Billion years, where life could get off the planet and continue its journey. There is a saying in the space industry that the demise of the dinosaurs was not having a space program. Here was a world that existed for hundreds of millions of years, only to disappear in the blink of an eye because of a giant space rock falling from the sky. I don’t want the randomness of the Universe to reset evolution again. I don’t want Nature to decide the fate of our species. Just like I don’t want the wind to decide where I go. I want to be the one hosting the sail and driving the helm so I can get where I want to be. I want our species to drive evolution so we can continue beyond the fate of the Earth.

Why? Because we are a miracle. If we look at the Universe and the numbers, we are the exception. We know life exists. In fact, the more we learn, the more we discover it doesn’t take much for life to spring out of places we thought were impossible. Life is a foundation of the Universe and I am sure we will discover plenty of it as we explore the Cosmos. But intelligent life is something extremely rare. Beyond rare. It took billions of years, a major accident, countless other minor accidents, and a tremendous amount of luck for our kind to come to life and rise above. For the sake of the mission, we can’t afford another billion years. We can’t afford to sit back and let Nature roll the dice. We have to sail our way forward and ensure our survival.

So back to my dead body and AI.

Do you know what fuels science? Data. Do you know what sets us apart? Our capacity to move data through time. The more data we have, the more we can learn and build. Once I am dead, my body will only be a collection of data and the question is where do I want that data to go? Giving my dead flesh to Nature would be a waste. It wouldn’t contribute to anything. I would throw away decades of unseen biological information. Useful information that tomorrow with the tools we have could help others to survive. Others who could contribute to society. Others who could find solutions or a cure. Others who could redefine what is possible. So give my body to science. You know what? Give my body to an AI. I am totally comfortable with having a software run through my atoms so it can find undetectable patterns and help solve problems.

While we are far from being a master of anything, we are indeed the captain of the ship. It is therefore our responsibility to use all the tools at our disposal to keep the crew and passengers safe so we can continue our journey. I used to think Nature was bigger than us. I used to believe we had to slow ourselves down. I thought all we had was this planet and consequently scaling back our growth was the only solution. What I realize now is this planet is just the beginning and growth is part of the grand plan. We must do everything we can to support the grand plan while nurturing our home planet. One cannot be at the expense of the other. We are to go beyond Nature while protecting it. This is what makes us different. This is why we are about to go to Space and give Nature its biggest gift.