Re: NEURO: Advanced neurons?

Anders Sandberg (
Sun, 16 Mar 1997 15:45:35 +0100 (MET)

On Sat, 15 Mar 1997, Paul Hughes wrote:

> >Yes, but not significantly harder. We already have quite elaborate
> >cellular models, and given the technology needed for an uploading
> >scan we can certainly learn enough about the neural trickery.
> >
> The idea of an “uploading scan” presupposes that the new matrix one is
> uploading into, is at least equal to if not more complex, efficient and faster
> than the one you already posses. My contention, is that the necessary
> (nano)technology to create a better matrix than your brain, is much more
> advanced than the intermediate technology necessary to augment or re-engineer
> you pre-existing one.

I disagree. First, uploading will not likely start out as a mental
enhancement, rather as at first as an interesting problem in neuroscience
and then as a radical way of saving a dying person (there is a strong
paralell with cryonics). In this case we are not interested at all in
having a "better" matrix, which would be an invisible level anyway to the
upload, we need a "good enough" matrix able to run the upload. This could
presumably be done using a simple nano-CAM slab as Eugene likes to
propose, or some other massively paralell nanocomputer cluster. Building
such systems are very likely to be among the first applications of
nanotechnology (nanocomputers are practically necessary for creating a
real assembler).

Being run on a huge pile of Z80s or a quantum dot cellular array would not
make any difference for the upload as long as he or she didn't try to
interact with the outside world (what I would like to call the
"Permutation City Axiom", after Greg Egan's book); what matters is the
user interface - you won't become smarter if your emulated neurons are
emulated in Lisp than in assembler, but if the user interface allows
improved access to information you become effectively smarter. Having fast
hardware is of course desirable, but this is just quantitative improvement
of the basic design. Becoming truly posthuman infomorphs would require
both a good matrix, a great interface to it and other resources and some
remodeling of our minds, a quite complex project.

Enhancing the brain is not simple (if it was, we would already be doing
it) and nanotechnology will certainly help, but is no panacea. To be able
to improve it we need to understand it throughly (the second precondition
for uploading), at least the relevant parts. Nano-neural interfaces,
coprocessors and other fun stuff would be very useful, and most likely
develop in paralell to uploading (I'm sure there will be a field of
neural nanotechnology, and I plan to work in it) since both need the
technologies and techniques being developed for the other. They
complement each other neatly.

Anders Sandberg Towards Ascension!
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y