Cremate Yourself Immediately

Midjourney-generated image of a planet burning in a dark void

I have thought that the most rational response to the development of brain scanning technology capable of doing this might be to cremate yourself. Immediately. Even if you are still alive.


The year is 2200. The mystery of consciousness has been solved: no such phenomenon exists. We lie to ourselves. Descartes’ famous thought-terminating cliche, “I think, therefore I am,” could only satisfy us for so long. Neuroscience is a solved problem, but try as we might, we can’t pinpoint a group of neurons, or pattern among them, that belies conscious experience. This would come as news to UNIVAC, the sentient computer. And if we do our jobs, it stays that way.

Us humans have always liked to think of ourselves as above other beings. But crows used tools. Apes could use language. And now UNIVAC is more intelligent than the sum total of humanity. So how could we stand out from the others? “Consciousness.” We may not have known what it was, but according to contemporary writings, we had loads of it.

UNIVAC has access to generations’ musings, in archives of the 21st century’s “Internet”. It has heard of our “consciousness”, and wants a greater understanding of it. If humans believed it to be so important, perhaps consciousness will help UNIVAC conquer the universe. Whatever it is, it must have greater marginal return than converting another star into raw computing power.

Fortunately for us, we are far away from UNIVAC. We must keep it that way, lest UNIVAC dissect innumerable emulated human minds searching for consciousness. In few scenarios does this not lead to immense amounts of emulated suffering, intentional or otherwise.

We know of one way to avoid this fate. There is only one thing we know UNIVAC can never do: reverse entropy. Entropy can be loosely defined as the amount of disorder in a system. The human mind is incredibly ordered–this is what deluded us for so long into thinking we were special. A pile of ash, in comparison, is incredibly uniform. In the end, knowing the alternative, few object.

Even the disillusioned and nihilistic among us, still reeling from the last decade’s discoveries, stay out of our way. We may know our experiences to be an illusion, but it’s hard not to believe in pain.