Monday, May 23, 2005

Brain Uploads

Now this is the sort of story that I like to here- according to Ian Pearson, the UK's leading "futurologist" computer power is increasing at such a rate that by 2050 it will be possible to "upload" a human brain into a computer.

Sounds crazy? Maybe, but this could be the start of an immortal age for mankind, though it will be evolution guided not by nature but by technology. The implications are pretty wild- if you did decide to become uploaded (and for the sake of argument we'll say theat the process to scan your brain is destructive- that is, you cease to exist as "wetware" ) for a start you could create back-up "minds" so that if you were killed, a new you could be brought back online. Add in some sort of wireless connection to continually back up your experiences and your new "you" could have every memory right up to and including your death.

But that's just the start. With an uploaded mind there is also the opportunity to have an inorganic body- a robot if you will. Need to do two or three things at once- do a back-up, put it in a spare robot body and send it off. When the tasks are completed simply download all the copies' memories/experiences back into the master.

Or how about becoming "fast"- an uploaded mind will be able to run as fast as the fastest computer hardware, it's not going to be limited by the speed of a human brain, so it's conceivable that an uploaded mind could run two, three or ten times faster than a "normal". It would make it virtually impossible for the two to interact- by the time the normal finishes a sentence, the upload has done the Times crossword, updated his daily blog and read half a book- but it means too that the speed of development will increase too. This will not happen in isolation either, so scientists and doctors doing reasearch will probably have access to virtual labs. The time taken to develop, say, a vaccine, could be halved. What it might taken one person, eating, sleeping, attending meetings, just plain living, a year to do, it could take a fast upload mere days.

It's an awesome possibility. The future just might be more fantastical than you can imagine.

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