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Under the laws of physics is it possible that our consciousness could be downloaded onto a digital substrate..?

And could the digital substrate, world, simulation or surroundings be just as real as the world we live in and then could we live for an indefinite period of time on that digital substrate. Could we make the surroundings just like say Sims. You know the game Sims. Anyway what do the laws of biology and physics have to say about this proposition. I hope it happens personally. And thank you for your contributions in advance, Bryce.

5 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t think so it could happen. If it would be like we would live for indefinite period then the total world be a big mess! Any how its quite interesting!

  2. It might be possible one day if we can figure out how to map the entire human brain, but that’s unlikely. There are SO many synapses and such complicated wiring in the brain that it’s a monumental task. Add to that the fact that the digital substrate would have to allow for change and learning in the same way our brains function and you’ve got quite a large request on your hands, especially considering that we haven’t been able to create an artificially intelligent computer yet.

  3. Yes.
    Consciousness, memories and personality is reducible to neurons and the connections between them, so, with enough information about how the brain is ‘wired’, you could make a dynamic simulation of a human brain which works in exactly the same way.
    You could also feed false sensory data in through the brain-simulation’s inputs, analyse its outputs and adjust the inputs to match. In principle, it is possible for a virtual world to be created which is as rich as the real world and indistinguishable from it, unless you look extremely closely.
    Though some of the premise was nonsense, the virtual world depicted in The Matrix could be quite close to this.
    However, this would only be a copy of your mind, rather than you yourself. This can be demonstrated quite easily by the knowledge that the biological you and the simulated you could both coexist, making it impossible for the simulation to be ‘you’.
    However, if you perform a gradual process of replacement rather than do it all at once, then you could concievably ‘migrate’ to a nonbiological substrate without invoking copy/move questions. This could be done in the following way.
    Take a neuron, map out its connections and observe how it interacts with other neurons. Replace the neuron with a nanorobot that relays signals to and from a computer simulation of that neuron. Repeat for entire brain.
    In this approach, the stream of consciousness is never interrupted, and there is always some material continuity between the various states.
    Have a look at Wikipedia’s page on mind uploading for more information:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_uploading
    And see the layperson’s roadmap to whole-brain emulation:
    http://www.philosophy.ox.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/3853/brain-emulation-roadmap-report.pdf

  4. In theory, yes. In practice, who knows?
    The brain basically works by electric signals firing through neurons. With sufficiently advanced technology, you could build an artificial version and translate a human brain into it. The most likely way this would be done without killing the original is replace the neurons with artificial ones one at a time.
    Once that was done, simulated information could be fed in, just like the sims. Scientists already have some idea how to do this for human brains (we can already make it work to some extent for ears, and scientists want to do it for eyes next). Eventually, who knows what we could do?
    Of course, right now we can’t do it, but scientists are optimistic. If we can build false nerves for eyes and ears, a brain is just a more complicated setup. It will take a while, but like everything, chances are we’ll get there eventually.

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