Imagine a future in which your mind never dies. When your body begins to fail, a machine scans your brain in enough detail to capture its unique wiring. A computer system uses that data to simulate your brain. It won’t need to replicate every last detail. Like the phonograph, it will strip away the irrelevant physical structures, leaving only the essence of the patterns. And then there is a second you, with your memories, your emotions, your way of thinking and making decisions, translated onto computer hardware as easily as we copy a text file these days.
There are certain thinkers for which just about everything they say seems to resonate with me, whether because what they’re saying are simple truths, or because my biases are in sync with theirs. Michael Graziano is rapidly becoming one of these for me. This article mirrors my thoughts in this area to a large degree.
But I do envision one extra complication that Graziano omits. I can see many people electing to do what he describes: joining into group minds, losing their identities, particularly after they’ve removed the emotions that cause us to value self identity. Many people find this idea abhorrent. The Borg in Star Trek were one of the creepiest threats for a reason.
But I can also see a lot of people resisting that trend. Perhaps these people would be careful to instantiate themselves into their own hardware / body to minimize the chances of the group mind effect. On the other side, I could see group minds becoming a type of predator, trying to incorporate as many independent minds as possible to increase their strength. A potentially very scary future.
Of course, it’s possible group minds would be appeased with a copy of the individualist’s minds, with perhaps a one way syncing of memories to receive updates. Maybe. It would depend on how threatening the group mind saw the existence of those independent minds.
Speaking of data synchronization, in a future where we can have multiple copies of ourselves running around, memory synchronization might become a critical feature. It’s easy to imagine that copies which were isolated from the others might become too different, perhaps eventually wishing a divorce of sorts from the others.
Individuals could, in theory, become antagonists toward each other. A concept explored in science fiction.
The future of the human race could be stranger than we can possibly imagine.
- Book Report 2013 – What I’ve Read This Year (philosophyandpsychology.wordpress.com)
- Study: To The Human Brain, Me Is We (psychologytoday.com)
- Consciousness Is Just Your Brain Making a Model of Itself (motherboard.vice.com)
- How Consciousness Works (io9.com)
- A paper I wrote for an AI seminar at ASU in 1987 on neural modeling/connectionism/sub-symbolic computation. (carmstrong1959blog.wordpress.com)
- What is Consciousness? (dbert69.wordpress.com)