Paths to Uploading (was: RE: clones/'perfect'-mates/self-image)

Billy Brown (
Fri, 1 Jan 1999 23:11:03 -0600

You guys have some interesting thoughts about uploading, but I think we're still talking past each other a bit when we get down to actual scenarios. I can see several reasonably possibilities, depending on how fast different technologies evolve. However, I think some of the options that have been mentioned rely on combinations of capabilities and limitations that are self-contradictory.

To do an upload requires advanced computers, advanced sensors, and knowledge about how the brain works. To get a reasonably upload scenario you have to project advances in all three of these fields at the same time, and see what you come up with.

Now, the traditional proof-of-principle for uploading is obviously never going to actually be used. It assumes no knowledge at all about how the brain works, which results in enormous computation requirements. Unless you think the Omega hardware will be built tomorrow, and everyone in the biotech industry is about to jump off a cliff, that doesn't make sense.

A simulation at the cellular level, relying purely on advanced knowledge of biochemistry, lets you reduce the computational burden by several orders of magnitude. It still isn't very likely, however, because it matches a modest increase in medical knowledge with a fantastic improvement in computers and sensor technology.

A much more probable scenario would project medical advances forward until there is hardware fast enough to run the sim, and sensors good enough to gather the data. That implies at least a moderately good understanding of the brain - something better than just an understanding of biochemistry, but probably not good enough to just model the brain's data processing.

Billy Brown, MCSE+I