Will the New '100 Percent Fatal' Mind-Uploading Service Work?

Do you want to be in control group or the experimental group?



Nectome, a new startup, declares that it is "comitted to the goal of archiving your mind." How? By vitrifying your brain so as to preserve the structure of all of your synapses. That way, the thinking goes, the connections in your stored brain can one day be digitized and uploaded into a computer, perhaps a century hence.

The processs of "archiving" involves flooding your brain with the chemical fixative glutaraldehyde to rapidly solidify synapses and prevent decay, then storing it in liquid nitrogen. Since vitrification is, as the company says, "100 percent fatal," the process would ideally take place just as a client is succumbing to a fatal illness. To upload your mind, your brain would have to be destroyed.

Will it work? Lots of neuroscientists doubt it. Over at LiveScience, Sam Gershman, a computational neuroscientist at Harvard, points out that while the "connectome is without a doubt necessary for memory," there's lots more going on in our brains that's probably crucial to constructing our memories. For example, "You need to know the synaptic strengths, if they're excitatory/inhibitory, various time constants, what neuromodulators are present, the dynamical state of dendritic spines. And that's all assuming that memories are even stored at synapses!"

And of course, there is the philosophical question of whether or not a computer simulation of your brain would really be you.

The current alternative of regular cryonics involves freezing and preserving bodies and brains in liquid nitrogen with the hope that advances in nanotechnology will enable the repair of the damage caused by death and freezing, allowing patients to "wake up" restored to health in their own bodies.

Is this ethical? Since clients will be volunteers using their own resources, yes. Most people who decide to avail themselves of these experimental services recognize that they are extremely long shots that are likely going to end up being expensive versions of mummifcation. On the other hand, we already know what happens to the control group.

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  1. A simulation of your mind that could theoretically exist with the original still running would not be you. It would just be a copy that thinks its you.

    This just a high tech version of the Heaven’s Gate cult.

    1. All the cells in your body are replacements for older ones. Are you still you? What makes you you?

      1. And how do we know that this hasn’t happened to all of us already?

        1. +1 Permutation City

        2. Then we must confront the fact that our alien programmers are at least partly assholes.

          1. Tony, we are all at least partly assholes.

          2. Our brains are NOT the sum total of just our synapses and neurons!!! Even if you add the glia cells too, we STILL have not captured it all!!!

            But perhaps our brains are based on quantum computers. Each neuron is NOT a “logic gate” (an “and” gate, an “or” gate, or an inverter), as in human-designed computers? Each neuron (200 billion or so per each human brain!) is its own local micro-processor, running as a quantum micro-computer! See “Discovery of Quantum Vibrations in ‘Microtubules’ Inside Brain Neurons Supports Controversial Theory of Consciousness”, in…..085105.htm .
            Please see the March 2018 “Discover” science magazine, page 41, “Down the Quantum Rabbit Hole”, by Steve Volk, concerning Stuart Hameroff (primarily), and other researchers (including Roger Penrose). “Discover” will often post copies of their articles on the internet, but probably only a long time-lapse after the hardcopy is published (to encourage readers to buy the hardcopy, of course). So I cannot (yet?) provide you with a link to this.

            1. Some of the things that stuck in my mind the most, from having read this article, is that “microtubules” are just about everywhere, in living cells, and may be the REAL basis of our brains (and “souls”, whatever “souls” may be). Synapses and travelling patterns of cell-wall depolarization are NOT the be-all and end-all? As we can see by looking at parameciums and other single-celled animals! They HAVE no synapses or travelling patterns of cell-wall depolarization, yet they “think” enough to chase food and avoid predators, noxious chemicals, and too much heat or cold, travelling deliberately and with purpose! They DO have microtubules, though!
              So microtubules may be a BIG part of our “seat of consciousness”?

              1. Sounds like someone is trying to prove the existence of a soul. There is nothing quantum mechanical about consciousness. Consciousness is a functional phenomenon. It is simply a system having a real-time model of itself and able to manipulate that model.

                1. “There is nothing quantum mechanical about consciousness. ”

                  Read the link in part #1 in my long babblings above, and you’ll see that we cannot claim to have open minds, realistically, and assert what you have so flatly asserted. We (they) can’t be sure yet, but the evidence is starting to point towards quantum mechanics. At the VERY least, it is pointing towards, our brains (and those of animals) are WAY-WAY more complex than many of us have been thinking!

                  Souls? Maybe we’d better leave “souls” as shorthand for, “things we do not yet understand about brains and consciousness”. That can pull the religious folks into the discussion, too… Which may or may not be a good idea, but I think it is a good idea, generally!

                  1. Well, let me amend that…

                    Pulling the religious folks into the discussion is a good idea when we are talking about the ones that “hear God talking to them”, and God is telling them, “Love your neighbors”.

                    The ones who “hear God talking to them”, and God is telling them, “Go ye and smite the unbelievers?”. I would just as soon leave those folks OUT of the discussion!

                  2. I am open to the idea that the microtubules inside neurons transmit information. But this does not invalidate my point of consciousness being functional. It would just mean the underlying encoding is different and more complicated. Even if you extend it into quantum mechanics with qubit states, ultimately, those qubits have to exchange information. So you still end up with a mathematical graph in the end, albeit a very very huge one.

                    1. But this does not invalidate my point of consciousness being functional.

                      But that “functional consciousness” is simply another passive element of the system. You’re simply relocating “consciousness” from the “model of itself” to “itself.” None of it needs “consciousness” in the sense of “locus of awareness.”

      2. Those are good questions that no one knows the answer to.

        1. But we can wish.

      3. There is a continuity of consciousness in that. Of course, brain cells are not replaced like skin cells are.

        Uploading your mind into a computer just makes a copy, it does not transfer your consciousness. There is a gap in continuity. Whether this process is done or not, the entity that was you still dies.

        1. I’m more interested in the idea that brain and body are inseparable even with respect to consciousness. What’s happening in your gut has a lot to do with how you feel, etc. We may need a whole lot more 1s and 0s than we think to store a consciousness.

        2. There’s a gap in continuity every time you sleep.

          1. Is there? Your brain changes state, but is that a “gap?”

            1. If we count this time of unconcsiousness a gap, then yes, sleep is totally a gap in conciousness.

              1. There will also be a gap between last night’s Wildcats’ loss and the next time coach Miller’s squad plays for real, brah.

                1. It’s been a pretty fucked up season. Miller’s legal drama is annoying, but he’s also been slowly riding the program down, down, down. We need to preserve Lute Olson’s brain so he can coach us forever.

                  1. This morning I thought of you while listening to Teddy Brushci appearing on Golic & Wingo. Both Wingo and Chris Canty, filling in for Golic, gave Teddy a hard time about last night’s loss and all the Patriot defections.

              2. Circular reasoning.

          2. Perhaps, but we, individually, cannot tell. If that is true, there is nothing to be done for it, anyway.

            It still does not change what these people are selling is snake oil, unless the volunteers understand that while a copy of them may exist in the future, but their existence ends when they submit to the process.

          3. Not only that, BUCS. There are gaps throughout the day. And I am not just talking about someone like Simple Mikey, who, BTW, will get a nice discount from Nectome. Consciousness is intermittent, like a flickering light. Your brain just fills in the gaps to give the illusion of continuity. Ever spaced out while driving? That’s just one example.

            1. Of what does the “space out” consist?

              1. Subconscious processes.

                1. Aren’t we constantly experiencing subconscious processes?

                  1. Of course. Subconscious processes are continuously going on and it is the majority of what the brain does.

        3. When Captain Kirk goes into the transporter, who comes out, Captain Kirk or Captain Copykirk? If it’s Captain Copykirk and it doesn’t know the difference, does it matter?

          1. Pretty sure that it’s Copykirk, but no it doesn’t realize the difference so ultimately it doesn’t really matter. The consciousness that was the previous Kirk, though, died and never woke up again as it was disintegrated and stored as raw material for some other copyperson to use.

            This is, of course, why the head doctor on board the ship didn’t trust them. Because he knew he was killing himself every time he used it. Some people just have less of a problem with that, apparently, because you never really notice the effect given that the only person who would notice was instantly vaporized during the process.

            Honestly, Star Trek is pretty fucking dark the longer you think about it.

            1. Transporters are definitely one of the more far fetched things on ST. But they really move the plot along.

              I would ask whether, assuming you don’t believe there is an immortal soul that keeps existing independently of your body when you die, the distinction has any meaning. If you are reconstituted with all of your memories and state of mind intact, why isn’t that you? One could argue that what constitutes an individual person is the state of mind and memories, not the particular bits of matter one is made of.

              I guess with the transporter, there is a moment where you cease to be. But they are made up technology probably about as likely to ever actually work as this brain freezing thing.

              1. All your life questions were answered in the episode “The Enemy Within” from the first season.

                1. That episodes is one reason why I suspect the ‘transporters’ are really just glorified replicators with a bit more range.

              2. Effectively, you’re killing yourself and erasing the memory of you dying so really it doesn’t ‘matter’ to you because you never remember the death. Morbid, but as you say ‘effective’ at moving people (and more importantly, plots) along. ^_-

                It would be ‘you’ as you were just before the moment of death, so it’s not really ‘meaningful’ beyond the apparent willingness of an entire society to routinely temporarily commit suicide in order to save themselves a relatively short trip by shuttle.

                1. Joseph Campbell once described bodies as being like antennae, focusing “awareness” on a particular set of sensory phenomena when “awareness” itself is pervasive in existence (cf my Aristotle reference above).

                  Star Trek raises that particular philosophical suggestion in an interestingly blase way. The idea that you can form a complex organic mechanism and that it would simply become “conscious” and believe that it was the same thing as a complex organic mechanism from somewhere else that has been annihilated presumes that “mind” is an inherent feature of existence, and that the individual is essentially an illusion created by the limiting fact of existing bodies.

          2. When Captain Kirk goes into the transporter, who comes out, Captain Kirk or Captain Copykirk? If it’s Captain Copykirk and it doesn’t know the difference, does it matter?

            They did cover that in a NextGen episode, when returning to a planet Will Riker had been to years earlier, they encounter Riker’s “transporter clone”.

        4. it does not transfer your consciousness.

          Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here.

          1. We really can’t even define ‘consciousness’. Its one of those ‘I know it when I see it things’.

          2. What if we replaced each neuron individually, over several years, with a machine that functioned identically? Would the end result still be you? What if we mapped each neurons functions, one by one, into a software simulation over multiple years, would the end result not still have continuity?

      4. Completely untrue. Some cells are replaced while others are not. Neurons generally fall into the latter category, although there is limited neurogenesis in adults.

        Why do you deny science, tony?

        1. This is true. Your identity is tied to your nervous system primarily, and neurons do not get replaced. But Tony’s larger point stands. You could replace someone’s neurons one by one with new neurons, and as long as the connections were preserved, he would be the same person, because what makes you you is the connectome, the organization of the brain.

          1. You’ve offered no evidence to suppprt yoir claim. We don’t really know just how nonvolatile the brain is and there’s that whole Heisenberg problem.

            1. There isn’t a Heisenberg problem because as far as is known right now, the brain doesn’t make any more use of quantum mechanical properties of matter than any other electrochemical reaction does.

              1. We don’t know where the information is stored with 100% certainty. Even if the entire network contains what “you” are, random fluctuations will disturb the state of the brain. There’s no evidence either way that there is sufficient macroscopic averaging to ensure that’s the case.

      5. This is George Washington’s ax. The handle’s been replaced 7 times, the blade 12 times, but this is George Washington’s ax.

        1. Well, the classic example given by Plutarch is the Ship of Theseus, which has its boards replaced one by one. Also see Aristotle’s Four Causes.

          1. See also Aristotle’s concept of the active or “agent” intellect.

          2. Or my car.

            Interesting thing, from a legal standpoint – the only part of my car that defines my car is the VIN. I can change everything else, keep those VIN plates, and its still the same car in the eyes of the law.

            1. But if you remove the VIN plate and put it on a different car, you have committed a crime (not arguing – just pointing out an ironic corollary).

    2. The you that thinks its you isn’t you either.

  2. Doctor Jekyll, Mr. Glutaraldehyde

    ” . . . the process would ideally take place just as a client is succumbing to a fatal illness.”

    Call me a sissy if you want, but I’d be leery of freezing all my synapses at the exact moment that they’re all firing while I’m having spasms, difficulty breathing, and in the throes of ungodly pain.

    1. Which is why if they really get this going, it will be suggested that relatively healthy people are the prime candidates.

    2. Your synapses all fire together during non-REM sleep.

    3. Doctor Jekyll, Mr. Glutaraldehyde. OK, I found this hilarious. congratulations!!!!

  3. You need to know the synaptic strengths, if they’re excitatory/inhibitory, various time constants, what neuromodulators are present

    Die a Drumpfenc?ck and wake up as a BernieBro.

  4. This is just Big Neuroscience trying to maintain their lock on the brain industry. Because if you can upload your mind into a computer, guess what. Neurosurgeons are out of a job.

  5. Most importantly, what is the backup system for the liquid nitrogen storage tanks? Given the recent failures with embryo storage, I’d want to be as sure as possible my brain would last for decades if I used this, ahem, “service.”

  6. A lot of stuff happens in your nervous system outside the brain. Being embodied is pretty key to how we think and emote and interact with the world. Even if you could reconstruct a mind from a forzen brain, I doubt it would be much like an actual embodied person.

    1. “Doc, being brought back to life is really great and all, but I used to be able to walk and stuff like that.”

      “Yeah, sorry about that. A lot of that stuff was programmed in your spinal column. Too bad they threw that away.”

      1. “Shoulda bought the Gold plan.”

    2. The continuity of consciousness is the issue. To think this will work you have to believe in almost a musical theory of the self. Plato talks about it in one of his dialogs; the Apology I think. He says that maybe the soul is like music and the body the strings that when plucked produce the sound that is your thoughts and self. So, if the computer produces the right plucks, there you are.

      That, however, is kind of a far out view of the self. The elephant in the room here is awareness. Our brain produces thoughts. But the thoughts themselves are not awareness. The thought can’t be aware of itself. There has to be something else that is aware of the thought or the thought happens and it has no effect. So reproducing the thoughts does not reproduce the awareness of the thought. The awareness is what we call consciousness. And no one understands that much less how to produce it.

      1. If the only way to distinguish between the copy and the original is to have historical knowledge of which is which, then for all intents and purposes the copy is you. It will evolve just as you would have evolved under identical circumstances. It will respond like you would respond under the same circumstances. The only uncontrollable variable would be quantum fluctuations.

        TL;DR: it walks and talks like a duck.

        1. The copy can have a perfect image of your mind and still be a separate existence, a separate entity from you.

          1. That assumes that what you call “me” is actually always the same, continuously existing entity and not just a strung together narrative to keep you from going insane.

          2. Presumably, a perfect image of your mind would at least contain the inklings, if not the outright memories, of going to the clone shop and signing off on all the paperwork. The copy, going forward, would/could never really be certain as to whether it truly was an original or, if it was a copy, that it was the only copy.

            I’m sure there are others, but David Brin wrote a book, Kiln People, where multiple ‘dittos’ or golems are used as a sort of ‘version control’ for the original archetype or ‘main branch’ of a human consciousness. Along these lines, I think the notion of personal duplication after death is *completely* retarded. If you can generate the majority of the patterns needed to play a decent game of 12th dimensional chess or pilot in a petri dish then it should be fairly easy to rapidly grow the similar structures within a functioning brain without killing it. It seems much more likely that we will intrinsically augment the human brain and consciousness well, well before fully duplicating it and decentralizing consciousness will be far more definitive and transformative than the (re)animation of dead tissue.

          3. Imagine this.

            I am asleep in one of a pair of rooms connected by a clear sheet of glass.

            The rooms are identical except for being mirrors of each other.

            While in one room I am copied, that copy is put into an identical body in the other room.

            How can we tell which is the copy when we wake up?

        2. It is a copy of you but it isn’t you. What do I care if a copy lives on if I don’t?

          1. So basically solipsism.

          2. Maybe you are the copy?

      2. To think this can work means that you believe in the existence of the soul and that the soul can be captured by technological means.

      3. *You* will never be uploaded any more than the ‘move’ command moves files on your computer. Its ‘cut-paste-delete’. You will be copied. And possibly the original will be deleted when the move is verified. But the latter isn’t necessarily a requirement and will probably be seen as wasteful.

        Why, for example, would you copy your mind to a body on Mars to do some work there and delete your copy on earth when that copy could continue on?

        And then this leads to modifying your copies’ minds to be better suited for the tasks that they are being spawned for.

        1. Why, for example, would you copy your mind to a body on Mars to do some work there and delete your copy on earth when that copy could continue on?

          Kind of like the “Gangers” in Dr. Who (“The Rebel Flesh”, “The Almost People”).

      4. The elephant in the room here is awareness. Our brain produces thoughts. But the thoughts themselves are not awareness. The thought can’t be aware of itself. There has to be something else that is aware of the thought or the thought happens and it has no effect.

        ^ This.

    3. You won’t have your balls, either, so you’ll never get horny again. Feature or bug?

      1. The brain is the biggest sex organ.

        1. Yes, but the copy won’t have a biological brain connected to a glandular system. The program will be there, but the wetware it interacts with won’t be.

          1. And if you fuck someone’s pickled brain, is it rape?

            1. Did the brain consent?

              1. The brain is not conscious, so no. But you don’t need consent from a sex doll. The question is whether the brain is indeed a person.

                1. *pickled brain that is not alive, but could potentially be revived

                  1. Contrast this with a computer that stores someone’s connectome. Clearly the computer is not a person, but should the connectome data be considered a person, if it is just stored and not active?

                2. It would be the same as molesting someone in a coma or otherwise unconscious. So, yeah.

        2. “The brain is the biggest sex organ.”

          Necessary, but not sufficient.*

          *true despite what you might think by observing males 15 to 30.

    4. This is true, Zebulon. Your heart has more neuron cells than muscle cells, and your gut is wired up with what some call the enteric brain. What they really need is to preserve the whole nervous system. Then they can just use it as a template to grow a new body around it.

    5. Even if you could reconstruct a mind from a forzen brain, I doubt it would be much like an actual embodied person.

      Yeah, freezing Micheal Jordan’s brain only works if you bring it back in Michael Jordan’s body and, even then, 55-yr.-old MJ’s brain isn’t going to play basketball the same way 25-yr.-old Michael Jordan did in either a 55-yr.-old *or* a 25-yr.-old body. Even if you perfectly iron out the synapses in the body and the mind, there’s likely loads of unknown personal and subconscious stuff that you’ll completely miss. Various forms of frissons or synesthesia that you may be able to detect as existing in any given brain but with no real way (other than brute force) of knowing the specific internal or external triggers.

      1. Translation: MJ preserved wouldn’t necessarily know or be able to foul Karl Malone on one end of the floor in order to steal the ball or to push Byron Russell on the other end of the floor in order to get the open look on his game winning jumper.

        1. The hate is strong with this one.

          1. Guilty as charged.

            This Masshole was a big fan of Stockton and Malone. The 97-98 Jazz did have home court advantage as they won 1 or 2 more games than the Bulls that season. Plus, IIRC, they beat the Bulls in both regular season games that year.

        2. As a college-educated biochemist who couldn’t pick Karl Malone or Byron Russell out of a line up all I can say is… exactly.

  7. Sounds like it would be a snap-shot of a brain, ignoring the very important dynamic processes.

  8. Obviously it would work, but it wouldn’t be you. It’d be an entirely new form of existence. Who is to say whether it would be worth it? I say it’s not what people really want.

    Nobody really wants to be a brain-in-a-vat; they want resurrection.

    1. Just make sure your hit points never go below -10, and you can be easily healed.

  9. And that’s all assuming that memories are even stored at synapses!

    With memory, this is still a bit of a question with some strong clues, but in terms of overall personality, the answer is most decidedly, ‘No.’

    A ‘young’ brain is known to make more connections more readily from available nascent neurons while an ‘old’ brain will winnow away these connections to become more efficient at repetitive tasks and patterns. So, even if you capture the specific neuron patterns, the behavior going forward is *known*, to a degree, to depend on neurons not in the pattern itself. Let alone necessarily creating the larger behavioral or functional patterns. That is to say, if you take someone who reads well, give them glaucoma for 20 yrs. such that their reading skills atrophy, pickle their brain and then reanimate them with perfect 20/20 vision the evidence is pretty good that you’ll get an illiterate shut in rather than a mind at it’s peak and to get from the invalid shut in to the reanimated peak-mind, you’re essentially going to have to transform the brain pretty heavily from the one that’s preserved.

  10. I think we’re running into what I’d call the resurrection/Star Trek teleportation problem.

    I grew up in a fundie religion that doesn’t believe the soul is immortal. You don’t go to heaven when you die; you’re physically resurrected at the Second Coming. I used to wonder, even as a little kid, whether the person who was resurrected at the Second Coming would really be me–or just someone else with all my memories.

    I’d wonder the same thing about Star Trek, too. Aren’t those people killed and replaced with a physical doppelganger every time they use the transporter? Because the person on the other side has all my memories doesn’t mean he’s me.

    I’m not sure there is any escaping the mind-body problem, and these guys seem to just be making an assumption about that. There are things in this universe whose existence can only be inferred through their interactions with gravity. There are other things that have no mass. Tell me you can take the part of my mind that makes me who I am and replicate through physical interactions with my body, and I know you’re making a huge assumption that may be unwarranted. Tell me that you’re taking my memories–but not me–and I’m not sure how much I care.

    1. Ultimately, what this is is religion for atheists. Let’s face it, the main point of religion is addressing the fear of dying, so that you go out with a feeling of hope that you will wake up in an afterlife. Same for pickling your brain. Whether they ever will be able to revive you is not the point. The point is to die with the hope that may be they will be able to do that.

      1. Whatever else Religion is, it’s also an evolutionary adaptation–with physical components in our minds.

        My understanding is that evolutionary biologists hold that the neocortex evolved the way it did both to accommodate and to reward social adaptations like language and religion.

        It’s no surprise that atheists’ are striving for the same things–since they the same neocortex as the rest of us.

        Even if they believe civilization and life sprang from the void purposeless, random void, they want their lives to have meaning. They want to transcend death. They want to feel connected to their society.

        This is what most people really mean when they say that atheism is a religion. They struggle with the same questions as the rest of us, and the answers they’re looking for are, likewise, riddled with faith uncertainty.

        1. Just for the record:

          “Robin Dunbar argues that the critical event in the evolution of the neocortex took place at the speciation of archaic homo sapiens about 500,000 years ago. His study indicates that only after the speciation event is the neocortex large enough to process complex social phenomena such as language and religion. The study is based on a regression analysis of neocortex size plotted against a number of social behaviors of living and extinct hominids.[12]

          Stephen Jay Gould suggests that religion may have grown out of evolutionary changes which favored larger brains as a means of cementing group coherence among savannah hunters, after that larger brain enabled reflection on the inevitability of personal mortality.[13]”


          Next time some chat room atheists goes after somebody for suggesting that religion may have contributed something beneficial to humanity in some way, ask them about the neocortex.

          I suspect many atheists aren’t accustomed to answering questions from an evolutionary perspective because most theists just don’t go there, but if you hold that religion is an evolutionary adaptation like language, then that comes associated with certain implications about its usefulness.

          No culture is known to have survived into the historical record without religion. There are implications associated with that, as well.

      2. You called it Chipper. That is exactly what it is. Ultimately, you have to believe in some kind of a soul for this procedure to do you any good. Otherwise, it is just a copy of you. Well, a copy of you living on doesn’t make you any less dead. I am not sure how you believe in a soul consistent with being an atheist. But I don’t see any point in doing this if you don’t. What really makes it a religion is that the people doing it are taking a leap of faith by not reconciling those two positions and pretending they can live on in copy version in a meaningful way without a soul.

        1. If you merely want a copy of you to exist oast your death, then it is essentially the same thing as having a child, with a lot more narcissism thrown in.

          1. I don’t know. I think people are too certain about some of this. What is the difference between you and your perfect copy? Could your copy know that it isn’t you without someone telling it so (and even then, would it believe them?)?

            If there is no difference, then what does it mean to say that it isn’t you? If it has all of your memories, isn’t that you in some sense? I mean, all we experience is the present moment. Solipsism is always a possibility. You can’t really know that you weren’t created a minute ago with all the memories you have.

            I don’t claim to know the answers to any of this, but I think there is a lot that needs to be nailed down and defined if you are going to make claims about this sort of thing.

            1. Gold star. Someone was paying attention.

            2. The question is not whether the copy is perfect. The question is it the same entity as you, or a new one that just has your memory?

              If it is the latter, then your existence does not continue, no matter how perfect the copy.

              1. And what is your test to detect the difference?

              2. If you make a copy of yourself but your original body still exists, you won’t share consciousness with the copy. You will not be one mind with two bodies. Therefore the copy has a separate existence from the original.

                1. And which is the original?

                  1. it does not matter which is the original. What matters is that they are not the same entity. There is no serial immortality happening.

      3. I’m pretty agnostic, but the approach difference between atheists and theists can be important. I would absolutely admit that atheism becomes it’s own sort of religion at times, but it depends on the atheist.

        If you approach atheism as if you know there is no god, well then you’ve already fallen into the same trap as a theist.

        Certainly you can make the obvious claim that you shouldn’t need to prove a negative in the form of a deity, but you also would need to deny even the possibility that, say, a being of some infinite nature created the cosmos. After all, we accept that the universe is contracting and explosively expanding so who is to say some race or individual escaped that pattern and reordered it to their own imagining?

        We are far too limited in scope to properly figured out such a problem in the first place, so coming down on one side or the other seems foolish. Better to concern ourselves with our treatment of ourselves over the existence of unknowable’s. Religion is important to me for philosophical reasons, but I’m not a big fan of it’s preconceptions.

        1. If you approach atheism as if you know there is no god, well then you’ve already fallen into the same trap as a theist.

          Certainly you can make the obvious claim that you shouldn’t need to prove a negative in the form of a deity

          In my experience, this is exactly where atheists tend to reside intellectually – “The burden shouldn’t be on me to prove that there’s not a grey-bearded old man living in the clouds judging all of my actions. The presumption should be that this is absurd unless proven otherwise.”

          Which ultimately is a straw man.

          In late-medieval “negative” theology (to take an example I’m intimately familiar with), the Supreme Being is beyond conception such that even the concept of existence is a misapplication (a Supreme Non-Being?), as the Supreme Being transcends all categories of thought (including Being vs. Non-Being).

          “Atheism,” like you say, is ultimately a belief system that simply defines itself in contrast to other belief systems. Much the same way that there is skepticism and there are Skeptics, where the latter in my experience are actually markedly un-skeptical about things they hear from the priests in white lab coats.

          1. Indeed, and it’s one reason why I tend to enjoy eastern philosophies like Taoism or Buddhism. I prefer idea’s over beliefs.

          2. it’s not a straw man. It’s an accurate representation of beliefs that many, many people have/have had.

  11. And of course, there is the philosophical question of whether or not a computer simulation of your brain would really be you.

    I’m pretty sure it won’t be, given that we’re chemical animals and we can look to digital vs. analog music patterns to figure this much out. Sampling just isn’t the same.

    1. *sigh* Sampling is exactly the same as long as your sample rate is more than 2x your highest frequency of interest. See Shannon-Nyquist. The great myth of analpg vs. digital lives on, although there may be some slight truth to even vs. odd harmonics due to different distortion mechanisms.

      1. It was meant to be an analogy, in the broadest sense while the ‘you’ created in the future would no doubt be human and have most if not all the shared characteristics it would be unknowable to those future people who create the artificial ‘you’ is perfectly accurate, close enough not to matter, or just ‘you’ in the broadest possible strokes. Even the re-created ‘you’ wouldn’t really know.

        People change over the course of their lives and can often differ pretty significantly between two points in time despite the ‘connection’ of memories, so is the resulting clone-you the same as you would have been? It’s essentially impossible to say since we can’t even model who we’ll be tomorrow let alone who we really are today.

        Basically, the whole thing assumes we know a lot more about consciousness than we do. In fact, we know virtually nothing about it.

        More related to your point, though, I’m not necessarily talking about what a person hears but I’m far from an expert there ^_^ I had assumed (probably incorrectly) that sampling would not result in the ‘exact’ same result from the original that was sampled.

        1. Ayup. Wiki prolly has a tolerable writeup on myquist sampling. It’s actually eady to show graphically.

  12. Mind backups will happen, but not like this. We ALREADY have the technology to read thoughts and images directly out of your mind. As this technology improves, it will get smaller and more affordable. Eventaully it will be a band you wear around your head as you go through your day. Everything you experience and every thought you have will be archived. It will store not just what you think, but HOW you think. These archives can be used to program an AI that not only has your collective life’s knowledge, but thinks the way you think.

    What’s funny about that is that, despite the fact that it’s a computer, if you’re bad at math, your AI will be bad at math 🙂

    For collecting all of your memories (or as many as you can manage) from before the band is available, there will be a variety of mental exercises that stimulate you to remember as many of the important events of your life as you can get at. Viewing old photos/videos, discussing past events with others who might remember it better, et…

    With your mind backed up in this fashion, it’s possible to have your AI come online moments after your eventual death. As far as your AI is concerned, it is you. It knows everything you know. It reacts the way you react. It can either be either an avatar in a VR/AR (virtual reality/augmented reality) world or it can be downloaded into a robotic body.

    1. With future VR/AR technology, you might even be able to exist out in the real world as a sort of electronic ghost that’s only viewable with an AR video device (glasses in the future). You’ll still be able to walk around in public and interact with all of your living friends.

      Once we finally get a really good battery technology, as well as better technology for replicating a human-like robotic body, we’ll be able to live in immortal robot bodies. What’s interesting about this one is that it’s the sex-doll industry that’s aready doing the heavy lifting on this one! Some day the human race will exist as immortal sexbots, and it is these sexbots that will go to the stars to colonize other planets.

      The human body is ill suited for space travel, but our sexbot replacements will be albe to do it with no problem. They could even take embryos and incubation technology with them and eventually start a living human colony on a far away planet!

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