Re: No nanotech before AI

From: Charlie Stross (
Date: Wed Jul 12 2000 - 08:11:22 MDT

On Wed, Jul 12, 2000 at 10:00:43AM -0400, Robin Hanson wrote:
> I disagree that you need advanced nanotech to upload. It all depends on
> just how detailed information you need on neurons and synapses. And it
> could well be worth spending billions of dollars to scan just one brain,
> given how much money could be made from copies of that one brain. We didn't
> need advanced nanotech to read the human genome -- because it was worth
> enough to read just one genome.

Here's another possibility I haven't heard discussed ...

Work on face recognition software has uncovered the fact that there are
actually only something like 56 distinct 'eigenfaces' -- collections of
distinctive features by which we can identify people. All of us have faces
which contain features which are a mix of one or more eigenfaces.

Given that as a species we are fairly genetically homogeneous, what
are the chances that there exist a bunch of 'eigenbrains' -- phenotypic
expressions of the human genome, in neural tissue, which all of us are
just variations on? Yes, we develop neural circuits by killing off loads
of synapses as we age (leaving only connections that _do_ something);
and we all have different memories, stored presumably as physiological
adaptations in the synapses of neurones. But if the overall architecture
is the same, it might turn out that the cost of uploading is some massive
amount (to map the first few dozen brains), then drops by several orders
of magnitude (for mapping only the _differences_ from the standard model).

-- Charlie

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