Mind Uploading - A door To Digital Immortality??

Have you ever caught yourself wishing for the gift of immortality? Do you harbour a secret desire to clone yourself to exist at two different places simultaneously? Do you wish to have a super brain working at a speed a thousand times faster than your own?
 

Edward Cullen and doctors who have familiarized us with such
concepts.....but most, if not all of us have given up such fantasies as an
impossibility.

Christof Koch, Giulio Tononi, Jeff Hawkins, Marvin Minsky – some of the
most cognitive neuro and computer scientists of today - beg to differ. Considering the recent advancements made in the fields of Brain
Emulating and Mind Uploading, digital immortality is just a step away
from becoming a reality.

So, what exactly is mind uploading and how does it help us attain immortality?

Simply stated, mind uploading is the process of literally uploading your
mind into a computer like device! It involves complex procedures like
scanning and mapping of a protein-based brain and copying its state into
a simulation device which is designed to mimic the biological brain in
such a way, that they are all - but identical. This device not only hosts
the brain patterns but is also capable of storing memories and
thoughts, and incredibly - a consciousness! Neuroscientists have
recently discovered that the most important functions of our mind - such
as learning, memory, and consciousness, are due to purely physical and
electrochemical processes in the brain and are governed by applicable
laws. The IEEE spectrum records the words of Christof Koch and Giulio
Tononi as-

"Consciousness is part of the natural world. It depends, we believe,
only on mathematics and logic and on the imperfectly known laws of
physics, chemistry, and biology; it does not arise from some magical or
otherworldly quality.”

Keeping this mechanistic view of the mind, one can safely say that a
time will come when mankind will have sufficiently advanced in
technology to create a device which houses a human mind complete with
memories, thoughts, learning capabilities and even a consciousness.

Sounds like something out of a sci-fi novel right? Yet, Ray Kurzweil,
the winner of the National Medal of Technology 1991 and one of the
distinguished inventors of our age, predicts the hypothetical theory of
mind uploading being put to practical usage by the 2030’s.

His much respected opinion however, holds little value against the might
of the God fearing masses who firmly believe that immortality (in any
form) is against God’s will. One can, however argue against these
‘sanctimonious religious preachers’ that the anti aging creams they
lather on their faces every day, as well as the medical help they
willingly accept from doctors to keep them healthy are similar
revolutions against God’s will albeit in a much more subtle manner. Mind
uploading is a bold and effective method to overcome the limitations of
mortality...unlike the above mentioned methods which only help to slow
down the inevitable end that looms over every living organism’s life.

So, is mind uploading all about immortality? Are all the people rooting
for mind uploading just various forms of Lord Voldemort, craving for
victory over death?

An illustration of this is given by AI member Marvin Minsky, a pioneer
of artificial neural networks and co-founder of the AI lab at MIT. He
explains why humanity would want this. "Ordinary citizens wouldn't know
what to do with eternal life. The masses don't have any clear-cut goals
or purpose. But scientists, who work on problems that might take decades
to solve, would appreciate the extended lifespans “, he says. Indeed!
His words do have a ring of the truth to them- Albert Einstein advanced
his Theory of Relativity at the tender age of 26. Imagine what he would
have been capable of, today at the age of 132...

Apart from an eternal life, mind uploading also offers humanity super
human abilities like precocious intelligence and multiple existences. An
‘uploaded mind’ has the power of a computer to boost its speed and
hence works at speeds more than a thousand times faster than its protein
counterpart. It has been calculated by some that an ‘uploaded brain’
needs 31 seconds to process thoughts that take a year by a protein based
brain!!



Other, less obvious but equally important benefits of mind uploading
include-economic growth (advancement in technology is tantamount to
advancement in economy), environment consciousness (newer technology to
overcome environment issues), more socially aware (as computer brains we
are prone to much more open conversations as opposed to mere small talk
and facial expressions). All in all mind uploading creates a win-win
situation for everyone

Yet, statistics have shown that not everyone seems to be sharing this optimistic outlook regarding mind uploading...

Scared by the all too familiar movies that depict the end of human
civilization by the introduction of superior AI robots, people are of
the opinion that mind uploading is an extreme step not to be taken
lightly. Many consider it to be a recipe for disaster saying that living
in the confines of an electronic box will only lead to depression,
anger and boredom. Besides which, as a computing program won’t our mind
be vulnerable to viruses and other hacks? And many others of a more
philosophical background feel that everything that begins should have an
ending...even life. That is the only way to balance out the forces of
nature....

So what will it be 50 years from now? The ideal world envisioned by
today’s scientists? Or a lifeless, listless planet overrun by maniacal
robots? One can never be sure...There are always two sides to a coin and
only time will tell which side of mind uploading will mankind get to
see. Until then we can only wait..

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