Mind uploading presents a fascinating concept of transferring human consciousness into a synthetic form – a key principle of transhumanism, which seeks to transcend the human condition using science and technology. This holds promises of longevity and cognitive enhancement, opening up a myriad of possibilities.
Mind Uploading: The Feasibility
The feasibility of mind uploading depends on the satisfaction of three key assumptions: the technology assumption, the artificial mind assumption, and the survival assumption. Each carries its own set of challenges and considerations.
The Technology Assumption
The technology assumption involves the potential to develop mind uploading technology in the future. This represents a significant challenge due to the intricate nature of the human brain, which boasts an estimated one million billion neural connections. Current research is aimed at creating 3D wiring diagrams, or connectomes, of simple organisms' brains.
- Progress is being made from mapping the brain of a fruit fly larva, working towards mapping a mouse brain – projected to occur within the next decade. But the leap from there is significant as the human brain is approximately 1000 times more complex.
- However, much like the advancements in the Human Genome Project, the technology for mind uploading could potentially be within grasp in a few generations.
The Artificial Mind Assumption
Then comes the artificial mind assumption – the belief that a simulated brain can give rise to a true mind. Most philosophers concur that the mind is physical and fundamentally linked to the brain. Meanwhile, cognitive scientists argue that it's the neural structure, not biological matter, that forms consciousness.
- Thus, a computer simulation mimicking the brain's structure could potentially mirror consciousness.
- Existing AI systems, modelled on artificial neural networks, offer some support for this approach.
The Survival Assumption
The survival assumption poses the question: Will the resulting entity truly be “you”? A philosophical debate underlies this assumption, pondering whether continuity of individuality is rooted in biology or mental life. This distinction has profound implications for mind uploading. If identity is biologically determined, then mind uploading is not feasible. But if identity is mental, then uploading could be an extension of existence.
A possible scenario postulates that the original “biological-you” and the “uploaded-you” could coexist after uploading. Logic dictates that only one can truly be “you”, with the biological form being the more likely candidate. This raises intriguing questions: Would the destruction of the biological form render the uploaded form as the real “you”?
Empirical Testing and Future Considerations
Empirical testing of the artificial mind and survival assumptions is currently not possible, as it would necessitate actual mind uploading. Given the current state of technology, mind uploading would require a leap of faith. It is likely to only be considered a viable option if the biological form was failing. Thus, while the concept holds intriguing possibilities, the road to mind uploading is fraught with challenges and unknowns, pointing towards a future where the line between biological and synthetic could blur.