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Saru

Human brain uploads possible by 2045 ?

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I accept the concept of mind uploading as a perfectly natural part of our evolutionary process... Allowing us to transcend the limitations of our biological bodies.

If you accept that what constitutes as our personalities and characters are nothing more then a complex map of synapses and neurons firing of and responding to external stimuli. And NOT some funky spirit sent down from the fairy in the sky to posses our bodies...

Then bring it on I say!

Welcome to UM, Cherrypress, and don't be dissuaded by opinionated people here, myself included. That being said:

Your dismissive reference to "some funky spirit" suggests an underdeveloped sense of the wholistic nature of the human being. Your scientific reductionism (". . .nothing more than a complex map of synapses and neurons. . .") is comparable to the intelligentsia of medieval Europe warning against sailing the Atlantic because one would eventually sail off the edge into the Abyss. That was state-of-the art science circa 811 AD. Just because something hasn't been quantified and catalogued yet means nothing about its reality.

And the following is a faith/rhetorical statement, not literal or scientific: When you're in your box full of chips, wires and electricity, I'll be flying high (mystically, not spatially or geographically) untethered from this material world. (A pipe-dream, perhaps, but we all have our faults.)

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We know that we and a lot of animals experience the world rather than sense it. That is, we "experience" the qualia (sensations and emotions) as a sortof interface between our minds and what our brains are telling us is happening, even thought these sensations are not part of the real world but generated somewhere in our brains or our minds. Neurologists generally ignore this fundamental problem and concentrate on how the signal gets processed in the brain, I think mainly because they have no idea of even how to approach it.

Mind is a process, probably of brain, maybe of other things too, comparable to a wave or an electromagnetic signal (where the electric wave generates a magnetic wave which generates an electric wave etc.). One of the things constantly influencing where it goes are sensations, these qualia, that we experience internally. That we have no idea how this happens is cited as reason to think it can't be duplicated in machines. I think we evolved with this, maybe tapping into some Tao or something, maybe (perhaps much more likely) via a phenomena we need some insight about that hasn't occured yet to anyone, but we did it naturally in our evolution, so it stands to reason that if we imitate what nature did we will get the same sort of result, although we won't understand it.

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We know that we and a lot of animals experience the world rather than sense it. That is, we "experience" the qualia (sensations and emotions) as a sortof interface between our minds and what our brains are telling us is happening, even thought these sensations are not part of the real world but generated somewhere in our brains or our minds. Neurologists generally ignore this fundamental problem and concentrate on how the signal gets processed in the brain, I think mainly because they have no idea of even how to approach it.

Mind is a process, probably of brain, maybe of other things too, comparable to a wave or an electromagnetic signal (where the electric wave generates a magnetic wave which generates an electric wave etc.). One of the things constantly influencing where it goes are sensations, these qualia, that we experience internally. That we have no idea how this happens is cited as reason to think it can't be duplicated in machines. I think we evolved with this, maybe tapping into some Tao or something, maybe (perhaps much more likely) via a phenomena we need some insight about that hasn't occured yet to anyone, but we did it naturally in our evolution, so it stands to reason that if we imitate what nature did we will get the same sort of result, although we won't understand it.

But if this evolved ability to experience these qualia is a natural part of us, but not identifiable, quantifiable nor as of yet accessible to our senses (the ability, not the qualia per se), how are we convinced that it is recordable in digital form and containable in a box of wires and circuitry? I don't get the leap. Your use of the word 'Tao' (roughly, "The Way," a term Jesus and subsequent Christians appropriated) is again an ephemeral descryptid (eluding description) and we have no reason to assume such a concept is transferable or even locatable.

I appreciate your explanatory offering, but I still think it begs the question of: How does the Tao get in the box? (or, dare I say it, how to insert the 'ghost into the machine?'). More simply: How does the indefinable get defined within physicality/materiality?

Literature--and much science itself--is a warning against the hubris that believes we can imitate nature. My references to Frankenstein aren't cheeky or sarcastic, but reminders that there's a whole history of scientific ambiguity to account for (from splitting the atom to premature deaths among cloned creatures).

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The Tao gets there because its everywhere.

I don't want to be glib but that is about all I can say. If it works in animals and people it should work in machines that achieve the same things.

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I'm wondering just how the brain is going to be uploaded into a computer. Well, the mind. What's the technology?

The brain performs many functions separate from mind or consciousness. Does the mind require a biological body to be healthy? A mind floating around in a computer without its body I think would become disoriented.

This computer mind would also have to recieve signals from the outside world. The computer would have to recreate all the five senses and be connected in some way to that mind.

Perhaps just the realization of that mind that it is computerized would be a traumatic experience for it.

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There is no such thing as uploading your brain to a computer. A computer doesn't know or will most likely never be able to scan the memories information feelings and everything in the brain onto a computer. The human brain is too complex for a computer to be able to scan. An MRI can detect activity in certain areas but can't actually know what information is stored there or what memories are currently being accessed by the brain.

As a person that works on R&D projects at Intel, I can say that for the next several decades there is no fear of computer processing power multiplication slowing down. We're already working on stuff 2 generations of processors ahead of what is on the market. By 2045 (30+ years) you can expect computing power to be about a quarter of a million times faster then today's best computer. Soooo..... Given enough memory (And Intel is working to improve that at the same pace), it is not unreasonable to imagine that a complete and virtual brain, full of virtual connections and activity potential, dendrites and all.... could be simulated, given the right imaging technology.

The computer end of this is NOT going to be a problem. It is the imaging that I imagine would be hard to produce.

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Perhaps just the realization of that mind that it is computerized would be a traumatic experience for it.

Very, very likely. It would not surprise me if only a small faction of these virtual minds were created and did not go immediately insane....

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As a person that works on R&D projects at Intel, I can say that for the next several decades there is no fear of computer processing power multiplication slowing down. We're already working on stuff 2 generations of processors ahead of what is on the market. By 2045 (30+ years) you can expect computing power to be about a quarter of a million times faster then today's best computer. Soooo..... Given enough memory (And Intel is working to improve that at the same pace), it is not unreasonable to imagine that a complete and virtual brain, full of virtual connections and activity potential, dendrites and all.... could be simulated, given the right imaging technology.

The computer end of this is NOT going to be a problem. It is the imaging that I imagine would be hard to produce.

Yes, and one cannot image an immaterial reality such as self-consciousness, much less digitalize it.

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The Tao gets there because its everywhere.

I don't want to be glib but that is about all I can say. If it works in animals and people it should work in machines that achieve the same things.

But that is exactly the fallacy: Animals, machines and humans are not equivalencies, and never will be.

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But that is exactly the fallacy: Animals, machines and humans are not equivalencies, and never will be.

How do you know? Animals and humans both share sentience. Humans may have more than just sentience, or our special characteristics may just be another form of sentience. I don't think increasing computer power is going to make thinking machines. The hype of AI has passed and its promises fell flat. Some different paradigm will be needed to get sentient computers. My only point in this is that we don't need to understand sentience to make it artificially. Natural selection "understands" nothing, but it made it.

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Posted (edited)

How do you know? Animals and humans both share sentience. Humans may have more than just sentience, or our special characteristics may just be another form of sentience. I don't think increasing computer power is going to make thinking machines. The hype of AI has passed and its promises fell flat. Some different paradigm will be needed to get sentient computers. My only point in this that we don't need to understand sentience to make it artificially. Natural selection "understands" nothing, but it made it.

Technically, I don't "know" anything for certain. With a few exceptions (cetaceans, some primates, maybe elephants) observation and common sense suggest animal sentience is of a different level than human self-consciousness (excepting some anomalies). You are clearly a materialist (I know you have previously described yourself as a communist, as am I, and dialectical materialism is part of the Marx-Engels angle) based on your assumption that human consciousness is reducible to physical material to be confined in a box full of wires, computer chips and digitized data (beware of power outages until the discovery of 'infinity batteries').

There are many "faith statements" in your post, but for this post I'll say this: Natural selection is a recognizable physical process over time, not a personal entity that "understands" or "makes" things. That's called 'anthropomorphization' when we apply it to 'gods,' and the same holds true when we apply it to natural processes, systems and concepts categorized by observation and testing. It is a corrosive tautology to say that we don't have to understand sentience to make it artificially because an impersonal, inexorable process called natural selection "made it" without sentience of its own, because natural selection is a concept, not a causative agent, and therefore doesn't make anything.

On seventeenth thought, what I just described in the above paragraph is theological--akin to 'creatio ex nihilo,' 'creation out of nothing,' alleged to be in the purview of the Judeo-Christian god "Yhwh" (and others, but not all gods). Gods, in theory and theology, can create something out of nothing, but humans, whales, dolphins and elephants can't. That's why the notion is Frankensteinian. We are not gods.

There is no evidence--scientific, anecdotal or otherwise-- that human consciousness, an immaterial, ephemeral and unrecordable reality known only to its possessor, can be contained in a human-made structure designed to host a facsimile of human brain activity. Only mystics would assert this is possible, but they would never stick it in a box and call it human.

Edited by szentgyorgy
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Well first I'm not a materialist; I'm a Buddhist. I think mind is life-spirit and is reborn in the cycle of Samsara. The Buddha never addressed the question of how this world and the cycle came into existence, I think wisely, and I long ago figured out that it had to be through the Western concept of evolution.

I'm a Communist of the "Ho Chi Minh" variety, being Vietnamese, and this envisions a mixed society, primarily socialist, and a government of a limited number of people (party "members") to avoid the failings of both Western democracies and oligarchic or aristocratic systems. The government here is not hostile to religion, nor even officially atheist, although I am (most educated Buddhists are atheists, in my experience).

The key concept here in this discussion, to me at least, is whether or not a sensate computer is possible. I think we tapped into something very non-physical, Taoist, non-reductionist, when we evolved sensate existence. How is it that we experience the world we live in? When I say the sky is blue, the "blue" is entirely in my head or mind -- it has nothing to do with the particular wavelengths of light impinging my eyes. When I feel pain, what I "feel" is not nerves reporting injury, but a sensation that no one who has never felt pain could possibly describe, and that is a creation of my mind. These are the "qualia" of sensate existence. A a reader who does not get it would do well to research the subject.

Now can a computer be built that also experiences the world? On the surface it seems unlikely, since it seems to involve something non-material, not subject to reductionist analysis, and in fact inconceivable in the world of cause and effect. But still, natural selection tapped it and found it so useful it took over from the previous reflexive programming in almost all life processes.

A side issue -- you accuse me of anthropomorphizing natural process. I rather dislike that accusation. We use the anthropomorphisms entirely metaphorically, and I don't know a biologist talking about evolution who doesn't

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Posted (edited)

Well first I'm not a materialist; I'm a Buddhist. I think mind is life-spirit and is reborn in the cycle of Samsara. The Buddha never addressed the question of how this world and the cycle came into existence, I think wisely, and I long ago figured out that it had to be through the Western concept of evolution.

I'm a Communist of the "Ho Chi Minh" variety, being Vietnamese, and this envisions a mixed society, primarily socialist, and a government of a limited number of people (party "members") to avoid the failings of both Western democracies and oligarchic or aristocratic systems. The government here is not hostile to religion, nor even officially atheist, although I am (most educated Buddhists are atheists, in my experience).

The key concept here in this discussion, to me at least, is whether or not a sensate computer is possible. I think we tapped into something very non-physical, Taoist, non-reductionist, when we evolved sensate existence. How is it that we experience the world we live in? When I say the sky is blue, the "blue" is entirely in my head or mind -- it has nothing to do with the particular wavelengths of light impinging my eyes. When I feel pain, what I "feel" is not nerves reporting injury, but a sensation that no one who has never felt pain could possibly describe, and that is a creation of my mind. These are the "qualia" of sensate existence. A a reader who does not get it would do well to research the subject.

Now can a computer be built that also experiences the world? On the surface it seems unlikely, since it seems to involve something non-material, not subject to reductionist analysis, and in fact inconceivable in the world of cause and effect. But still, natural selection tapped it and found it so useful it took over from the previous reflexive programming in almost all life processes.

A side issue -- you accuse me of anthropomorphizing natural process. I rather dislike that accusation. We use the anthropomorphisms entirely metaphorically, and I don't know a biologist talking about evolution who doesn't

Well, Frank, I didn't mean it as an accusation. My comment was about the way in which you spoke about natural selection as if it were a causative agent. It may have been my misreading, but it sounded like something akin to sentience was being imputed to a concept. I agree that natural selection was the means by which sentience/human consciousness developed.

Either we're saying the same thing from different vectors, or we disagree on what constitutes consciousness. I still maintain that human consciousness, although it may be produced in the brain, is not reducible to a physical form (cells, biochemistry, electro-magnetism, brain waves, whatever) that can be captured on a silicon chip. Here's an example, speculative though it may be. I just wrote a poem about my hatred of America's inordinate self-pride. After a few days, I memorize the poem. Then, after burning the only manuscript of the poem, I am arrested by Homeland Security agents who plug electrodes into my head. Do you think they can (ever) "read" my poem from my 'grey matter?' I doubt it, if only because all the memory and sensate data included in the poem will be inextricably intertwined with my reading of American history, my neural pathways representing rage, frustration and disappointment, my cognitive understanding of freedom of expression, etc. etc. It is just this kind of "stuff" that no one has shown is recordable and retrievable--even in a live brain, much less the boxed one. Only my personal consciousness, metaphorically my 'spirit,' can organize that stuff.

Thanks for clarifying your thinking on this. I'll admit that part of my concern in this thread is the idea that a human personality could be reduced to materiality. I'd rather remain silent, strapped in the Homeland Security interrogation chamber, reciting the poem they can't retrieve to my (metaphor alert!) heart's content, free and unassailable in the castle of my consciousness.

Edited by szentgyorgy
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