We’re still decades — if not centuries — away from being able to transfer a mind to a supercomputer. It’s a fantastic future prospect that makes some people incredibly squeamish. But there are considerable benefits to living a digital life. Here’s why you should seriously consider uploading.
An interesting article at io9 relaying the orthodox singularity or transhumanism vision of the benefits of uploading our minds into a computer. As I posted the other day, this orthodox vision makes some assumptions that I think shouldn’t be accepted as given.
Among them are that we’d have all the processing power and capacity that we’d want, so that we could clone as many copies of ourselves as convenient and explore as many alternate universes as we’d like, all with processing speeds so that virtual months or years could pass in an objective day.
The article also mentions that fact that we could modify ourselves in any way we’d want, reducing or enhancing emotions, removing some, adding new ones, etc. It only tangentially mentions how radically different this might make our conceptions of self.
The top reader comments have the standard objection to this view. The uploaded version wouldn’t be you, but a copy of you. It has to be remembered that all of the atoms in our brain are constantly being replaced by metabolic maintenance processes. The you of today is not, physically, the you of a few years ago. The you of today is a copy (an altered one) of the you from years ago. What persists is the pattern, the information that makes up you.
Of course, the you of a few years ago is connected to the you of today by a perceived continuity of existence that wouldn’t exist between the organic you and the digital version. Would that be enough to stop you from uploading yourself?
What if you the two versions of you could exchange memories, perhaps via some sort of augmentation to the organic version? If the organic version could remember the experiences of the digital version, would that make the digital version seem more like us?
And, of course, if the organic you was near death, wouldn’t the prospect of a digital you surviving be of some comfort?