Re: Uploaded memories

Anders Sandberg (
08 Dec 1999 15:34:39 +0100

"Kate Riley" <> writes:

> Concerning uploaded individuals. Considering that such a being would,
> presumably, be immortal, and considering that such a being would wish to
> retain all of its memories (and probably with more clarity than is afforded
> by our protein brains, which are notorious for storing memories in a
> somewhat fuzzy and incomplete manner), there would seem to be some concern
> about space. Certainly my computer could not hold even a significant
> fraction of my memories. Now, admittedly, my brain is comparatively small,
> and seems to do alright, but most, if not all, of us have witnessed the loss
> of memories which tends to occur in the later years of a person's life,
> which results partially from the fact that there is a limited space capacity
> for memories. One would want to retain all memories, and therefore would
> want upgrades, spare hard drives, if you will. Is this a concern?

First, having a fuzzy and incomplete memory isn't a complete drawback. It is harder to make generalisations or categorise if you have a very crisp memory. A good solution might be to have several memory systems, one which is simply a recording of experience, one which is suitably fuzzy and maybe some in-between or acting as remembrance agents. "Hmm, I think I have hear something about it... <agents search stored memories and retrieve them as well as linked concepts>. Aha! Now I remember..."

The amount of memory inside a human mind is large, although it is highly distributed and not very well compressed. I would estimate the amount of information in our neural nets to 10^15 bits or so. Once uploading is possible, then we obviously have memory storage of that order of magnitude, so getting double that amount of memory storage would likely be affordable and last at least a few decades of subjective experience.

In the long run storage will always be scarce because it is so easy to fill up, so there will likely be an immense demand for more. Compuforming the moon into storage is just the start, I think. But unless people start to copy themselves as crazy, memories might just be a small fraction of the whole dataspace.

> Is it realistic to expect resources to hold out?

There is enough space for huge populations of uploads in the solar system, and if they are cautious about using resources there will likely be enough memory space for extremely long lifetimes. Resources are likely a problem on very long timescales, but not short ones like mere centuries or millenia.

> How many people are expected to ultimately be uploaded?

Once the technology is proven and works, I would expect a sizeable fraction of humanity to eventually upload. There might develop a two-stage lifecycle (as was suggested by Bernal in the 30's) of a biological "childhood" and a cybernetic mature existence as an upload. In any case, the number would start among the billions and might grow tremendously later. The biggest growth might be copying among uploads.

"Oh, no! Not *another* Anders again!"

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