Jesse Mazer wrote:

[quoting Stathis, responding to a post by George Levy]
The "high standard" I have described does not go nearly as far as copying the exact quantum state of every atom. It is merely aknowledging the fact that information in brains is not stored in the anatomical arrangement of neurons, any more than data on a computer is stored in the computer's circuit diagram.


If you scan the anatomical arrangement of synapses *and* the concentration of all the relevant proteins at the synapses, you probably would have enough to run a simulation that would act like a continuation of the original person. The upload might find he'd lost his short-term memories of what happened immediately before he died and his brain was frozen (just as we often do when we regain consciousness after being suddenly knocked unconscious by an accident), but as I understand it long-term memories are stored in terms of the pattern of synaptic connections and the neurotransmitters at each synapse, and as long as the simulated neurons behave closely enough to how the original neurons behaved, shouldn't the upload behave like the original person in terms of personality, thought processes, emotions, preferences and so forth?

I have no problem with the idea that everything about a person's personality, memories etc. is physically encoded in his brain, and that in principle, sufficiently detailed knowledge about his brain should allow an emulation on a computer which would be just like the original person. The problems are:

(1) what is the level of detail of neuronal information required;
(2) can this requisite information be preserved in a post-mortem specimen;
(3) can the information be scanned or read in a way that can be used in a computer model; (4) can each subsystem of neuronal function relevant to cognition be modelled closely enough to allow emulation; (5) given adequate information and adequate models, is the computer power available up to the task of emulation in anything like real time?

I believe the level of detail required and the complexity of the required models is grossly underestimated. Simply getting a 3D image of a brain down to electron microscopic detail, including all the synaptic connections, would be an enormous task, and it probabaly wouldn't tell us any more about the mind of the brain's owner than a picture of the books on a library shelf would tell us about the book contents. I would bet more on mediaeval monks decoding the data on a DVD sent back in time than I would bet on scientists decoding the contents of a human mind from cryopreserved brain sections.

If mind uploads were to become a reality, I think the best strategy would be research into brain-computer interfacing.

--Stathis Papaioannou

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