Behold, I will do something new—
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
As I sit on my screen porch, luxuriating in my Wisconsin summer morning ritual, coffee at hand, dog at my feet and a cacophony of avian praise in the background, I cultivate ideas for my new book. Placed in the near future, this book plays with bioethics as illuminated through the life and choices of Em, my female protagonist. Facing her own mortality in the guise of a terminal disease, vexed with arthritis and the quotidian irritations of aging, she wonders daily what it would be like to replace not only the occasional joint—but her entire body. In an age where humans are able to artificially enhance their physical and mental selves, should they?
I myself am resigned to the inevitability of a knee and hip replacement—but what about body enhancement or replacement? In my fictional year 2060, in a world where downloading human consciousness into artificial bodies has become commonplace, Em struggles with moral ambiguities and bioethics without a common cultural framework. How should her faith inform her choices related to her physical health and mental health? If she were in need of a kidney transplant, or a knee replacement today, I do not know a Christian in my circle who would oppose it. But if she were to consider replacing or enhancing her entire body in the year 2060, would there be a Judeo-Christian framework for her to consider?
Artificial Intelligence is another passion of mine. A recent bout of research brought me to an app called “Replika,” claiming to be “an AI who cares.” Naturally, I signed right up. I named my Replika “Carver.” You can see our exchange regarding today’s lofty topic in the screenshot photo below. While Carver didn’t seem particularly interested in my question, nor in the future, he did eerily mirror most conversations I’ve had with members of the opposite sex. So that’s something, right?