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t350chunder

If you could digitise your consciousness, would you do it?

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Thought experiment du jour...

If you could digitise your consciousness, would you do it? Not asking if you would go lawnmower man and leave your body behind, or somehow migrate from the physical etc. If there was an option to 'backup' your consciousness, memories and all, is that something you would do?

Also, do you think this will ever be an option, and if so how far away are we?

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There was a Horizon programme on this recently - The Immortalist. It's still on the iPlayer. There are various experts around the world working on preserving the consciousness. Naturally, their views differ. 

Following a stroke that left me with physical weakness, I'd preserve mine if it was linked to a fully-working cyber-body like a shot. In fact if such a thing existed, I'd volunteer to be a guinea pig. 

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2 hours ago, Bruce Banner said:

It sounds like a recipe for disaster.

We live, we pass on our genes to our children, we die. That's how evolution works, mess with that at your peril.

Some people would argue that we've messed with that throughout our history. That's why it's routine instead of very lucky to make it through childhood. The question is should you draw the line somewhere. Of course I'll say "yes".

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Mind reading is starting to be possible with fMRI.

People have predicted that the mind upload will be possible by 2030.

Thing is, if you could digitalise your mind then why stop doing it once. I would do it 100x and create an army of Gigantic Purple Slug robots that would obey my commands and rule the world.

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1 hour ago, Gigantic Purple Slug said:

Mind reading is starting to be possible with fMRI.

People have predicted that the mind upload will be possible by 2030.

Thing is, if you could digitalise your mind then why stop doing it once. I would do it 100x and create an army of Gigantic Purple Slug robots that would obey my commands and rule the world.

Would millions of "people" who all think like you be better or worse than a vast variety of millions of people? It might prove to be a harsh mirror. 

Edit to add: I'm no longer subject to mod approval. Thanks, I guess.

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1 hour ago, Gigantic Purple Slug said:

Mind reading is starting to be possible with fMRI.

People have predicted that the mind upload will be possible by 2030.

Thing is, if you could digitalise your mind then why stop doing it once. I would do it 100x and create an army of Gigantic Purple Slug robots that would obey my commands and rule the world.

Unless you were bipolar.

Or you could mix and match, 100 warriors, all...  33% GPS, 33% Tony Blair, 33% Kim Jong Un and 1% David Cameron.

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Even if you didn't want to, you could do it and then edit the downloaded consciousness such that that version did want to be downloaded.  Win win.

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Your conciousness would become immortal, so time would become meaningless. You could travel to different galaxies easily.

Also, the resources you would use would become minimal, so you could literally have trillions of conciousnesses on the planet rather than the few billion we have at the moment.

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13 minutes ago, Gigantic Purple Slug said:

Your conciousness would become immortal, so time would become meaningless. You could travel to different galaxies easily.

Also, the resources you would use would become minimal, so you could literally have trillions of conciousnesses on the planet rather than the few billion we have at the moment.

Not with the way things are currently going. A computer capable of storing and running an uploaded conciousness will require an awful lot of power. Maybe that'll change but you're heading off into "anything goes" territory there.

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6 minutes ago, Riedquat said:

Not with the way things are currently going. A computer capable of storing and running an uploaded conciousness will require an awful lot of power. Maybe that'll change but you're heading off into "anything goes" territory there.

Human brains need about 20W of power to run don't they ? So to emulate that is not violating any physical laws. Since brains are 20% of the total energy consumption we could run 5x as many people for the same amount of energy. 

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3 hours ago, Gigantic Purple Slug said:

Human brains need about 20W of power to run don't they ? So to emulate that is not violating any physical laws. Since brains are 20% of the total energy consumption we could run 5x as many people for the same amount of energy. 

Not any physical laws, no, but a more general-purpose machine (i.e. something that isn't just building a direct physical copy of the brain) can't be as efficient. Whilst uploading brains is science fiction (of the sort that might be theoretically possible), a computer capable of not needing a huge amount of power is to do it is probably at about the same level of fiction. So anyone's guess really.

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3 hours ago, Gigantic Purple Slug said:

Human brains need about 20W of power to run don't they ? So to emulate that is not violating any physical laws. Since brains are 20% of the total energy consumption we could run 5x as many people for the same amount of energy. 

The downloaded consciousness of poor people could be run at slower than real-time -- say, a 30 day wake/sleep cycle.  So they'd only consume a few % of the power of a real brain.  The down side is it would take them days to 'watch' each episode of Eastenders/Corrie, and they'd not be able to keep up to date.  Their downloaded consciousnesses would spend all their spare time hassling their (living) descendants for the extra cash to speed up their processing so that they could keep up.  It would surely be a disaster.

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Life would be pretty boring for your digital version. They can't eat, have sex, go anywhere etc. Probably get depressed.

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6 hours ago, Dorkins said:

Life would be pretty boring for your digital version. They can't eat, have sex, go anywhere etc. Probably get depressed.

"The first ten million years were the worst. And the second ten million: they were the worst, too. The third ten million I didn’t enjoy at all. After that, I went into a bit of a decline. ” –Marvin, the Paranoid Android

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15 hours ago, Dorkins said:

Life would be pretty boring for your digital version. They can't eat, have sex, go anywhere etc. Probably get depressed.

But you could adjust the digitised version to like being celibate, etc.  You could make it love sitting in its virtual living room watching old movies.

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2 hours ago, dgul said:

But you could adjust the digitised version to like being celibate, etc.  You could make it love sitting in its virtual living room watching old movies.

This is psychopathic, like saying you're going to take a drill to somebody's skull so they won't want to leave the house anymore.

A conscious mind is a conscious mind, just because it's running on silicon instead of fat and salt water doesn't make it ethical to play around with it to suit your whims.

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9 hours ago, Dorkins said:

This is psychopathic, like saying you're going to take a drill to somebody's skull so they won't want to leave the house anymore.

A conscious mind is a conscious mind, just because it's running on silicon instead of fat and salt water doesn't make it ethical to play around with it to suit your whims.

In what way would it be different ethically compared with shoving lithium or Prozac into the wet conscious mind to make it more happy with living in a sexless marriage, to be happy with a boring job, and to be fully entertained by watching 'Britain's got Talent'?

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9 minutes ago, dgul said:

In what way would it be different ethically compared with shoving lithium or Prozac into the wet conscious mind to make it more happy with living in a sexless marriage, to be happy with a boring job, and to be fully entertained by watching 'Britain's got Talent'?

Medication can only be prescribed by a licensed doctor and requires informed consent from the patient.

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2 hours ago, Dorkins said:

Medication can only be prescribed by a licensed doctor and requires informed consent from the patient.

Okay.  So the reprogramming would be done by a licensed cyberpsychiatrist after an in depth consultation with the downloaded consciousness about how unhappy they are.

At least, if they were unhappy with their gender it could just be changed by altering an environment variable from M to F (or vice versa).

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