In California, progressive scientists and billionaire patrons consider information and communication technologies to widen life by uploading sentiments to prevail separately from the body is only a few years away
Heres what happens. You are lying on an operating table, fully self-conscious, but rendered otherwise insensible, otherwise incapable of action. A humanoid machine shows at your back, bowing to its task with ceremonial formality. With a brisk sequence of flows, the machine removes a large board of bone from the backside of your cranium, before carefully laying its digits, fine and sensitive as a spiders legs, on the viscid surface of your psyche. You may be suffering some hesitations about the necessary procedures at this place. Set them aside, if you can.
Youre in pretty deep with this thing; theres no backing out now. With their high-resolution microscopic receptors, the machine fingers search the compound arrangement of your mentality, moving the data to a powerful computer on the other side of the operating table. They are dropping further into your cerebral is something else, these thumbs, searching deeper and deeper strata of neurons, improving a three-dimensional delineate of their endlessly complex interrelations, all the while composing system to model this activity in personal computers hardware. As thework follows, another mechanical appendage less fragile, little meticulous removes the scanned material to a biological litter container for later dumping. This is material you will no longer be needing.
At some point, you become aware that you are no longer present in your form. You observe with sadness, or fright, or detached interest the lessening convulsion of that organization on the operating table, the last ineffective agitations of a finished meat.
The animal life is over now. The machine life has begun.
This, more or less, is the scenario outlined by Hans Moravec, a prof of cognitive robotics at Carnegie Mellon, in his 1988 volume Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence . It is Moravecs conviction that the future of the human species will involve a mass-scale desertion of our biological torsoes, aftermath by procedures of this kind. Its a belief shared by many transhumanists, a crusade whose aim is to improve our bodies and thoughts to the quality where we become something other and more efficient than the swine we are. Ray Kurzweil, for one, is a foremost counsel of the relevant recommendations of mind-uploading. An emulation of the human rights intelligence guiding on an electronic arrangement, he writes in The Singularity Is Near , would move much faster than our biological brains. Although human psyches is beneficial for massive parallelism( on the order of 100 trillion interneuronal contacts, all potentially operating simultaneously ), the rest time of the link is extremely slow compared to contemporary electronics. The technologies required for such an emulation sufficiently potent and capacious computers and sufficiently advanced brainscanning proficiencies will be available, he announces, by the early 2030 s.
And this, obviously, is no tiny assert. We are talking about not only radically increased life spans, but also radically expanded cognitive abilities. We are talking about endless transcripts and iterations of the ego. Having undergone a procedure like this, you would exist to the extent you are able meaningfully be said to exist at all as an entity of unbounded possibilities.
I was introduced to Randal Koene at a Bay Area transhumanist conference. He wasnt speaking at the conference, but had come along out of personal interest. A cheerfully reserved soul in his early 40 s, he spoke in the punctilious staccato of a non-native English orator who had long mastered the language. As we parted, he sided me his business card and often afterward that evening Iremoved it from my wallet and had a proper look at it. The poster was illustrated with a picture of a laptop, on whose screen was displayed a stylised image of a psyche. Underneath was etched what appeared to me an attractively strange message: Carboncopies: Realistic Streets to Substrate Independent Minds. Randal A Koene, founder.
I took out my laptop and was just going the website of Carboncopies, which I learned was a nonprofit organisation with a goal of advancing the reverse engineering of neural material and terminated psyches, Whole Brain Emulation and developed at neuroprostheses that simulate functional responsibilities judgment, establishing which is something we bawl Substrate Independent Minds. This latter term, I read, was the objective to be able to sustain person-specific functions of memory and know-how in many different operational substrates besides the biological psyche. And this, I further learned, was a process analogous to that by which programme independent code can be compiled and run on many different estimating platforms.
It seemed that I had convened, without realising it, a person who was actively working toward the kind of brain-uploading scenario that Kurzweil had outlined in The Singularity Is Near . And this was a person I needed to get to know.