RE: clones/'perfect'-mates/self-image

Billy Brown (
Mon, 28 Dec 1998 16:14:07 -0600

Hal Finney wrote:
> It is not necessary to download; copying uploads should be
> much easier..

Yes, that's what I meant. Upload, make however many copies you want, then run them in VR or download to more-or-less-human bodies.

> Of course, you have to be able to upload in the first place, but that
> may not require advanced nanotechnology. It could be as
> simple as some kind of high-resolution MRI, or perhaps it could be done
> by freezing you, slicing you up and scanning in each slice, then running
> software which simulates the effect of undoing the freezing damage.
> Any upload will probably require considerably more computing technology
> than is feasible today, but there are other paths than super
> nanotech.

Running a brute-force simulation of the matter in the human mind, based on some kind of molecular simulation software, would take somewhere in the general neighborhood of 10^30 MFLOPS. In contrast, duplicating the actual processing the human brain performs would take something like 10^8 MFLOPS. With the usual assumption of a 2-year doubling time for computer power, we will be able to run that second program in a supercomputer by 2010, but the brute-force approach won't be possible until around 2160. Do you really think its going to take us that long to build the first assembler?

Besides, to make that curve hold we will need to start using nanotechnology to build computers by the middle of the century.

> Re-engineering brains requires a wholly different level of
> understanding.
> You would need detailed understanding of how the brain works
> in functional terms. You have to know what to tweak and how to tweak
> it. You would
> have to understand consciousness and how it is related to
> brain activity, a matter which appears intractably difficult today..

Understanding a human mind isn't nearly as hard as building a computer capable of simulating the human brain in complete detail. The technology required to keep Moore's law going through the 21st century would also give us the ability to probe the workings of a living brain on a routine basis. This, in turn, would allow us to create computer simulations of its functional components (using advanced neural net systems, not chemistry simulations). Such simulations would trivial amounts of computing power for the machines then in use, which means that researchers would be able to test alternative theories quickly and easily. Once you can do that, I have trouble seeing how it could take more than a few decades to unravel how the whole system works.

Even by a conservative estimate, that gives us the ability to design brain modifications by the end of the 21st century. At that point we are still 60 years shy of being able to run the brute-force sim. So far as I can see, anything that puts off the first development would delay the second by just as much. I think I feel safe making a call on this one...

Billy Brown, MCSE+I