Re: Uploading and Nanotech

Anders Sandberg (
21 Apr 1998 22:33:40 +0200

=- deluxe -= <> writes:

> Anders Sandberg wrote:
> >
> > > U/Ling may arrive but like so many technological advances, I'd predict
> > > its arrival as a sudden fit of technological evolution, not as a
> > > graduated science.
> >
> > Why?
> Hmm.. Because I'm not a scientist, but an artist, there's less reason in
> this statement than you are probably hoping for. I'm saying this based on
> intuition and a lifetime of growing up around the Silicon Valley/Bay Area.
> I've always thought that bold advances in any high-technology are the
> result of a synergy of theoretical ideas melding together.

I agree with that, but that doesn't mean some technologies just
appears overnight. Just look at the history of the personal computer -
it was a quick evolution by many standards, but it still took several
years and involved a gradual refinement of the technological synergy
that made it possible.

> When it comes to
> the technology needed to scan the brain, I think it will be the product of
> one incredible idea/device connected to some existing technology. I'm sure
> that you could argue this is graduated science..

You bet :-) My scenario is like this: in 2030, nanotechnology has
helped neuroscientists to understand neurons so well that they can be
simulated with high fidelity, and some research teams have managed to
"scan" the nervous system of trained C Elegans individuals into
computer models by hand. Some bright nanoengineer comes up with a good
disassembly process that can disasseble solid matter, recording its
structure with a high precision. There are already useful pattern
recognition software out there, and one just has to combine the
different processes to get uploading. Everybody in the neuroscanning
business realises it, and tries to make it work. It turns out to be
much trickier than it seems for a variety of reasons (like scaling up
the pattern recognition process to work on nanoscans and linking it to
the creation of a neuromodel, and the unexpected tendency for the
disassembler to gum up in the presence of myelin). But after a few
years, a mouse is uploaded, then a monkey and then a frozen cryonicist
who wrote in his testament that he volunteered for the process. The
first runs of him are less than satisfactory - it was never clear that
the fine-tuning of serotonine receptors had such a subtle effect on
the mental state, something the animal models never could have told
you - but in the end, the upload appears on CNN and is forced to
answer inane questions.

The whole process, from the time when all the pieces are there to the
upload, may take several years. It is fast, but not instantaneous. A
lot of people will be involved however remotely (neuroscientists,
nanotechnologists, image processing experts, computer scientists,
cryoengineers, virtual reality designers, psychologists, animal
breeders, biochemists, ethical comittees...), even if the original
"wow, we could do an upload!" idea was from a single brilliant
graduate student in Minsk.

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