Mind Uploading by Aiswaria


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									         MIND UPLOADING                      It was realized by a few scientists that
                                             with the technology available today and
Man has progressed by leaps and bounds       with the imminent progress expected in
in the field of technology these last few    this field, it is not wholly impossible to
decades, so much so that conjectures that    realize mind transfer. Tasks like
were laughed at in the past are being        learning, memorizing etc. which we are
realized now. Ideas that made science        capable of doing and consciousness
fiction novels interesting, but which        itself are due to purely physical and
were thought to be far fetched and           electrochemical processes that occur in
impossible to be implemented are now         the brain. Provided we understand these
considered to be within the bounds of        processes and the laws governing them,
technology.                                  we can perfectly emulate all the tasks the
                                             brain performs and thus, create a copy of
Isaac Asimov, a great thinker and writer     the brain.
of the 20th century has inspired many
scientists and engineers from around the     The uses and benefits of this technique
world through his novels. We still do        are truly astounding! Immortality will
not have the technology to implement         soon be possible, at least in a figurative
most of his mind-boggling ideas. Mind        sense. A copy of our mind can be made
Uploading is one of his awe-inspiring        to run on a computer even after our
inventions. It was introduced in his         physical death. This simulated mind can
short story, ‘The Last Question’, in         be made to run in a robot or a humanoid
1956. After about half a century, it was     too. Even though we may lose our
finally put to test.                         biological body we can continue to live
                                             on in a mechanical or biomechanical
What is mind uploading?              This    body with all our thoughts, memories
technique, also called as Brain              and our consciousness intact. Imagine if
Emulation, Mind Transfer or Electronic       the mind of a genius like Albert Einstein
Transcendence, scans and maps a brain        had been uploaded. All the conundrums
and copies it into a computer system or      that baffle even the most accomplished
any other computational device. Thus,        scientists today might have been solved!
we create a copy of the original mind – a
simulated mind so similar to the original,   Another application of this technique is
that it is almost indistinguishable. Such    multiple or parallel existence.         By
a simulated mind could either be run         creating multiple copies of a person’s
remotely on a system or it could be          mind, we can have a small scale multi-
attached to a working body, either           verse of our own. This means that
biological or mechanical.                    theoretically, we can create parallel
The emulation of something as complex        universes - that too in a lab. Each
as a human brain may be considered by        universe is a computer system running a
skeptics as wishful thinking. But the        copy of a person’s mind. Thus, each of
fact is that mind uploading has already      these simulated minds may be tricked
passed the preliminary stages of             into believing that it is unique and exists
implementation with satisfactory results.    singly, but in fact there may be a
                                             hundred copies of this mind running
                                             alongside, each unaware of the others.
This can be used to find out in how           multiple instances of a person’s mind
many different ways a person might            running at the same time. Legally too,
react when subjected to the same stimuli.     there may some impediments. All the
                                              simulated minds can be considered as
It is also possible to create a simulated     living persons, though they might not
universe with each simulated mind made        have a physical body to control. It then
to believe that it physically exists in a     becomes legally binding to make sure
real world, when actually it does not.        that none of these minds are subjected to
The sims may be made to run at a slow /       human right violations.
fast rate. Thus, it is possible to have
older and younger sims and these can be       The ongoing research of this technique is
made to interact with each other. We          heartening to see. The Blue Brain
may also pause, rerun, rewind these sims      Project was started in May 2005 by IBM
or put them in a loop without their           in collaboration with the Swiss Federal
knowledge.       It gives a person the        Institute of Technology in Lausanne.
opportunity to play God by controlling        The aim of this project was to create a
the ‘lives’ of each of these sims.            computer simulation of a mammalian
                                              cortical column down to the molecular
There are many issues that might impede       level and to emulate the electrical
the development of this technique. First      behaviour of neurons. IBM’s Blue Gene
and foremost are the computational            supercomputer was used for this project.
issues. The amount of storage and             At the end of the project in 2007, an
computational power required is difficult     artificial neural network, almost half as
to predict. There are 100 billion neurons     complex as a mouse brain was
or nerve cells in our brain each with a       simulated. A simulation time of 1 second
complex structure. Each neuron signals        took 10 seconds of computer time. The
the other through extensions called           results, though not very accurate were
dendrites.     On     the    release    of    quite satisfactory. It was seen that
neurotransmitters in the brain, the           biologically consistent nerve impulses
signals in the form of electrical impulses    flowed through the virtual cortex. This
are passed between the synapses of two        project helped in understanding human
neurons. In order for the simulated mind      cognition and psychological conditions
to work like the original, such a complex     like autism.
structure must also be emulated in the
computer. For this we need faster super       With breakthroughs in science, mind
computers, virtual reality and brain-         uploading will soon be perfected and
computer interfaces. With the advent of       shall no longer remain in the realm of
quantum computers, this will soon be          fiction. It has the potential to
possible. But quantum computing is still      revolutionize technology and change the
in its R&D stage.                             way we look at life.

We need to consider moral and ethical
issues as well. Many people might rebel
against the idea saying it is not our place
to meddle with God’s creation. Others
may not be comfortable with having

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