On The Amazing Benefits Of Mind Uploading

Photo: Kemitsv (CC)

Photo: Kemitsv (CC)

Music and paying the gas bill have been digitalized, so you knew this was next. How can we stop abusing the environment, give ourselves superintelligence, and live forever? H+ Magazine on the inevitable necessity of switching from spongy flesh brains to uploaded ones:

Universal mind uploading, or universal uploading for short, is the concept (I’m not sure who originated it –if you know, say so in the comments), that the technology of mind uploading will eventually become universally adopted by all who can afford it, similar to the adoption of modern agriculture, hygiene, and permanent dwellings. Some futurists, such as myself, see the eventuality as plausible by as early as 2050.

Mind uploading would involve simulating a human brain in a computer in enough detail that the “simulation” becomes, for all practical purposes, a perfect copy and experiences consciousness, just like protein-based human minds. If functionalism is true, as many cognitive scientists and philosophers believe, then all the features of human consciousness that we know and love — including all our memories, personality, and sexual quirks — would be preserved through the transition…

Read More: H+ Magazine

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  • Anarchy Pony

    Wow, these guys have no idea what they are talking about. 

  • Calypso_1

    Truly I appreciate and pursue the human endeavor to explore, map and model the human brain and mindscape, but a century hence these models will be rather quaint and 2050 will come and go just like 2001 and 2010 did.  Futurists are fetishists, all fine and good, but rarely do they seem to be anybody who contributes to the building of the vision they find so rapturous.

  • Steve

    “…
    10-30 seconds ago when quantum fluctuations momentarily destroyed and recreated all the particles in your brain.”

    The author clearly has no idea what quantum fluctuations are.

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    Mind “uploading” will—never—happen……. people need to get past this and move on. Hoping for better a better world without acting is bad enough, but when people’s hopes lie in these backwards nonsensical worldviews it makes things scary.

    I once talked to someone about the singularity, and when it got it, i asked how exactly it would work. He replied frankly: “Nanobots”. At that point I gave up.

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/RWWAEM343UIK2IBZB3OXQZTQXM SPET67

      That’s it?  Nanobots that do what?  

      • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

        my point exactly.

        • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/RWWAEM343UIK2IBZB3OXQZTQXM SPET67

          I gotta wonder if he knew what a nanobot is.  

          • Calypso_1

            angels dancing on a pinhead

    • GlorifiedMeatSack

      “Never” is a rather severe word, especially when it comes to technology and human ingenuity. Is it possible that it might not happen? Sure. But it would be foolish and shortsighted to assume that it is impossible. Perhaps I have read too much Stross and Egan, but I find it to be an extremely plausible concept. My fingers are crossed, though I certainly know better than to hold my breath… 

      • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

        I will only concede that it may someday be somehow possible, but only after our current digital paradigm is scrapped. There is no possible way the incomprehensibly complex analog processes of the mind can be copied, or even reasonably imitated digitally. (of course I accept that it can be faked, and I suspect that any moment where the futurists think the singularity has finally arrived, will be a moment where they have all been fooled).

        • Calypso_1

          Have you looked at any of the work on artificial hippocampi?  That is a tech I think we’ll have in the foreseeable future.

          • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

            quite interesting. I’ll believe it when i see it, but still interesting.

        • GlorifiedMeatSack

          “the incomprehensibly complex analog processes of the mind” The human brain is the most complex and sophisticated piece of machinery that we have yet encountered…no rational person can deny this. But given enough time/effort/energy, I do not think that anything is ultimately unknowable and/or incomprehensible…  

          Feel free to check out this TED Talk…it is fascinating and thought-provoking:

          http://www.ted.com/talks/henry_markram_supercomputing_the_brain_s_secrets.html

          • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

            I mean, I suppose its a good introduction to these kinds of ideas but the title of the video is extremely misleading. They did not simulate a brain with a supercomputer. They simulated a SINGLE cortical column with a super computer. A piece he himself says that human neocortex has about a million of. You should look up the energy trap. How much energy would a million super computers cost to be run constantly per person who wants their mind “uploaded”.

            He does make one good point at the end about the importance of self reference, but does not emphasize how big a step this is. The funny thing about the mathematical/computational paradigm that he’s using is that it is designed in a manner to sterilize self reference out. The first crazy cook to try to put self reference back into mathematics got fractals, which implies the complexity of the issue.

            Edit: Also, it looked like the only interesting observations he could relate to the audience was about “ghostly like structures” that arose if you “ignore the neurons, ignore the synapses” and take a freezeframe of the electrical activity. This is precisely what i mean by “faking it” because one one day there will be a brilliant scientist that will try to say “this ghostly like structure means Rose”.

          • GlorifiedMeatSack

            “How much energy would a million super computers cost to be run constantly per person who wants their mind ‘uploaded’” Perhaps I have too much faith in human innovation, but I suspect that the super-computer of Tomorrow will make the super-computer of Today look like nothing more than a glorified abacus. And as these sorts of experiments into the human mind continue to grow/expand/evolve, the more precise they will become. In other words, it may ultimately require significantly less energy to upload than we are currently able to estimate. Or who knows? Perhaps you are right and it will be so complicated and energy-draining as to prove impractical and/or impossible. I am agnostic and fond of the theory of multiple-realities so I have no problem imagining some realities in which we achieve a practical form of uploading and some in which we do not… 

            I would like to go back to an earlier point you made, though: “Hoping for a better world without acting is bad enough, but when people’s hopes lie in these backwards nonsensical worldviews it makes things scary.” There is definitely a part of me that feels guilty about the fact that we are willing to invest so much time and money into figuring out these sorts of virtual issues when there are still human beings on this planet who don’t have access to clean drinking water/nutritious food/healthcare/etc. But even if we were to declare World Peace tomorrow and simultaneously eliminate poverty and cure every known disease…Yellow Stone could erupt and/or we could get hit by an asteroid and/or [fill in the blank] and then it would all have been for naught. The way I see it, our species only has two options for long-term survival: getting off this rock and populating other planets and/or uploading into machines and spreading ourselves into the cosmos like seeds…

            I don’t see these views as being “backwards” or “nonsensical” but simply as being necessary in order to guarantee the survival of our species. But then again, there is a part of me that feels like – unless we are able to make peace with ourselves before we are able to achieve any of these goals – then perhaps we do not deserve to survive. Otherwise, we are just going to spread our toxic influence and never learn from our mistakes… 

          • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

            Thanks for the thoughtful reply, I understand i get mildly belligerent sometimes. But I see trans humanism as something like a pseudo-religions as some other people have put it. People put so much effort in these ideas that we’re going to just change into something else and leave the rest behind(forgetting that it will only be a minority that will “change”). Its not exactly anything new, but it is the technological equivalent of white supremacy, and it comes from flawed logic that we can make the world better by having a minority transcend and kill all the rest to make room for them.

            And for what its worth, I agree that we need to be prepared for any sort of doomsday situation, but to me, sending out these seeds of “something like human” is not the same as preserving humanity

          • GlorifiedMeatSack

            “I see trans humanism as something like a pseudo-religions as some other people have put it” I suppose there will be fundamentalists in almost any crowd…those who won’t hesitate to say: “I know for certain that [fill in the blank]” Whereas I prefer to say: “Given the current body of evidence/knowledge – which continues to grow on an almost daily basis – I accept the possibility that these things may eventually come to pass…” I also LOVE this slogan: “The Singularity is the Rapture for nerds!” 

            “sending out these seeds of ‘something like human’ is not the same as preserving humanity” Suppose you could also send out organic “seed ships” which would contain the raw ingredients for life…a fully automated ship could then hatch an entire population once a suitable planet had been located. Me thinks that was the general premise for a novel by Arthur C. Clarke…

          • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

            Suppose that would be a nice last ditch effort(although it has nothing to do with the technological singularity that i have issues with). I guess I could say that I think there is more to humanity than simply our biology.

          • Monkey See Monkey Do

            “But even if we were to declare World Peace tomorrow and simultaneously eliminate poverty and cure every known disease…Yellow Stone could erupt and/or we could get hit by an asteroid and/or [fill in the blank] and then it would all have been for naught” – No it wouldn’t have.

            But you raise an interesting question about the meaning and purpose of being alive. Are we just survival machines? Or something more?

          • GlorifiedMeatSack

            “No it wouldn’t have” Obviously, it would still be a monumental achievement for our species. And it would still have been the right thing to do, even if no one else was watching to make sure. Perhaps there is something to be said for going out on a high note but it seems like a waste…to imagine all that could have been, had we only gotten our acts together in a more timely fashion.  

            “Are we just survival machines? Or something more?” I referred to this quote in a reply to Haystack, but feel that it is worth repeating here: “We are the universe made manifest, trying to figure itself out.” For me, as a skeptical agnostic, this notion helps me find balance in a world that seems sometimes to be horribly askew. It definitely covers the “more” which you refer to :-)

          • GlorifiedMeatSack

            “They did not simulate a brain with a supercomputer. They simulated a SINGLE cortical column with a super computer.” 

            Let’s give some credit where it is due…simulating even a single cortical column is a pretty sensational achievement :-) 

          • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

            True, but orders of magnitude less sensational than simulating a full brain. Like building this machine and saying you built the Death Star.
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z86V_ICUCD4

          • Calypso_1

            This might be a slightly more accurate comparison of this achievement in relation to the death star : )
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gj1pkyCL75E

          • GlorifiedMeatSack

            But it is a significant first step (or one of the first) in an admittedly long and daunting line of steps to come. Makes me think of that scene from What About Bob: “Baby-steps to the elevator…” 

  • GlorifiedMeatSack

    “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” ~ Arthur C. Clarke

  • Haystack

    Is this really “life extension” or is it just leaving behind a “child” copy of yourself after you die? The child may replicate your memories and behaviors, but would your self-awareness actually continue when activated in another body? What would happen if it were copied and activated in two bodies–which one would you “wake up” inside? How can we be sure that consciousness really is just a computational process, anyway? 

    Though we have a pretty firm grasp of neurology, I don’t think we understand enough about consciousness to make any rosy predictions about what technology will be able to do in fifty years, 

    • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

      Plus there’s this ancient technique, that’s been around for centuries… maybe even longer. It lets you leave these “child” copies (well, with some borrowed information from another) around, and they even exist while you’re still alive. Its a whole lot more fun too. (unfortunately according to philosophical idealists, there’s no way to PROVE that these copies are conscious either)

    • GlorifiedMeatSack

      “The child may replicate your memories and behaviors, but would your self-awareness actually continue when activated in another body?” Greg Egan really delves into these issues ad nauseam in Permutation City…one of the most challenging books I have ever read, though rewards are buried throughout. 

      “What would happen if it were copied and activated in two bodies–which one would you ‘wake up’ inside?” Well, technically speaking…you would wake up in both. And you would also still be conscious within your “glorified meat sack”, unless you chose to discard your body upon uploading. I like the idea that the multiple copies could eventually merge with each other and share all of the various knowledge and experiences which they had accumulated…

      “How can we be sure that consciousness really is just a computational process, anyway?” Your use of the word “just” is pretty significant…but within the realm of science, what else could it be? Also, another question to ask: is consciousness the result of the brain’s computational processes or is it the process itself?    

      • Haystack

        1. Sounds interesting. I’ll look into that book. 

        2. If you wake up in both bodies, then when you’re saying, in effect, is that there can not be a single, unique “ego” (or what some might call a “soul”) that continues on. What this thought experiment leads me to is that there is just one consciousness in the universe (“we’re all one”) and that individuality is rather an illusion. 

        3. I don’t think that the basic question of consciousness is knowable because all the information we have is gathered by conscious experiences. You can’t unlock a foreign language until you have the definition of at least one word–some external reference that unlocks the code. Since we are limited to our sensory experiences, and have no experience of anything outside the sensory realm, we can’t unlock consciousness using science. The computational process may just be superficial–like the shadow play on Plato’s cave–and the underlying truth may be something we simply aren’t equipped to fathom. 

        • GlorifiedMeatSack

          “What this thought experiment leads me to is that there is just one consciousness in the universe…” Makes me think of a great line from Babylon Five: “We are the universe made manifest, trying to figure itself out.” There is something about that notion which I find to be rather calming/balancing…

          “…and the underlying truth may be something we simply aren’t equipped to fathom” This is an excellent point, and one which I fully acknowledge the possibility of. But could it not also be possible that the underlying “truth” (a tricky word, admittedly) might prove to be something which is ultimately knowable and/or tangible? Perhaps it will turn out to be nothing more than* an incredibly complicated mathematical computation which – when given the infinite number of endless possibilities that have ever and will ever exist – will prove to have been inevitable. But even if it is/was inevitable, I don’t think that has to detract from its significance…as long as we appreciate it and don’t take it for granted.  

          *I say this with a considerable amount of humor and humbleness, because despite all of the craziness which the world has to offer, I am eternally grateful for having been given this momentary opportunity (even if it turns out to have been nothing more than a unique blip on an otherwise chaotic radar…) and for being able to have these sorts of thought-provoking conversations with others (or perhaps with myself, if the “we’re all one” theory turns out to be correct :-)  

  • http://www.ContraControl.com/ Zenc

    I sure hope the rich and powerful are able to upload their minds, because that’ll  just make it a whole lot easier to “pull their plug”.

  • Tchoutoye

    Transhumanism is pseudo-religion.

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/RWWAEM343UIK2IBZB3OXQZTQXM SPET67

      As with many things, take from it what you find useful or interesting & leave the rest.  

  • Mossflowerbonobo

    John Varley!

  • muad dib

    why the fuck is the proteus mind machine picture even on this? 

    i actually have one of those. Its pretty amazing, and goes very very well when used in conjunction with psychedelics.

  • TapMeYouFascists

    Sometimes, dead is bettah. 

  • Redacted

    Fear not the Reaper.

  • DeepCough

    Y’all sure you ready for this scene?

    http://artisword.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/the-matrix.gif

  • Established Poster

     I have the need to be accepted.  I cannot find this in society so I
    seek it on obscure, cultist forums on the internet.  Let me be clear, I
    have an unwavering opinion on everything.  I do this because I want
    people to think I am intelligent.  In the real world people don’t think I
    am intelligent.  If you agree with me (which I desperately crave) I
    don’t really care, but I will take the opportunity to respond to you so
    that I may demonstrate how intelligent I am.  By doing some quick
    research on the internet, I can site some little known names in said
    area which will fool you into thinking I have a very deep knowledge in
    that area.  I will ignore the fact that everyone else does the same, so
    long as you ignore it as well.

    If you disagree with me…well let’s just say that I will respond
    with logical spite.  Disagreeing with me threatens the persona I have
    spent years creating.  Secretly others laugh at me and think me a
    dunce.  I will punish you by pointing out stereotypical flaws in your
    view.  If you really piss me off, I will critique your grammar and
    highlight any spelling errors…this will show everyone how unlearned
    you are.  They will then assume that I have a unwavering mastery of the
    English language, spoken and written which is associated with being
    intelligent.  My delicate image will then be restored.  If you pursue
    disagreeing with me, I will seek approval from my fellow established
    posters and we will reinforce each other, all the while licking our our
    ice cream cone of gaining each others approval.  Beware, some of us are
    very clever and will make a snarky comment which will receive several
    “likes”…that means others are laughing at you and approving of me. 
    Right guys?

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