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

Hal Finney (
Mon, 28 Dec 1998 13:19:39 -0800

Billy Brown, <>, writes:
> Hal Finney wrote:
> > You could have an "extended family" of duplicates of
> > yourself, who have all diverged to various degrees, but who cooperate,
> > play together, get together for family reunions, and generally support
> > each other..
> I suppose self-compatibility would be important if you wanted to make such a
> 'duplicate family', but I have trouble envisioning a scenario in which many
> people would actually do so. Copying personalities (presumably via an
> upload/download process) requires that we have very advanced nanotechnology,
> which in turn requires huge improvements in our ability to create complex
> systems. As a result, it should be possible to do much better than simply
> duplicating yourself.

It is not necessary to download; copying uploads should be much easier. 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.

> If uploading is possible at all, it should be feasible to re-engineer an
> uploaded mind just like any other piece of software. You could run multiple
> instances of your sensory-processing and motor-control software in parallel,
> allowing you to control more than one body at once. For better fault
> tolerance you could even turn yourself into a collective mind, with local
> processing in each body so that they can function if your data links go
> down. Spread yourself across a few hundred humanoid bodies and a similar
> number of useful robots and/or vehicles, and you become very hard to kill.
> How's that for an interesting post-human mode of existence!

It is interesting, but I question the assumption that uploading will automatically imply the ability to re-engineer minds.

Theoretically, uploading is a rather mechanical process: it is merely a matter of simulating a particular physical system (the brain/body) at a sufficient level of detail. The technical difficulties are a matter of sensing the object at that resolution, and having enough computer power to run the simulation. But perhaps these can be overcome.

Re-engineering brains requires a wholly different level of understanding. Uploading is like painting a copy of a Rembrandt. Re-engineering is like being Rembrandt. It is a creative action, not a mechanical one.

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.

True, having the ability to upload may help with our understanding of these issues, by giving access to neural function at a fine level of detail (and possibly allowing experimentation on uploads). But I think it is going to take a long time before we are able to re-engineer minds, even once we have nanotech.