Uploading -- A Little Wishful Fiction

Robert P. Munafo (rpm%mrob.uucp@spdcc.com)
Sun, 25 Jan 98 11:50:16 +0400 (EST)

Excerpts from the journal of David Jensen, an early mind transfer patient.

<> 2031 March 12th, Wednesday, 2:02 PM

Riding to my third and final briefing session with the brain surgeons. I
review my notes from the last two sessions. At the first session they
talked about early discoveries with the corpus callosum, (big nerve
bundle linking the left brain with the right brain) and the experiences
of patients in the 1900's who had one side of their brain removed, and
other patients who had to have various pieces taken out. It was kind of
creepy but I think they were getting me used to the fact that some
pretty serious things were going to happen to me if I gave the go-ahead.
I'm still a little queasy about having them cut into me. Anyway, at the
end of the session they asked the $100,000 question: Now that you've
heard what it's like to have half your brain disconnected and removed,
imagine the reverse -- having a new brain *added* and *attached*.

The second briefing was all about the information theory and statistical
properties of brains. They talked about how the links of a brain's
neurons had been found to have the same statistical distribution as:
healthy societies, the 1900's telephone system, large massively parallel
supercomputers, N-dimensional hypercubes and several other things I had
never heard of, like "linguistic root-concept networks". They also
talked about the different functional components of the brain and how
quickly each function would begin to feel different as it diffused over
into the new brain.

<> 4:35 PM

The doctors gave me a handout from the third session. I'm going to type
it in here so I can recycle the paper.

"The artificial brain will be simulated until it reaches the point
where it is ready to become part of the intelligence wave pattern,
more precisely called 'the function ring of adaptive entropic

"The human brain will be connected to the artificial brain by means
of trillions of connections, between individual neurons -- enough
connections so that the bisection bandwidth is enough to keep the
two brains almost completely up to date with each other."

(I asked about "bisection bandwidth", and the doctors said it measured
how much information, in bits per second, could travel between two
halves of a brain, or a computer network. An old 1990's term, I
remembered right after I asked. In computer architecture we call it
"interchange rate".)

"The two brains then begin to interoperate as one brain. Thoughts,
perceptions, emotions and other similar phenomena begin to occur in
both halves nearly simultaneously just as they do on the left and
right halves of a normal brain.

"The human consciousness will start to perceive the actions of the
artificial brain as part of its consciousness. This will happen
gradually, like fingers slowly creeping across the 'new callosum'
and into the other brain. The process is gradual because the new
neurons take a while to develop new 'wave patterns'. At the
patient's request or if the neuroanalyst deems necessary, the
process can be made more gradual by switching on the connections

"The patient starts to get accustomed to his/her new thoughts, as
each piece of the new brain becomes part of one consciousness. It
becomes part of you; your senses and actions are directly linked
through the new parts of the brain as well as the old.

"Cautious patients often worry that the new brain will influence the
old brain just as much as the old brain influences the new. This
doesn't happen because the new 'neurons' are initially configured in
'high learning index' mode, much like the neurons in the speech
processing centers during the first few years of a child's life. The
new neurons essentially rewire themselves until they 'realize' that
they're interoperating in a consistent way. For a technical
explanation see [ANG:anthro.brain.learn-7:/Salter.Evan/2008a

"The 'new corpus callosum' has one end in the computer system the
patient will communicate with, and the other end in a massive bundle
of tiny fibers that extends into the brain. The surgeons are
responsible for making sure that the millions of fibers are
reasonably evenly distributed throughout all active parts of the
brain. It doesn't matter precisely where each one ends up as long as
they're fairly evenly distibuted, because the new brain maps itself
to all the neural patterns during the neuronal learning process.
Each fiber picks up signals from twenty thousand points along its
length, for a total of a few trillion connections. The precise
number varies by patient.

"The fundamental physical technology dates back to the mid-1900's,
initially developed as a prosthesis for patients born blind. In
early operations a mere 100 to 1000 connections were made to the
visual cortex but the brain quickly learned to derive useful visual
information and incorporate the signals into its experience."

<> 2031 March 14th, Friday, 11:35 PM

Had a really nice dinner with Linda tonight. I took her out to the
Italian place on Collins Av, where we went on that midsummer when we met
Andrew. We've been closer and happier these last few days than anytime I
remember since that midsummer. I think she knows what I'm heading into
and really respects me for it. Anyway, I told her about my decision when
we got home, and we had a great night together. It's nice to have her
sleeping so softly next to me.

<> 2031 April 3rd, Thursday

They brought the new eyes "on line" today. At first they seemed like a
totally alien input; "a new sense" as the doctors said. I've got this
annoying mess of -- sort of like hallucinations or -- well they're not
sights or sounds anyway, but they're synchronized with what I'm seeing.
I should have done drugs when I had the chance, maybe I'd be able to
describe this if I had experienced synesthesia firsthand.

Anyway, whatever it is, it dosn't appear as vision, yet! The doctors say
it'll "click" within a few weeks, like when you're learning French and
they throw you into the middle of Lyons or someplace and you have no one
to speak English with anymore. Time will tell.

<> April 7th, 8:30 AM

Oh my god -- I have just re-experienced a memory from when I was in the
womb -- I can't describe it at all but I have this gut feeling just like
when my vision started working for the first time. I know it sounds
crazy, but I've felt this before and it's the deepest oldest sensation
I've ever had. I also had that weird "embryo" feeling this morning, like
I felt sometimes during the chemotherapy in 1987. This feels just like
that! Wow, that's cool.

<> 2031 April 19th, Saturday, 2:58 PM

With the new headset on I can close my eyes, and I still see! My new
'eyes' are still open. When I turn my head I see different parts of the
world around me. The only drawback right now, is this irritating
sensation that I'm forcing my eyes not to blink, like in a childhood
staring contest. The doctors say it'll go away after a few days on the

My hearing is mostly transferred, too. Linda asked me today about the
other senses, like smell and taste. I told her that those senses are
being linked electronically, but there are no physical prostheses so I
won't be able to smell her perfume for example, once they've transferred
the olfactory nerves out of my body -- unless she sets it in the
simulator preferences on the console.

That didn't help at all. Linda got pretty sad when I said that. I'm
going to start giving her more time to be with me alone, so I can just
listen and be with her. I'll make sure the doctors know how important
this is. We've been through it several times but nothing can prepare you
for the real experience. She needs to face it and she's facing it now
and I'm going to give her my undivided attention.

<> 2031 May 20th, Tuesday

They briefed me for the next stage today. Basically the old brain will
be shut down bit by bit. As this is happening I have to take a lot of
time and effort reexperiencing all kinds of memories, emotions, and
thoughts in order to recall the memory contents of my old mind and let
the new mind learn the patterns. The whole process can take up to 7
years! That's a long time for me to have to stay in this wheelchair! I
know I've thought about it for years but it still seems like a big deal.
I guess the last couple months have spoiled me, with so many things
happening so quickly.

But, the doctors assure me I need to do this, 'memory lane therapy' as
they call it. It's this part of the process, this slow experiencing of
the millions of different thoughts and emotions that really accomplishes
the mind transfer. I'll undergo lots of trauma later if I leave any
large parts of my memory behind. I remember the horror stories of
recovering Alzheimer's patients 20 years ago!

Again I'm glad I kept such detailed journals, particularly during the
90's and 2000's. Those are years I will always cherish. Linda has found
me some more monthly documentaries of national and world history,
including a great series for the 1970's. I hope so -- nobody I've
watched so far really did justice to that period.

<> 2032 October 23rd, Saturday, 11:00 AM

I just finished reliving the Sterling Men's Weekend today! It was the
Simmons-Thomas adaptation, with all my journal notes woven into the
holoplay by Andrew's studio, and level 3 subliminal prompting. Anyway,
IT WAS AWESOME!!! and I'm glad I decided to do this, a great way to
spend my 69th birthday indeed! Linda was impressed. I still wish I had
her with me the first time I completed the Weekend, and I think now she
understands why. If not, well... she soon will! O-8

<> 2036 April 4th, Friday

"We are here today to pay our respects to the mortal remains of David
Jensen, comrade, friend, lover, husband, father.

"Those who share David's beliefs, that he lives on in the ether world,
pay tribute to this body that served him so well until he was able to
move on.

"And those who are spiritual, be assured that David's spirit lives on,
and was if anything, honored by the attention David gave to try to
remain with his friends and family, helping loving and serving all those
who were close to him.

"And all together, be assured in your own way and do not weep for David,
for even now he smiles and stands among us. And in your own turn, you
may step forward and tell the assembly how you will preserve his legacy.

"David, above all you taught me the importance of being clear on my
purpose, being courageous and giving 100 percent. I will pass that on to
others as I continue my life!

"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. What was, is gone, and what is, shall go,
but all shall come again. May the spirits bless you all for all of your
days. Amen."

<> 2044 Feb 3rd, Wednesday, 8:30 AM (Ether Time: 2048 Nov 11th, Wednesday,
11:14 PM)

Preparing my summary statement for the Ether Society SIG, New Candidates
Introduction. My 125th prepared public speech, near as I can tell. What
a great life I've had! No, what a great life I've *started*!

You will live in a distributed redundant multiprocessing system, on
several computers around the world, along with many others like you. The
computers still need to be maintained physically, and many human beings
who do not wish to forego their mortality are happy to do so. The
symbiosis between the mortals and the immortals is nearly perfect.

The immortals vacate the planet, freeing the environment and physical
space for the remaining mortals to live in greater comfort. Earthers
finally get the smaller population they've been fighting so long to get.
The immortals earn their keep by continuing to invent and create,
solving more and more of the remaining problems of the mortals. As their
minds multiply the invention rate increases.

The mortals, while sacrificing immortality and burdened with physical
work (which nevertheless decreases with passing years as the immortals
continue to invent more automation and efficiency), are blessed with the
simple physical life they love and believe in. They can bear children
the old fashioned way, and their children live into a choice that they
can take when they're ready -- remain mortal and risk death, or transfer
and become immortal.

It is proposed that a substantial number of humans will form a third
class, of mortal humans who are linked to the etherworld through
computer implants. We still don't have good technology for doing this
without confining them to some sort of wheelchair, but many consider
that no problem. This third class becomes dependent on both the physical
world *and* the etherworld, and provides the important services of
diplomacy and policing the balance of power between the mortals and the
immortals. It is in their best interests that the symbiosis continue and
neither side "defeat" the other. Much like the checks and balances of
the three branches of American government, the three classes of people
cooperate to maintain a working global society.

Within the etherworld, many new possibilities will develop. Trek fans --
remember the Holodeck? It is one of the *simpler* things you could do!
Individual minds begin to discover that they can share thoughts, and
even combine if they wish, with other minds. A new type of marriage,
much more powerful than anything possible in the mortal world, occurs
when two minds irrevocably merge into one -- greater than the sum of the
original two. This new, greater intelligence can do things neither of
the two could do alone, much faster and more efficiently than the two
could do working together as partners. One can imagine this merging
process continuing, producing larger and larger intelligences... Can you
imagine yourself one day saying:

"I will no longer be much compared to one of these merged
intelligences. No matter how smart I am on my own, these larger
intelligences are smarter! Eventually I'll see that my personal
pride isn't worth it -- after all, I'm not doing much at all
compared to one of *them*!"

Alternately, two individuals may retain their seperate consciousness but
choose to create a new intelligence, trained by both of them -- a child.
The neuroscientists learned that it takes 7 years (normalized to the
year 2000, or about 4.1 years today) to train the new intelligence
enough to consider it an adult. The natural human generation time has
gone from 14 or 15 down to 7.

The mortals will have one unique experience that we might never enjoy
ourselves -- watching the other half of their society accelerate and
ultimately reach lightning speed. As computing speed continues to
improve, everyone gets more processing time for their money, and no-one
foregoes the opportunity to keep up with everyone else. The
child-training process becomes faster (in real time). The human
generation time continues to decrease. Generations come more and more
quickly. As the population grows, invention happens faster and computing
speed evolves more quickly too. To the immortals, this speeding up won't
be happening -- as if traveling at near the speed of light -- they'll
see the physical world *slowing down*.

For those still waiting to decide if they want to step over, just
remember: you *can* take it with you. Everything you are doing now is
useful if it can ultimately be transferred into etherspace. Your
posessions are useful if they can be digitized, photographed, or
otherwise brought over. Your home TV movies and journals of all kinds
will be very useful; they will provide the immortals with a way of going
back into the old world and visualizing what it was like.

<> Ether 2063.10.23,09:30 (Earth GMT: 2050 Jan 11th)

Hey Jeff, hope things are going well. Yeah I know I didn't write back
when I said I would. I'll give you 50 as soon as I'm off link.

Today's the big day: I'm 100 years old. Of course, I keep reminding
Linda that back on Earth I'm only 86 (and she's barely 85!). Anyway,
we're spending the day in the holoprogram I picked out last spring, the
Las Vegas Luxor honeymoon suite, circa 1995. The rest of Linda's
presents are -- appropriate to the setting. That's all I'll say here.
Even in Etherspace there are circles of confidentiality.

So, let me know when you're coming across. (-: Ha ha, only serious. I
really *do* get that you're ready for it though. I wouldn't say it if I
didn't! Anyway, there's an open house at 4:00 PM on the 18th, your time.
I'd love to have you there.

Call back anytime, I'll set the machine if it's nighttime. You've got a
day or else it's *your* 50! (-: See ya, jerk

Copyright 1998 by Robert P. Munafo. All rights reserved. This work may
be reposted on Usenet newsgroups, mailing lists and archive sites as
long as this notice remains included. This work MAY NOT be included on
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without prior approval. Inquiries about reproduction are welcome.

Several other types of uploading are described at this page:

Extropianism in general is described at:

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