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Identity crisis: Artificial intelligence and the flawed logic of mind uploading

Brain in clouds mind uploading concept

Image developed by Louis Rosenberg using Midjouney software

Image Credit: Image developed by Louis Rosenberg using Midjouney software

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Many futurists insist that technological advances will enable humans to upload our minds into personal computers, thereby allowing us to call home forever, defying our biological limitations. This idea is deeply flawed but has gained popular attention recently. So much so, Amazon includes a TV series in line with the premise called Upload, not forgetting countless other pop-culture references.

As background, the idea of mind uploading is rooted in the reasonable premise that the mind, like any system that obeys the laws of physics, could be modeled in software if sufficient computing power is specialized in the issue. To be clear, mind-uploading isn’t about modeling human brains in the abstract, but modeling specific people, their particular minds represented such detail that each neuron is accurately simulated, like the massive tangle of connections included in this.

Could it be even possible?

Needless to say, this is an exceptionally challenging task. You can find a lot more than 85 billion neurons in the human brain, each with a large number of links to other neurons.Thats around 100 trillion connections one thousand times a lot more than the amount of stars in the Milky Way. Its those trillions of connections that produce you who you’re your personality and memories, your fears and skills and ambitions.To replicate your brain in software (sometimes named an infomorph), some type of computer system would have to precisely simulate almost all those connections right down to their most subtle interactions.

That degree of modeling will never be done yourself. Futurists who have confidence in mind uploading often envision an automated process with a couple sort of super-charged MRI machine, that captures the biology right down to the molecular level.They further envision the usage of artificial intelligence (AI) software to show that detailed scan right into a simulation of every unique neuron and its own a large number of connections to other neurons.


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It is a wildly challenging task but is theoretically feasible. Additionally it is theoretically feasible that many simulated minds could coexist in the rich simulation of physical reality.Still, the idea that mind uploading will enable any biological human to increase their life is deeply flawed.

The true issue is that the main element words for the reason that prior sentence are their life.Although it is theoretically possible with sufficient technological advances to copy and reproduce the proper execution and function of a distinctive human brain inside a computer simulation, that human who was simply copied would remain within their biological body. Their brain would be safely housed of their skull.

The individual that could exist in the computer will be a copy.

Put simply, in the event that you signed yourself up for mind uploading, you’ll not feel just like you suddenly transported yourself right into a computer simulation.Actually, you’ll not feel some thing. The mind copying process may have happened without your knowledge when you were asleep or sedated, and you also wouldnt have the slightest inkling a reproduction of one’s mind existed in a simulation.

Mind uploading and the digital twin you, however, not really YOU

We are able to think about the copy as a digital clone or twin, nonetheless it wouldn’t normally be you.It might be a mental copy of you, including all your memories around the moment the human brain was scanned.But from that point on, the copy would generate its memories inside whatever simulated world it had been installed in. It could connect to other simulated people, learning new things and having new experiences.Or possibly it could connect to the physical world through robotic interfaces.Simultaneously, the biological you will be generating new memories and skills and knowledge.

Basically, your biological mind as well as your digital copy would immediately commence to diverge. They might be identical for just one instant and grow apart. Your skills and abilities would diverge.Your knowledge and understanding would diverge. Your personality and objectives would diverge.Over time, there will be significant differences. Yet, both versions would feel just like the true you.

It is a critical point the copy could have exactly the same feelings of individuality which you have. It could feel in the same way eligible for own its property and earn its wages and make its decisions.Actually, you and the copy may likely have a dispute concerning who reaches use your name, as you’ll both feel just like you’d used it your complete life.

EASILY made a copy of myself, it could awaken in a simulated reality and fully believe it had been the true Louis Barry Rosenberg, a lifelong technologist. If it could actually connect to the physical world through robotic means, the copy would feel just like it had every to live in the house and drive my car and head to my job.In the end, the copy would remember buying that house and getting that job and doing the rest that I could remember doing.

Quite simply, developing a digital copy through mind uploading has nothing in connection with enabling you to live forever. Instead, it could develop a competitor who has identical skills, capabilities, and memories and who feels equally justified to function as owner of one’s identity.

And yes, the copy would feel equally married to your partner and parent to your kids. Actually, if this technology was possible, we’re able to imagine the digital copy suing you for joint custody of one’s kids, or at the very least visitation rights.

To handle the paradox of developing a copy of a person instead of enabling digital immortality, some futurists suggest another approach. Rather than scanning and uploading a mind to some type of computer, they hypothesize the chance of gradually transforming an individuals brain, neuron by neuron, to a non-biological substrate. This is known as cyborging instead of uploading and can be an a lot more challenging technical task than scanning and simulating. Furthermore, its unclear if gradual replacement actually solves the identity problem, so Id call this direction uncertain at best.

All of this said, mind uploading isn’t the clear way to immortality that’s represented in popular culture. Probably, its a path for developing a duplicate that could react exactly just how you would in the event that you woke up 1 day and were told Sorry, I understand you remember engaged and getting married and having kids and a lifetime career, however your spouse isnt really your partner as well as your kids arent really your children as well as your job isnt really...

Is that something anyone would like to subject a copy of you to ultimately?

Personally, I see this as deeply unethical. So unethical, I wrote a cautionary graphic novel over about ten years ago called UPGRADE that explores the dangers of mind uploading. The book occurs in another world where everyone spends nearly all their lives in the metaverse.

What the inhabitants of the world dont realize is that their lives in the metaverse are continuously profiled by an AI system that observes almost all their actions and reactions, so that it can create a digital style of their minds from the behavioral perspective (no scanning required). Once the profiles are complete, the fictional AI convinces visitors to upgrade themselves by ending their life and allowing their digital copies to totally replace them.

When I wrote that book 14 years back, it had been intended as irony. Yet theres an emerging field today that’s headed in this very direction. Euphemistically called the digital afterlife industry, there are several startups pushing to digitize family members so that family can connect to them after their death. You can find even startups that are looking to profile your actions in the metaverse which means you too can live forever within their digital world. Even Amazon recently stepped into this space by demonstrating how Alexa can clone the voice of one’s dead grandmother and invite one to hear her speak.

With so much activity in this space, just how long before a startup begins touting the cost-saving great things about ending your daily life early and allowing your digital replacement to call home on? I fear its only a matter of time.My only hope is that entrepreneurs will undoubtedly be honest with the general public concerning the reality of mind uploading its not just a pathway to immortality.

At the very least, not just how lots of people think.

Louis Rosenberg, Ph.D., is really a pioneer in fields of VR, AR and AI. He earned his Ph.D. from Stanford University, has been awarded over 300 patents, and founded several successful companies. Rosenberg began his just work at Air Force Research Laboratorywhere he developed the initial functional augmented reality system to merge real and virtual worlds. Rosenberg happens to be CEO of Unanimous AI, the principle scientist of the Responsible Metaverse Alliance and global technology advisor to the XR Safety Initiative (XRSI).


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