More About Mind Uploading

Here’s a brief follow up to yesterday’s post. While perusing the subreddit  cogsci  at, I noticed that there were a number of comments about my recent blogpost.

I read all of the comments and learned much from them. I wanted to comment briefly about a few issues that arose. Again thanks to all who read the post and commented on it.

To Cyberbyte & filterspam & Sockso –  Yes we should be careful as we don’t want to be tortured infinitely; and yes there are fates a LOT worse than death. The same issue comes up if considering cryonic preservation. Is it better to die and received a zero; or utilize technology and receive anything from heaven to hell? Wow, what a gamble! I suppose each will have to choose for themselves when such technologies are available. But faced with oblivion, I would probably gamble.

To egypturnash- We will need laws governing the procedure. Personally I think only one transfer should be allowed.

To Simulation Brain & reddell –  You captured my basic premise clearly and succinctly. When confronted with death most persons will copy their mind file to an AI and put it in a body or virtual reality. You will ignore philosophical issues about whether this copy is the real you.

To noggin-scratcher – Yes this will take some getting used to. And your comments about whether the uploading transition happens gradually or quickly is important.  I think you are especially insightful when you say: 

“… as I don’t believe in a soul or an essence or any other kind of magic “me” fluid that needs to be carefully poured between containers… doing a thing gradually ought to be equivalent to doing the same thing in a single step, since it results in the same physical arrangement at the final step. Smearing the transition out makes it difficult to pinpoint any single moment where you cease to be “Meat Me” and start to be “Android Me”, but I think that if replacing your brain with an identical synthetic substitute is problematic when done in one go, it should still be considered problematic when done piecemeal.”

I’d have to think about this more but off the top of my head I think I agree.

To Haydork & psiphre  – In the transporter you body is disassembled–annihilated if you will–and then you body is recreated. Is this a copy? Yes, and most people have no problem with this.  However, Larry Krauss,  in his book The Physics of Star Trek, said this almost certainly won’t work

To eudaimondaimon – I don’t think the ship of Theseus is a good analogy. The brain doesn’t have to be replaced piecemeal and the ships never were conscious. Think of it like this. You walk through a machine, your consciousness transferrs to a robotic body, your old body falls down dead emptied of its mind content, and “you” are alive in your new body. That’s not dying in a signficant sense, although its obviously not the same as living forever in your old body. And in principle it could work, as Kurzweil, Moravec, Kaku, Marshall Brain, and others suggest. 

To throweraccount – You see the possibility of living in a virtual reality. Remember the last line of the original Star Trek television pilot? The keeper says to Captain Kirk: “Captain Pike has an illusion, and you have reality. May you find your way as pleasant.” Let none of us forget how much better a virtual reality could be.

To andero – Another Star Trek fan. You worry about the copy not having the experience of dying. It wouldn’t have to have this experience if it doesn’t die but is transferred.

To Moarbrains –  You are right there may be better things to invest in, but I disagree that you can know beforehand if the attempt is useless. Who knows what we might become?

To filterspam – We do have reason to think that cryonics will work. If nanotechnology fulfills its promise, cryonics might very well work.

To vernes1978  – I like your idea that better to have some chance than no chance of immortality. And you are correct that some people will never be satisfied with their copy. I also think you make an excellent point about the richness of our experiences. They may be rich compared to non-human animal experience, but they may pale in comparison to the experiences of intelligent aliens or post humans.

To craigiest – If you can copy your mind file that will be good enough for most people. If it isn’t, you can still die and hope your soul is transferred to heaven.

To nukefudge –  You are correct, first we must overcome the technical problems and they are no doubt enormous.

Thanks again to all who contributed and from whom I learned so much. But keep the image in your mind. Assume you are old and want to live forever. You can die and hope or you can use technology and transfer or copy your mind file to another substrate. If you decide to do the latter, I doubt philosophical concerns about copies versus transfers will deter you.

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