Hitchhiking the Milky Way: Will We Upload the Human Mind to Explore the Universe?

MilkyWayRoad_landolfi Athena Andreadis wrote an article on why the human mind can't be uploaded, explaining how any ghosts in the machine would just be copies. But we ask the more important question: is that a problem? 

Human consciousness is irrevocably integrated in our organic components. People have always thought of themselves according to the leading technological systems of the day, and with us that's computers – but the mind isn't a program that can be copied out onto upgraded hardware. It's an emergent effect of a hundred billion neurons, uncountable connections, a bath of chemicals and all sorts of input from our body. Besides, the very word "copy" shows that even if you could do it, you wouldn't benefit – since the copy can exist at the same time, it has to be someone else. This is usually where discussions of uploading end, but who cares if it isn't us?

Instead of a self-centered desire for immortality, what if we use ourselves for the ultimate in programming? Instead of going to all the bother of building an entire artificial mind from scratch we can use some of six billion floating around already. If we could map the mind, even approximately, the software analogue would be a complete artificial consciousness. And assuming we could avoid the automatic "All AIs go insane and try to kill us" factor, it could be useful for all the same reasons we want uploading.

Off world exploration is the primary fantasy for silicon souls – storing ourselves in significantly stronger shells for the dangerous trip off world. Copies could do that. Why not? All of human history has been driven by people building a better world for their offspring, and who says you have to start with people squirting goo into each other? Couldn't a computerized copy be your inheritor?

An uploaded alternate you would start differentiating immediately as they have different experiences – in fact, because of the alien nature and enhanced speed of a computer system they'd vary very quickly indeed. Alternate-you AIs would also be useful in all kinds of problem solving, inspire incredibly complicated civil rights issue, and at least they'd start out on our side should the man vs machine shit hit the fan. So if you're saying uploading doesn't help you, stop being so selfish.

Luke McKinney via HPlus Magazine


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