In an exceptionally ambitious program inspired by movies such as The Matrix, Chinese technology giant Huawei is pursuing the human dream of immortality through a greater interaction between the brain and state-of-the-art electronics.
Huawei is the largest telecommunications equipment producer in the world, and makes broadband network equipment and smartphones, among other products.
Kevin Ho, president of Huawei’s handset product line, painted a future where children could use apps like WeChat to communicate with dead grandparents, whose human consciousness has been downloaded into computer memory.
Speaking at the CES Asia conference in Shanghai on Wednesday, Ho said that his company employs science fiction movies like The Matrix to project future trends and pushing its research and development.
Referring to a scene in the film where a character downloads the ability to fly a helicopter, Ho suggested that the main thing holding humanity back from such possibilities is telecommunications’ current speed and storage limitations.
“That kind of data download volume exceeds current levels,” he said. “In the future storage will need to exceed 15,000 Zettabytes so this is a huge increase.”
Bloomberg notes that talk of immortality is more popular in Silicon Valley than in China, with Calico and venture capitalist Peter Thiel both raising the question of immortality through technology.
But somehow the idea fits perfectly with Communist China’s official atheism as well. The possibility of achieving mankind’s goal of living forever without having to deal with the messy business of divinity and belief in a spiritual realm fits nicely with a state ideology that is overtly materialistic.
Despite its “official” openness to religion, China’s Communist Party has reiterated its hostility to religious faith as contrary to the identity and goals of the nation.
“We must resolutely guard against overseas infiltrations via religious means and prevent ideological infringement by extremists,” President Xi Jinping said at a recent meeting.
Members of the Chinese Communist Party, he said, must be “unyielding Marxist atheists,” underscoring a basic tenet of Marxist materialism.
Replacing spirituality with technology may prove a bigger task than China currently realizes, however. People may also get tired of waiting for state promises of immortality and an earthly utopia to materialize.
Recent reports indicate that Christians in China now outnumber the members of the ruling communist party, and Christianity is growing even as the party attempts to tighten control over Christian self-expression by toppling crosses and demolishing churches.
In the race for immortality, in fact, the Christians seem to think they have something of a headstart.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter Follow @tdwilliamsrome