Re: physics of uploading minds.

From: ben (
Date: Sun Oct 30 2005 - 03:18:35 MST

'Flash' uploading, involving scanning the brain and copying the data to
a computer, and Moravec transfer, involving replacing individual neurons
with functional equivalents, are not the only possibilities.

These discussions seem to assume that there must be immediate, or at
least very rapid *replacement* of the biological brain or it's parts.
I'd like to suggest a variation of this that seems more acceptable to me.

The kind of uploading that i'd personally consider to be consistent with
continuity of consciousness and identity is not exactly a transfer at
all, more an expansion. That is, incrementally adding artificial parts
to the brain, thus increasing the capabilities of the mind, until the
biological brain is a small, pretty insignificant part of the whole. By
that time, the individual's identity would be mostly resident in the
artificial part, and the death of the original brain wouldn't make a
great deal of difference.
There would ideally be a significant time lag between the beginning and
end of the process. At least some weeks, perhaps even years.
This process is also consistent with the way our current brains evolved
(AFAWK), with the duplication of existing modules followed by

Of course, this scenario makes certain assumptions about the nature of
consciousness/identity, but it seems the most likely practical path to
uploading, and following it will guarantee that we learn what we need to
about which parts of the brain are important for consciousness and
identity. If it turns out, as many suspect, that these things are
distributed over large parts of the brain, the above method will easily
work. If not, and some specific modules are involved, the strategy would
be applied at a smaller scale, expanding/duplicating those modules,
until the greater part of the person's mind was running in the
artificial part.

If the 'expanded' mind still finds that it's not conscious when the
biological part sleeps or is temporarily inactivated, but the rest is
active as normal, then we'll know we're on the wrong path. If the mind
is still conscious while the bio-brain sleeps, we'll know that it's well
on the road to being a full upload of the original conscious mind into a

Probably one of the biggest difficulties with this idea would be working
out how to get such a hybrid biological/artificial system to work
smoothly, without traumatising the original biology.

But at least i would be happy that the end result would still be me. A
new me, granted, with a 'bigger' mind, but still me.


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