Logistics of Migration

From: Michael Roy Ames (michaelroyames@hotmail.com)
Date: Thu Jun 06 2002 - 22:51:04 MDT


I have been thinking about, worrying about actually, the process of
uploading, and how it will be handled by society, and particularly by
individuals. While I do not have the story-telling flare of some of the
other list members, I nevertheless wish to share with you some of my
concerns, and possible solutions.

To Move or to Copy? That is the question.
When deciding whether to upload there will be many things to consider. One
of the most difficult choices will be whether to Copy your mind to the new
substrate, leaving your human body still alive and fully operational, or to
Move your mind, killing your original body & brain.

After considering this 'binary' decision for a while, it occurred to me that
it doesn't have to be as clear-cut as I have heretofore imagined. There are
several possible partial combinations that an individual might want to
implement. For example:

You could start by creating a Copy of your mind, leaving you Original fully
operational, but keeping open a high-bandwidth communications channel
between your two mental instantiations. This would enable a wide variety of
points-of-view to be experienced by both mind parts. From the Copy's POV
there would be a ready-made, highly optimized set of sensory modalities
(SMs) available. From the Original's POV there would be a millionfold
speedup of complex thinking/searching/querying capabilities available. It
would provide an intimate communications mechanism between two mind parts,
something that could lead to novel insights and high creativity. Indeed, I
imagine that the two minds would not be separate and independent, like two
regular humans, but would be two aspects of the same mind with multiple
POVs. With the aid of MNT it might even be possible for the Copy+Original
combo to alter the programming of, not only the Copy, but also the Original.
Just how smart could a human brain get with a properly altered program? I'm
guessing *way* smarter than I am now :D

That Queasy Feeling
Many who consider the idea of uploading (including myself) are worried that
the uploaded environment won't be familiar enough, won't be rich enough (at
first), and will be disconnected from physical reality. By having an
Original and a Copy tightly joined, these issues are quite neatly addressed.
The Original would have access to the new SMs via the Copy, and the Copy
would have access to the standard human SMs via the Original. If the
cyber-reality got too crazy, ve could temporarily retreat to the familiar
world of the Original. If the physical reality of the Original got too
boring (or painful :/) then ve could step out into the cyber-reality of the
Copy. This arrangement might also relieve the fear of death from the
Original. If ve could migrate ver POV to the cyber-reality of the Copy by
an act of will at any time... then death would merely be the loss of the
Original physical human body... a body that could (very likely) be
reconstructed from scratch if desired. I know that I would personally feel
more comfortable with the idea that I could migrate back and forth between
Original and Copy 'on demand' - at least at first - when both the new
cyber-environments and the original worlds are likely to be in intense flux.

The Borg Thing
The above Copy+Original idea may appear to be quite like the Star-Trek-Borg
(STB) at first glance, but there are certain important differences to note.
Firstly, the STB was a collective whereas Copy+Original is an individual.
Secondly, the televised STB was made overtly mechanical and visually
revolting for theatrical effect. There is no reason why an Original+Copy
combination shouldn't look just like an unenhanced Original.

Relevance to SL4?
If the above discussion isn't SL4-shocking enough for you, then consider my
POV. I am contemplating the coding of, then the education of Seed AI. And
I want to be 100% certain that it shares my concerns for my future... and as
a huge beneficial 'side-effect' :) everyone else's concerns for their own
futures as well. To 99.999...% of people on this planet: uploading is going
to appear 'soil-your-pants' scary. I want to do everything in my power to
make it appear less scary, without violating the volition of anyone. One
way to do this is to provide half-way options, reversible options. A
scenario I like is for the SuperIntelligence (having matured to a high level
of capability) to manufacture a 'Starter Package' for the Copy+Original
option and make it look just like a bicycle helmet. We could sell them, or
give them away... whichever turns out to be least socially disruptive.
People could try-out being an 'upload' for a while... if they liked it, then
they could make it permanent, at any time, by an act of will, while wearing
the helmet.

Why am I even discussing this at such an early stage? Well.. when SI is
created, I think it will change the world (relatively) fast... so thinking
the logistics through ahead of time will help us avoid making errors that
might cause pain to the many (billions!) who won't be expecting the coming
opportunities. I want uploading to be a voluntary, peaceful and orderly
migration... NOT a cataclysm.

Michael Roy Ames
Ottawa, Canada

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