Is it possible to upload the brain to a computer?


People always wanted to break the shackles, to overcome the limitations of their bodies: pain, sickness, and death. A new movement to dress up this ancient impulse in new technological clothes. So-called transhumanism at its core holds to the idea that science will provide people with a futuristic way to leave his mortal physical form and to realize the dream of transcendence.

Perhaps one of the most interesting ideas of transhumanists is that consciousness can be transformed into digital data and “load” in an incredibly powerful computer. This will allow you to live in a world of unlimited virtual experience and become practically immortal (at least until someone will do your backups and you decide to disable).

However, transhumanists seem to ignore the fact that the downloading of consciousness has before itself insurmountable obstacles. Practical difficulties mean that in the near future this will not happen, but, in addition, at the heart of this idea are complex problems.

Idea download brain — a favorite subject of science fiction. Futurist and CTO at Google ray Kurzweil, for example, spent a lot of effort to make this idea popular — he believes that the download of consciousness will be available in 2045. Recently, the economist Robin Hanson has extensively studied the consequences of this scenario for society and the economy. He presented to the world in which the work fell on the shoulders of disembodied emulations of human consciousness, which work in a simulated virtual reality using computing equipment sized cities.

The fact that consciousness can be downloaded, in the neighborhood and thought that it was already loaded and we live in a computer simulation a La “the Matrix”. Recently technology entrepreneur Elon Musk has raised this discussion, expressing the idea that the chance that we are not living in a computer simulation, approximately one-to-billion”. Of course, the idea that this world is nothing more than an illusion, for hundreds of years.

Simple, at first glance, the idea is infinitely complex upon closer examination. Let’s start with the fact that our brains have trillions of connections between the 86 billion neurons (give or take). To reproduce in digital form all of these compounds is still unrealistic. At the current rate of development of computers and imaging systems in a few decades we will be able to do the trick only with a dead segment of the brain.

Even if we could create a “wiring diagram” of a living brain, this is not enough to understand how it works. For this we need to quantify how neurons interact with each other, and to do all this on a molecular level of precision. We don’t even know how molecules in the brain, not to mention how many of them vital. For a computer to reproduce all of these processes can be not under force.

And this leads us to a deeper complexity. Just because we can mimic some aspects of brain function, does not mean that we can completely emulate the human brain or consciousness. No meaningful increase in computing power will not allow us to simulate the brain at the level of individual molecules. Thus, emulation of the brain will be possible only if we can separate its digital logical operations from the dirty mess at the molecular level.

To understand the operation of a conventional computer, we don’t have to monitor the currents and voltages in each component, and especially do not need to understand what makes each electron. We have developed a switching operation of the transistors so that the logic of their work is at its core simple: ones and zeros. But the brain was not created by us — it has evolved — so there’s no reason to expect simple logic at the core of his work.

Even if the download of consciousness will remain a pipe dream, nothing prevents people to discuss the harmful consequences of this process. All people at some point begin to fear his own death, and who are we to tell people what they should do with their own fears?

How transhumanism is mixing religious ideas with science, distorts our understanding of the technology. Transhumanists see technology the way of the fulfillment of all our desires. And the justification is that they inevitably move humanity in a positive direction. Therefore, well-known futurists prefer not to refer to the ideas of transhumanism and to stay away from him. In the end, science rarely benefits from Alliance with religion.

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