CGSC 1001 Lecture 24: Mind Uploading and the future of cognitive science
LECTURE 24: Mind Uploading and the future of cognitive science
Facing up to our own mortality
• We are all mortal beings.
• Modern attempts to stave off mortality
• Stem cell research in mice
• Telomerase research in mice
• Cold saline resuscitation
• Printing 3-D organs
• How might cognitive science help?
• Itsikov’s “2045 initiative”
• Dr. Hiroshi Ishiguro’s robot avatar (“The Geminoid”)
• BCI: Interface allowing for a direct communication pathway between the brain and a computer
What is Mind Uploading?
• The process of uploading a structural model of a human brain to a computer.
• Three kinds (Chalmers 2010)
• Destructive uploading
• Gradual uploading
• Non-destructive uploading
Mind Uploading: Three questions
• Is mind uploading really possible?
• Will an uploaded version of “you” be conscious? • Will it really be you?
Is mind uploading really possible?
• (Recall) Neurons: Brain cells that communicate with other brain cells by sending electrical
signals across synapses.
• What we need is a full model of all 86 billion neurons and the many connections between them.
• Connectome: wiring diagram or map of all synaptic connections between neurons in human
• Current projects aiming to achieve this:
• Human Connectome Project
• The BRAIN initiative
• Prof. Bobby Kashturi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKyO_AB7aMc How close are we to building a connectome?
• According to some: Not very…
• Kenneth Miller (2015): “The current best achievement was determining the connections in a tiny
piece of brain tissue containing 1,700 synapses; the human brain has more than a hundred
billion times that number of synapses. While progress is swift, no one has any realistic estimate
of how long it will take to arrive at brain-size connectomes. (My wild guess: centuries.)”
Even if we do build one…
• Determining what connections there are is just one piece of the puzzle.
• Leaves out the following: • differences in strength of synaptic connections over time
• differences in sensitivity of individual neurons to inputs as well as reliability and speed
of their outputs.
• The adaptation that neurons exhibit in light of the electrical and chemical reactions that
• “To reconstruct a mind, perhaps one would not need to replicate every molecular detail; given
enough structure, the rest might be self-correcting. But an extraordinarily deep level of detail
would be required, not only to characterize the connectome but also to understand how the