It is the age of artificial intelligence and almost everyone on the planet is living in virtual reality. Your wildest biopunk dreams have started to come true. Most of the people you know have surrendered to living in the grips of biotechnology. They have each decided whether they want to live as a brain or heart and uploaded one of these to the internet. There are distinct characteristics that make each choice attractive.
Cyberpunk by Heart
Say you choose the heart. At some point before you die, you choose to upload your heart, both the physical organ and all the emotions that it has ever contained, into a virtual state. Imagine the feelings that you have had for the person you considered the love of your life reinhabiting your consciousness. It does not live inside of you by itself, though. The feelings of all the people you have considered yourself in love with are driving your decisions in virtual reality. Could you ever establish which one of those emotional tracks gets the priority?
It is likely you cannot. In our current state and in any romantic relationship, there is always a struggle for dominance. One person must lead and the other must follow. They may switch roles at different times, but there will always be one that is leading the direction of the couple unit. Now apply that same energy to feeling all the loves you have loved at the same time. I imagine it could burst a heart wide open.
Sometimes, emotions this strong have the power to affect your physical health and place your body in regression or decline. If you decide to upload your heart and it is filled with these things, you are setting yourself up for a prolonged agony.
Biopunk by Brain
Deciding to upload your brain may have similar room for caution. You are deciding that the full sum of who you are will be determined by your thoughts. This has less to do with your intellectual capabilities and more to do with how well you can focus on a single train of thought to bring about a result. If you can manage to carve out an existence that works for you, then you will find ways to make biotechnology work for the good of the cyber universe. However, there are consequences to living a "brain only" life.
When a situation calls for deep feeling and compassion for other brains or hearts, you may not have that capacity. While there are many who agree that the brain and its high level of complex thinking patterns are truly what make us human, there are many others who know that impressive thinking means nothing without a consultation of the heart. There are many schools of thought about which of these is the better choice.
What Biotechnology Made Possible for Death
For as long as any of us have been here, we have likely been reminded that no human can escape death. It is an inevitable state of human life that everyone who breathes will reach. The best that each of us can do is fulfill all the promise of our own lives without waiting for the moment to snatch us. Biotechnology has shifted this perspective quite a bit.
What if the life expectancy for the average human was not limited by how many years the human body could withstand its own wear and tear while managing the effects of gravity and aging? What if death could be defined as the moment when your "consciousness" is no longer accessible, rather than the moment your heart stops beating or your brain has no more impulses? This would mean a completely different set of possibilities for human life.
If what I suggest about choosing to live as a human heart or a human brain were possible, it would mean people have a viable way to preserve themselves as an entity until the end of time, or until the end of virtual reality. The idea of death would have an entirely new meaning. People could have bucket lists that extend for centuries.
The Cost of Biopunk to Live As We Know It
Of course, you cannot consider this kind of scenario without thinking of the pressures it might place on the quality of human life. If you knew you could live 100 years, what might change about the way that you choose to live your life? What would you keep the same but add more of it? The idea of getting the most out of your lifespan would be filled with infinite possiblities. Many generations of the same family could be alive at the same time, making it possible to really get to know the expanse of a bloodline. This would absolutely change the game for everything we have ever known.
Everything about the possibility of living as either a head or a heart, of shifting to complete cyberpunk mode, suggests that one choice is reliant on the other. When the heart rules, actions that you take are not always reasonable or framed for self-preservation. In a world where your continuation as a member of the planet depends on this choice, you would need to decide which of these paths you could take and still control the dark shortcomings of your choice. Your longevity could depend on it.