Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Uploading minds: not just science fiction anymore




Socrates at Singularity-1-on-1 has done an interview with Dr. Randal Koene, the neuroscientist who co-founded both Carbon Copies and the Neural Engineering Corporation of Massachusetts.  You can watch or listen to the entire interview here.  The topic of discussion was, among other things, the transhuman notion of uploading the human mind.

Transhuman enthusiasts have both anticipated and hoped for such an idea to come of age.  Often times it seemed that as cybernetics advanced, the technology to perform the act was well on its way, however the necessary knowledge of just how the brain works was lacking.  Both required subjects of knowledge and technology may be on their way towards equilibrium.

Koene’s goal is whole brain emulation, large scale and high-resolution representations and emulations of working neural pathways.  As you might expect, there are several ethical and philosophical questions that come about when considering this activity, questions that are quite familiar to transhumanists.  One of the areas that the interview ventured into was if you upload your brain or create a copy of it in the form of an emulation and then make successive copies, who has more rights?  The original or the copies?  Is copy number one more entitled to life than copy number five? 
Koene wisely answers this question with another question: is the copy really you?  He cites the work of Max More in saying that the answer lies in how abrupt the differences are between you and the copy.  Additionally, Koene points out that when questions like these arise in the face of emergent technology, humans have a tendency to act as if we’ve never before faced such things.  In fact, the questions are typically very old ones only clothed as something new.  The question of who lives and who dies has been around for a very long time.

As gung-ho as I have been about cybernetic enhancement or placing my mind in an indestructible…or at least very durable and not prone to illness…container, this is not entirely what I had in mind.  A copy of myself doesn’t really do me much good from the way I see it.  I want to extend and enhance myself, not duplicate it.


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3 comments:

  1. This brings to mind an article I recently came across: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2011/06/20/brain-implant-restores-memories-in-rats-by-recording-playing-them-back/

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  2. Oh come on! We can store our memories in cloud and access it.It would negate memory loss.Then again we could use it to store more info.
    Damn it we can just share memories files(birthdayparty2010.memo) on facebook.We can see excellent quality photo or video on 3d monitors from our memories. Uploading mind in digital form does not make it think.We need hardware to emulate that. Such an hardware can be linked to our brain and we shhall be adopting to it slowly.Then phasing out our aging brain...and using the hardware. I just hope that it is not made in china....or by apple which will control your mind...lol.

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  3. Heh. Yeah. Imagine "jailbreaking" your mind?

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