Ready to download your brain into robots?
“I think it is possible …Yes, we could download the things that we believe make ourselves so unique. Now, of course, if you’re not in that body anymore, that is definitely going to be a difference, but as far as preserving our memories, our personality, I think we could do that.”- Elon Musk recently told Insider.
Achieving immortality, or even prolonging human life has been a hot topic for centuries and will never cease to capture the human imagination. With the definition of endless life and lasting fame, immortality might seem within our reach through technological advances, such as computer memory, downloading consciousness, mind uploading, and brain-machine interfaces to mention just a few of them that were also outlined by Megan Sauer in her article Elon Musk says humans could eventually download their brains into robots — and Grimes thinks Jeff Bezos would do it. Sauer outlines Musk’s futuristic ideas on creating a space for the human spirit to live on. His ideas are not at all new since neuroscientists have been busy deciphering the mysteries of the human brain for quite some time.
What exactly is computer memory? Geeks for geeks website states that computer memory is just like the human brain, as it is used to store data/information and instructions. It can process data with both the input and output being stored here. The website also distinguishes between volatile memory used to store information based on power supply and non-volatile memory used to store information even when the power supply is off, such as ROM (Read Only Memory).
Therefore, a computer’s non-volatile memory could lead us to Musk’s statement about memories, communication, and amplifying the human brain with computers.
“Our memories are stored in our phones and computers with pictures and video,” he said. “Computers and phones amplify our ability to communicate, enabling us to do things that would have been considered magical … We’ve already amplified our human brains massively with computers.” — Elon Musk
With the computer’s magic ability to enhance our memories, maybe Musk’s idea of immortality is not too far-fetched, or is it?
“People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” — Carl Jung, Psychology and Alchemy
Although Musk’s idea of downloading consciousness seems revolutionary, Josh Bocanegra, CEO of Humai, said in 2015 that “we’re using artificial intelligence and nanotechnology to store data of conversational styles, behavioral patterns, thought processes and information about how your body functions from the inside-out. This data will be coded into multiple sensor technologies, which will be built into an artificial body with the brain of a deceased human.”
In this video about downloading the brain, which doesn’t mean plugging a cable into your head and syncing it with your phone or computer, neuroscientists posit that scanning 100 billion neurons in the human brain containing trillions of synaptic connections is a complex project for which we would need the right technology and decades to map the entire human brain.
So, are we there yet? This video will shed more light about this controversial and futuristic topic.
And if these downloading consciousness ideas seem unethical to many, some see this type of technology as a way to cheat death and preserve someone’s personality.
Definition: mind uploading also known as whole brain emulation (WBE), is the theoretical futuristic process of scanning a physical structure of the brain accurately enough to create an emulation of the mental state (including long-term memory and “self”) and transferring or copying it to a computer in a digital form.
As these technological advances are not here yet, but scientists make continued progress, is mind uploading becoming more tangible. or is it still the realm of Sci-fi novels?
For instance, Randal Koene has been working on mind uploading before 2014 and was inspired to do so after reading the 1956 Arthur C. Clarke classic The City and the Stars at the age of 13, according to the article The Neuroscientist Who Wants To Upload Humanity To A Computer by Adam Piore’s article. Clarke’s book describes a city one billion years in the future. Its residents live multiple lives and spend the time between them stored in the memory banks of a central computer capable of generating new bodies.
Koene said that brain uploading was about evolving humanity.
“What would it be like, for instance, to travel really close to the sun?” he wondered. “I got into this because I was interested in exploring not just the world, but eventually the universe. Our current substrates, our biological bodies, have been selected to live in a particular slot in space and time. But if we could get beyond that, we could tackle things we can’t currently even contemplate.”
“A passionate longing that there may be another life in which we shall be similar to what we are here below. But we do not pause to reflect that, even without waiting for that other life, in this life, after a few years we are unfaithful to what we have been, to what we wished to remain immortally.” — Marcel Proust In Search of Lost Time
One of Musk’s current start-up ventures, Neuralink, is working to develop “brain-machine interfaces” that — in Musk’s own words — could one day allow people to “store your memories as a backup and restore the memories.” But speaking with Insider, Musk emphasized that his company’s current goals are much more immediately practical.
“Neuralink in the short term is just about solving brain injuries, spinal injuries, and that kind of thing,” he said. “So for many years, Neuralink’s products will just be helpful to someone who has lost the use of their arms or legs or has just a traumatic brain injury of some kind.”
Whether downloading our brains into robots will become a reality, or just another way to stall physical death, we should strive to live meaningful, passionate, and memorable lives here and in the now, especially because if people live for a really long time, as Musk pointed out “that would cause asphyxiation of society because the truth is, most people don’t change their mind. They just die. So if they don’t die, we will be stuck with old ideas and society wouldn’t advance.”