A design to live forever
It is a plan taken straight from the pages of a science fiction novel - and potentially a way to exist forever.
A San Francisco inventor has revealed plans for a system to upload his brain to a computer. He hopes to be able to replicate the human brain as a mechanical system.
Randal Koene says the key to this is the SIM - a 'Substrate-Independent Mind.'
By mapping the brain, reducing its activity to computations, and reproducing those computations in code, Koene argued, humans could live indefinitely, emulated by silicon.
'When I say emulation, you should think of it, for example, in the same sense as emulating a Macintosh on a PC,' he told a recent San Francisco conference.
'It's kind of like platform-independent code.'
The thing that makes all of this possible is a 'Substrate-Independent Mind.'
This, according to Koene, is not merely an artificial intelligence, but a human mind downloaded to a computer.
Neuroscientists are 99.9% percent convinced that the brain is a mechanism, he says.
It is something that computes, something that carries out functions. If you can figure out how it works, you can build a replacement for it.
'The idea that you can take a small piece of the brain and build a replica for it is very mainstream and well understood,' he recently told Vice.
'Why not do that with the whole brain? And then why not upload that to a computer so that we can process more data and store it better, the way a computer does, organizing thoughts into folders that we can access whenever we choose?
He believes that, using his system, we will be able to inhabit other worlds, and even virtual ones.
'It would be interesting to inhabit a more virtual world.
'Or perhaps bodies that aren't built to survive in this environment, but somewhere else, like space.'
He has set up an organisation, carboncopies to work on the technical and ethical issues around the project.
'We support practical approaches toward what we descriptively term “advanced substrate-independent minds (ASIM), i.e. transferring mind functions from the biological substrate to another substrate on which those functions can be performed,' it says.
'Carboncopies initially takes a technology agnostic stance.
We organise workshops and conferences where interested parties can exchange ideas, network with others, and keep updated on the latest developments in the field'.