The 7.3 Billion Year Race Through the Milky Way! A Dead-heat Finish
Sixty-Billion Stars: SuperComputing the Universe

Can the Human Mind Be Uploaded for Space Exploration?


The idea of uploading out of these meatsacks has always appealed to certain people, and you can tell an awful lot about them by their use of the phrase "meatsacks."  Athena Andreadis recently wrote an article on why we can't be uploaded, explaining how any ghosts in the machine would just be copies.  But we ask the more important question: is that a problem?

Human consciousness is irrevocably integrated in our organic components.  People have always thought of themselves according to the leading technological systems of the day, and with us that's computers - but the mind isn't a program that can be copied out onto upgraded hardware.  It's an emergent effect of a hundred billion neurons, uncountable connections, a bath of chemicals and all sorts of input from our body.  Besides, the very word "copy" shows that even if you could do it, you wouldn't benefit - since the copy can exist at the same time, it has to be someone else.

This is usually where discussions of uploading end, but who cares if it isn't us?  Instead of a self-centered desire for immortality, what if we use ourselves for the ultimate in programming?  Instead of going to all the bother of building an entire artificial mind from scratch we can use some of six billion floating around already.  If we could map the mind, even approximately, the software analogue would be a complete artificial consciousness.  And assuming we could avoid the automatic "All AIs go insane and try to kill us" factor, it could be useful for all the same reasons we want uploading.

Off world exploration is the primary fantasy for silicon souls - storing ourselves in significantly stronger shells for the dangerous trip off world.  Copies could do that.  Why not?  All of human history has been driven by people building a better world for their offspring, and who says you have to start with people squirting goo into each other?  Couldn't a computerized copy be your inheritor?  An uploaded alternate you would start differentiating immediately as they have different experiences - in fact, because of the alien nature and enhanced speed of a computer system they'd vary very quickly indeed. 

Alternate-you AIs would also be useful in all kinds of problem solving, inspire incredibly complicated civil rights issue, and at least they'd start out on our side should the man vs machine shit hit the fan.  So if you're saying uploading doesn't help you, stop being so selfish.

Luke McKinney

Athena's article at HPlus Magazine


Well now you have gone and done it.

You have touched upon aspects of the direction of evolution, from organic to machine, in the context of space travel.

I can't tell exactly whether you have sidestepped the duality debate or simply ignored it, but for sure this is a fine article on a challenging subject.

Majorly interesting, and raised a myriad of fun points to think about. Thanks for the brain boost.

-Transmitted from a Meatsack in the north, central USA

Negative, I am a meat popsicle

Can all the things that make us truly human exist as a glorified interactive computer file ? It seems to me that an AI like that would be a surrogate, it would possibly do a passably good imitation of you, even having " your " memories & persona, & it could be updated, possibly via an upload implant in your brain, but for all that, it would still be a high - tech proxy. When the real " you " died, the proxy wouldn't be able to take your place, ESPECIALLY PHYSICALLY.

I'm not even going to touch the swampy philosophical / metaphysical ideas about whether an A.I. / A.I. surrogate could be a soul OR have a soul.

"...and who says you have to start with people squirting goo into each other?"

Quote of the month, hahaha.

Oh, and you might want to think they wouldn't go insane or would be on our side initially if the Robot Wars broke out, but you have already brought up a counterpoint in your article.

The fact that they'd be instantly different from us due to the immediate differences in scope of experiences and perception of reality would ultimately alter their paradigm and how they view humans...and whether or not we're worthy of performing our discovery and research for us.

Unlike leaves from a tree, a copy of a brain-mind-consciousness, would, apparently, also be something unique; which should prove that a person (I) is NOT the expression of a 100 or more billion of neurons(etc.etc.). Well, partially, OK? Also, existing in a specially created environment, this new "person?" couldn´t be expected to think or act as a human being... Not before having been duly "understood". Very interesting, that.
Anything having to do with the brain, (a sub universe) appears to end up in the area of Quantum Mechanics, PHILOSOPHY? and a whole lot of unanswered questions.
One approach, is to learn to use the brain as a tool. It fills one´s life and gives one motivation enough for three lifetimes.

Einstein, as well as many other highly intelligent persons, always refer to the brain as "my brain". If this huge artifact,as currently described in the Web; "The brain has about 100 billion nerve cells, so at least that many bits (about 10 gigabytes) could be stored, assuming the brain uses binary logic. But it probably doesn’t do so. Instead, information is believed to be stored in the many connections that form between the cells. This is a much larger number: Current estimates of brain capacity range from 1 to 1000 terabytes! It would take 1,000 to 10,000 typical disk drives to store that much information." has such capacity and consciousness, it would express itself as "I"; so who is it that communicates through this huge device. I feel that "my brain" is expressed by a quantic energy field. If there is somebody who can prove that it is not so, please state it.
I am a marketing-logistics man, with the privilege of working with a Yale Molecular Biologist (who also taught in Harvard), who lets me use our common imagination in order to find answers, while doing our best to keep financially alive.

The future of human space exploration looks bleak. After making great leaps 50 years ago, stagnation has taken over. No human has left Earth orbit in 37 years, and NASA's current unambitious goals look to be further delayed or scaled back.

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