You may have heard some version of a cliché that, “We are our memories.”, but the more you think about it, the more it seems true.
What struck me the other day is the connection to happiness.
What happens when we can manipulate memories at the level of the brain? What happens, in other words, when we can create, insert, and delete experiences externally, in a way that is indiscernible from them actually happening to us.
The first thing that came to mind was that we all get to become superheroes and princesses.
But then I thought of something more disturbing, and unfortunately even more attainable: we could simply have the same pleasurable experience over and over again, and call that a happy life.
Imagine if you could experience falling in love in the best way possible, over and over again, for the first time. Or becoming a hero. Or being voted the most beautiful women in the world. Or winning the Oscar.
We could just have brains in a jar, and load them up with a repeatable experience that we constantly erase and replay. Or we could fashion a designer life by going into a lab and having designer experiences injected into an otherwise normal life.
The difference wouldn’t matter much to us, especially if they came with the ability to replay them in great detail, or even to have it again.
The point here is that our identity is defined by remember what happened to us in the past, and if we can change that we can change ourselves.