BASICS: Uploads (was Re: Probable naive questions on this Uploading thing)

Mark Grant (
Sun, 14 Sep 1997 15:50:45 +0000

On Sat, 13 Sep 1997, Laws, David wrote:

> 1) Would an individual be uploaded to a centralized 'net' or a private
> one?

That would probably depend on you. Either is possible.

> Would there be a benefit in either? If centralized how would
> 'you' affect 'me'?

In a private system you'd be acting just like a human today; you'd
'think' inside your physical body and send messages out over the net to
other entities. To travel you'd have to move your physical body. On a
centralized system your software would be able to travel from place to
place at the speed of light, *but* other people or AIs could potentially
corrupt the software or copy it and analyse you. This is why I suspect
that private hardware will be more common, at least for rich AIs.

> 2) Have security and backups been researched? Could someone 'pull the
> plug' and delete everyone?

In theory, yes. But you'd have backups which could be used to restore you,
and on a centralized system you could jump from one machine to another
which had a more reliable power source. A private system could have all
the physical security you desired, and in an emergency you could still
copy your software to another machine before yours was shut down.

> Could a virus be introduced to
> control/corrupt/erase an uploaded individual?

Yep, just as you could inject a human with the HIV virus today. However,
AIs would probably have better 'immune systems' than humans, since they
wouldn't need to run software that they downloaded. Of course a memetic
virus is a real possibility, particularly if an attacking AI has been able
to analyse your software to look for security holes.

> 3) Since 'thought' (as far as I can remember) is somewhat determined by
> protein deposits at specific neurons (changing the course to the next
> neuron I suppose) wouldn't everyone in a central 'net' then think alike?

No, because they'd all be running different software.

> 4) Do emotion and the senses determine how one thinks? I know my mood
> affects my thought processes and certain smells or sounds do also. How
> will this be handled in a 'net'?

Probably, but emotions would/could be included as part of your uploaded
software. If you think computers can't have 'emotions' then you've
probably been watching too many bad SF shows.

> 5) If there would be no emotion I wouldn't 'care' if I were thinking or
> not. Would I cease to exist?

You'll only find the answer to that question when you upload ;-).


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