Image from Steve Bowers and Artbreeder AI
Pyan-radi Ee, an Immortalist explorer, observing a partial Dyson sphere from the singleship which has been her home for eight thousand standard years.
Immortalists are modosophonts who aspire to attain immortality through indefinite perpetuation of their physical body. Although some Immortalists have migrated through a number of different bodies in their youth, they generally pick a particular body or morph and stick with it for the foreseeable future. The body they choose may be completely biological, completely artificial, or a mixture between the two; but (unlike many citizens of the Terragen Sphere) once they have chosen it they then retain the same form with only minor modifications.

The most significant modification adopted by most Immortalists is memory augmentation and extension. In a biological body, the sophont's memories would begin to fade after a few decades or centuries, and after a millennium or two the original personality would be lost almost completely. Some Immortalists accept and even welcome this change; but most prefer to store significant memories and personality traits artificially, either in an external exocortex or completely separate memory banks, or within the body in specially designed data-rich internal organs. Particularly commonplace are synanobones with diamondoid data storage, and deep tattoos with embedded memories that cover the skin and other organs.

Almost all Immortalists are subscribers to the Continuity Identity Theory, so they rarely utilise technology which depends on the assumptions inherent in Pattern Identity Theory, such as backups, copying, engeneration and the Lightways. However, a small minority of Immortalists do make backup records of their mindstate on occasion, especially when venturing into extreme environments.

Among virtual sophonts, a small fraction of individuals have chosen to live as virtual immortalists; these entities each exist in a single instance, and resist upgrades and other forms of virtual augmentation in order to retain their sense of continuous identity. Virtual immortalists sometimes accept deactivation and storage as data, with the proviso they will be reinstated in another virtual environment in exactly the same format. In this way they hope to maintain their continuity of identity.

Image from John B

Although orthodox Immortalists generally subscribe to the Continuity Identity theory, and retain the same body thoughout their extended lifespan, a much larger group of potentialliy immortal sophonts have no such restrictions, and utilise various forms of uploading, downloading and radical neurotechnology to change their physical or virtual form at will, Such heterodox immortalists regularly change their psychological constitution as well, since changing physical form often includes a complete overhaul of the psyche, sensorium, and the proprioception complex. Immortal sophonts of this persuasion change so much during their lifetime that they have few characteristics in common with their younger selves. Orthodox Immortalists tend to dismiss this form of extended lifespan as inauthentic.
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Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev; amended by Stephen Inniss
Updated by Steve Bowers 2024
Initially published on 10 November 2001.