Life as an Upload

Discussion in 'Intelligence & Machines' started by Cris, Mar 29, 2001.

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  1. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member



    Ok great stuff.

    I think you are assuming that there can only be ONE of you and that somehow you will always be unique. I.e. there is something within you that says this is you and you alone and that this thing will be you wherever you are. This is more like the religious concept of a soul or spirit, and I’m not sure if you are that way inclined, or believe such a thing. But from the perspective of mind uploading research there is no such thing as a soul. To be more precise mind uploading supports the philosophy of Materialism (note upper case M). Do not confuse this with greed or possessiveness. Materialism states that everything is material, and there are no supernatural components. Compare this with the philosophy of Dualism, where a person is considered to comprise of two parts, one is the physical body and the other is the spirit or soul. Dualism is a typical religious belief.

    Within the mind uploading paradigm the brain is the mind and the consciousness. In this sense if one is able to accurately duplicate the neural and chemical messaging mechanisms that comprise the organic brain, into an alternative substrate, e.g. a silicon based computer, then the mind and/or consciousness (choose whichever term you prefer) has also been duplicated. Note that I say ‘duplicate’ and not ‘transfer’. At the instant the upload has completed and assuming the original organic brain is still functioning then YOU will exist in two places at the same time.

    Perhaps it might be easier if you think of your current self as simply an organic machine. And like any machine we are proposing that we make an identical duplicate. There would now exist two identical equally capable machines in every respect. There would now be two of you.

    Now you (both of you) have a choice. Do you want both to survive or should one die? This is really a decision that should be made before an upload process. This whole issue raises some unique philosophical, and ethical questions.

    From a personal perspective I do not want to survive as a biological form but want to evolve into something superior. I would not want my biological form to survive the upload process. A lethal injection by my bio self would be the most suitable solution, the alternative would be to ask my non-bio self to kill my bio version but that would mean that I begin my new life as the murderer of myself – neat conundrum huh?

    So, Alice, are you less confused now?

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  3. BrainDrain Registered Member

    I see ... BUT

    I can understand all of this, and no, I'm not religious. But I do not wish to die... that's the thing. As an atheist, I would rather not experience nothingness... (but that's a WHOLE other post. haha) Rather than having a copy of me for everyone else to enjoy when I'm gone, I want to live ... myself. I guess the more viable alternative for me would be implants (brain, not breast, hehe). Perhaps memory chips and other upgrades could be applied to my existing brain so that I may continue to exist, but in a "better" form. Perhaps a completely mechanical body with my brain. I know, this alternative does not offer immortality, since my brain tissue would eventually degrade, but I also would not have to die so that my copy can represent me.

    I love this place, by the way! Finally, a community of intellectuals with which I can discuss the future of the human race. =)
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  5. ripleofdeath Registered Senior Member

    hey all
    criss- what about it not a defining point of self and therefore of the enviroment to be percieved and thus all different time zones/replicas/robotic life support systems/electro bio chemical temp storage units....blah blah on and on-
    be of a specific nature of perception?
    thus one major defining difference of self and "other"......
    please continue your thoughts on the topic.

    groove on all
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  7. wet1 Wanderer Registered Senior Member

    ...continuing on

    If you like then stay around a while. It's really a great place with some fantastic people here. This community is really a cool place and the exposure you get to ideas is simply awesome!

    I had said in an earlier post that I simply wasn’t ready. I had meant ready for the acceptance of such to be possible and perhaps a reality. Those words were truer than I realized at the time. This is not a choice I would make unless I was on the death bed and didn’t have long (picture to mind is hanging by fingernails over the cliff side with 200-300 foot drop and fingers slipping with impending realization of mortality and doom).

    And here’s Chris who would embrace such with open arms, amazing. The heights of the human spirit. One who would self-sacrifice himself so that another would live? It would not be Chris, the biologic entity, which would survive. The Chris who now knows life and everyday would cease to exist. And here lies the root of the problem. I do not think that many would embrace such willingly and readily. For if you can’t take it with you then ain’t much sense in going.

    Now if these newly made machines with newfound awareness were shipped off to some planet or moon for development with a one way trip would that not solve the necessity for the original to perish? You see, I really have a problem with this concept that the master copy has to go. And I can foresee that there would be the Cain/Able dilemma should one not perish. This sounds like a can of worms better left unopened, much the same as human cloning.

    I am sure that the process would have to be much tested and scrutinized before releasing this on the general public. I don’t believe that Joe Blow would even consider such as anything worth checking into. (If it meant his death on the spot of compeletion). I mean, would you the average reader consider such unless you were looking for a suicide method?

    Something would walk away, to all intents and purposes you, but it wouldn't be you if you are dead!
    Last edited: May 31, 2001
  8. BrainDrain Registered Member

    Re: ...continuing on

    Right! This is the part that has been making me wary of the whole process. If one's conciousness could be transferred rather than just copied into a machine, I could see the feasibility. But dying so that a mechanical version of you can live on forever? No thank you, I'll pass. ;-)
  9. wet1 Wanderer Registered Senior Member

    As howardstern

    once put it to me...

    Damn!!!!!!!!! wet1 you read it before I had finished proof-reading it.

    You're to fast for me BrainDrain! But I'm glad you responded.
  10. Chagur .Seeker. Registered Senior Member

    Ah ... duh ...

    Wouldn't the downloading (uploading?) of 'self' amount to a 'snapshot' of what you were at the moment of transfer?

    And what sensory inputs, what awareness would your electronic environment provide for your electronic self to experience?

    No thank you. I don't relish the thought of possibly being placed in a sort of eternal limbo.
  11. wet1 Wanderer Registered Senior Member


    Oh, I quite agree. I had poked a little at it earlier in the thread. I too, seem not to relish this idea in it's present concept.

    It's not that I believe that such will never come. Rather that it is hard to grasp and accept. Maybe I'm just not flexiable enough to make the jump. I suspect that there would many another who would have the same problem. At it's conception there would probably a cult of such as you and I who would not embrace it.

    Chris had touched around the idea of the snapshot in his statements. He also made mention of the experience factor changing the original much the same as if happened to you or I. And that change in experience from the original would eventally add up to someone else with differing views depending on how far away from the original snapshot.

    And the electronic sensory input is another problem already hit on. Who says that it is compatable with what the mind now precieves as reality?
  12. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

    Think some more


    Perhaps I am missing something here, or I am just being dense, but I’m having trouble understanding your perspective. There is also the possibility that I have had several years to consider these issues and no longer have any problems with the concepts. Perhaps you just need longer to consider. The concept is fairly radical.

    You will not die. If the upload goes smoothly, and I suspect that there will be adequate psychiatrists around to ensure you awaken in a natural and pleasant manner, then all you should experience is an awareness of your existence, with probably a sharper and faster grasp of your surroundings and memories of the recent upload decisions. Probably the best decision was to have your biological body anaesthetized before the upload process. It still belongs to you but it is no longer aware of the world. Laws or ethical guidelines governing new identities and appropriate disposal of unwanted biological shells will need to be created. But as an upload you will be very much alive and probably with a significant increase in intelligence. You may have even elected for enhanced senses in your new non-bio shell.

    So what have you become? Well if you were homosapien then we can say that an upload is a robosapien. Or in other words you will have evolved into an advanced life form, but you will still be YOU.

    And don’t think of robots as being mindless clumsy automatons. Honda revealed recently its new humanoid robot. It can walk very smoothly, negotiate stairs and obstacles, and can turn at angles and can move quite gracefully. This was the result of 20 years of research. And you should be aware of the geometric rate of technological progress, and realize that in another 20 years such a robot may well be outwardly indistinguishable from a biological human.

    The KQED PBS channel here in Silicon Valley showed an excellent documentary late last week titled ‘Beyond Human’ and told the story of the robot and gave glimpses of the research into bio-mechanical augmentation that is available and soon to be available and then gave a final glimpse of the merger between man and machine. I do not know whether uploading as I have visualized and portrayed it in this forum will occur in this fashion, perhaps it will be a gradual process as you imply, but it does seem very clear to me that the path has already been chosen and that we are very likely to evolve into more advanced life forms by means of advanced technology, and I strongly suspect much sooner than anyone realizes.

    We all want to live if we are truly honest with ourselves. The creation of religious concepts and mythologies demonstrates this very well. Faced with the past inevitability of death we created cushions for ourselves and convinced ourselves that an afterlife awaits us when we die. But now we are on the verge of being able to solve the death problem in a very real manner.

    Hope this helps a little more.

  13. Boris Senior Member Registered Senior Member

    To die. To sleep, perchance to dream...

    Nobody wants to die. However, that fate is arguably and demonstrably inevitable.

    If you are an atheist, you know that the conscious entity of "you" existing currently will simply blink out of existence upon death. Thus your entire life as a sentient lifeform can be summed up as nothing, followed by a brief period of complex information processing, followed by nothing. Zooming out from the petty details and minutiae of human lives, on geological time scales it really begins to matter not whether you managed to live an extra year or two. In the final analysis you only continue to exist inasmuch as the impact you managed to make on the world around you -- i.e. you "exist" through those changes in the flow of universal information that originated with you and outlasted you. However, zooming out even farther your life altogether ceases to have any meaning or point whatsoever, since the farther the universe progresses from the instant at which you last perceived it, the less of your impact on it will be preserved against the noise of time. Your ever-decaying "signal" will eventually be completely drowned in this "noise", and will vanish forever below the threshold of significance.

    In light of such large-scale and long-term considerations, then, the argument of "I want to keep on living as a degenerating cell colony for a couple more years" looses meaning. An "upload" of the information that is your mind at any particular instant into an easily repairable, fault-tolerant container upstages your early demise somewhat.

    There are actually several possible scenarios I can imagine for an upload. One is that the person is uploaded while still alive. Another is a post-mortem upload. A third would be a blend of the two, as I shall explain.

    First, let's consider what might be called an ex vivo upload -- you are uploaded while still alive. Of course the subjective perception of "you" will remain within the cell-based encoding after the upload (assuming the body is not destroyed by the process.) However that very same, identical "you" will also spring into existence within the upload shell. Informationally, the two of you will be exact replicas of each other at the instant when the upload is completed, and both of "you" will feel equally genuine and whole. At that point there is no reason for the biological copy to die, it can continue to live out its life normally and eventually perish as it was destined to. This much it would have done even if there weren't any upload. However, an upload compensates for the loss inherent in death, by ensuring that the precious information comprising the mind that you accumulated over your lifetime does not just dissolve into nothingness. Naturally, the later in life the upload occurs, the more of your life experiences and evolution of personality will end up outliving your biological body.

    In the second case (which might be called ex necro), you either did not live to see the age of uploading unfold, or your death was so sudden that an upload could not occur in time. Assuming that following death your brain is well-preserved, it should be possible to copy your dead brain into an upload shell and, with minor alterations to compensate for any necrosis, you would be jump-started and in effect will wake up in your new body. This comes much closer to the "transfer" that many could find much more preferable to "copying" -- but only superficially since the end-result is still essentially the same: the uploaded information survives while the biolobical hard-copy of the information disintegrates. The difference is that the upload will contain the entirety of your life experiences, even including the actual memory of your biological death. Thus, such an upload might be thought more "complete" and thus be more satisfying in yet another way.

    However, the ex necro approach has a downside: if it should be that you live out your life naturally and end up dying of old age, then it will be true enough that in the course of your aging you forgot (lost) a great deal of the information from your past life experiences. So, both methods suffer from fractional information recovery. I should note that the ex necro method may be technologically easier to implement, since the ex vivo method requires a nondestructive brain scan, thereby imposing additional constraints on the technology.

    Perhaps an optimal arrangement will be a combination of the two methods. In other words, you undergo an upload at a young age, as a child -- and then continue to upload periodically (say every year) until you die. Following your death, a final ex necro upload is made. At this point, all of your uploaded "snapshots" are synchronized and reconciled against each other, in essense merging all of your memories, personality traits, and life experiences into a seamless tapestry. Such post-processing will require detailed understanding of the information encoded in the brain's structure, and will require massive computational power. The end result will not exactly be "you" at any instant in your past life -- but rather a blend of "you" through your entire lifespan. The sentient entity that emerges will have vividly all of your memories from childhood to death, it will embody all of your naivete and all of your wisdom, all of your energy and all of your apathy, all of your knowledge, all of your skills, all of your habits good and bad, all at the same time. It will be a "rebirth" of sorts, but into what you might call a "higher" awareness of yourself -- an awareness more exquisite than was ever experienced by your biological predecessor.

    Returning back to the original theme of meaning in life, even a marvellous rebirth through uploading does not necessarily in itself make much of a difference. Eventually, for all we know, the universe might die a frigid thermodynamic death, and all of the intelligence that survives until then would be forced to perish together with this ultimate shell. On the other hand, an upload vastly expands the time scale over which the individual sentience persists. This leaves open a door to various remote possibilities mostly beyond the wildest imaginings of the modern day. For example, at some point in the future (however remote) a way might be discovered for information originating in this universe to transcend it -- resulting essentially in another kind of upload, but this time it would be an information transfer that spans boundaries between realities in addition to physical encodings. At any rate, externalizing the self into a flexible, extensible, upgradeable and replaceable architecture enables a gigantic leap, a monumental dislocation in the ponderous evolution of intelligence. The uploads will no longer be limited by the physiological constraints of a particular technological implementation; their perceptive and cognitive capabilities will progress at an ever-increasing speed of thought. They will see into the corners of the universe that a mundane human mind is incapable of even approaching due to sheer complexity overload. And so, they will be overwhelmingly better poised for conceiving and taking the next step -- whatever it may be.

    As it happens, I tend to see the biological life as only a precursor, not an end result, in the flow of information. We are here to serve as a bootstrap mechanism for the next stage; we are the here and now from which the future takes form.
  14. wet1 Wanderer Registered Senior Member

    That is exactly it. I am indeed having problems laying my hand upon this concept. I see the words, read them, but on the way to comprehending them something disconnects and hangs up.

    Please expand upon this download/upload idea. Because right now it just doesn't add up. I understand that there are benefits to the end result but I'm very used to seeing and experiencing the world as I now do. This is so foreign to my reality that it just doesn't connect.
  15. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

    No problem


    A note on terminology: Downloading is usually the transfer of some information from something large to something smaller. Typically you would download software from a major server to your PC, for example.

    Uploading is clearly the opposite of downloading, but for this forum the assumption is that your brain patterns are being transferred into something larger and more powerful. This is one of the attractions of being uploaded – more memory and faster processing power (higher intelligence).

    At any instant in time you are a snapshot. But the upload scanning process will be detecting primarily neural connections and the state of chemical messages, hormones, synapses etc. It is these connections and chemical states that form everything about you in terms of memories, emotions, personality etc. Once this data has been uploaded and you have been activated then the software of the new substrate will continue from the moment that the scanning process had started. It would be as if a freeze frame had occurred in your life, and the play button pressed again.

    You would be able to exist in the real world and the sensory information would come from electronic sensors equal if not more powerful than current biological sensors. We already have advanced vision systems but at present they lack the intelligence to interpret the images, they have no brain behind them, an uploaded brain will provide all the interpretive power needed, similarly with all the other electronic sensor devices.

  16. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member


    Many thanks. Nice post.

    I had not considerd the idea of taking uploaded images throuhgout a lifetime and attempting to merge them. Intriguing concept. Thankyou for taking me to a higher level of consideration.

  17. Boris Senior Member Registered Senior Member

    Destructive uploads

    One thing I have against the idea that you undergo an upload while still alive and in such a manner that it destroys your brain: when something goes wrong with the process, for whatever reason, you are dead.

    Having this happen after you died is not as big of an issue, though still a worry.

    On the other hand, a non-destructive upload makes a copy of you without destroying the biological form, and then you face issues with murder/suicide. I was pondering this when the idea hit me: why not have the cake and eat it too? The upload doesn't need to be activated immediately after the procedure is complete; indeed it can serve merely as a snapshot of your current state, to be integrated with other snapshots later when you die of natural causes. Plus, you get the added bonus of having had a complete human life from start to end, which might make your transition easier and also perhaps your subsequent existence richer.

    Just a thought...

    P.S. this might also be a far more acceptable route for many people; somehow it's more "natural" (hard to believe but I'm at a loss for words trying to express my actual sentiment toward it, so "natural" would just have to do...)
  18. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

    More info


    Quick note on names – I’m Cris not Chris. Cris is actually my real name. However, I am used to people inserting the H, so no big deal.

    As for further explanations: Take a look at the forum introduction topic and read my original post. There are some links there that lead you to actual research and some of the original ideas of mind uploading.

    If that doesn’t help, then let me know and I’ll have another go.

    Have fun, and thanks for the interest.
  19. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member



    I have several issues with continuing with a ‘natural’ biological existence after an upload snapshot.

    1. Bio research may in fact solve the issues of the aging process giving the bio form potentially limitless life spans. This in itself would be an interesting development. But it would prevent us moving forward with rapid advances in intelligence.
    2. There is the issue that AI machines will outpace the bio-humans. We need to transfer to uploaded states quickly so we can compete with AI.
    3. Having recently seen my father die after years of debilitation illnesses does not sit well with allowing my bio version suffer a similar fate.
    4. I really do see the robo-shell form having many advantages over the bio version. I would hate to have to stay as a bio-form while my advanced uploaded replica waits for me to die.

    Dying from natural causes is no fun, and I would spare myself the pains and suffering expected from a natural bio life if I possibly can.

  20. BrainDrain Registered Member

    Okay, one last time then I'm going to bed...

    So you are assuming that, when you "upload" your mind to the machine, before the upload you will be seeing the world through your organic eyes, and afterwards, you will be inside the machine, seeing through mechanical sensors. In other words, the process is more of a transferrence of consciousness and not merely a copying. The conceptual problem I am having is a matter of perception. Will you perceive yourself to be in your human body at one point, and suddenly inside the machine? Or will your perceptions end at the moment of upload, and a new being be created that is exactly like you and processes information as you would have because it has an identical brain? I am so tired I can barely form coherent sentences now, but I must post this before bed or else I'll have nightmares of little mechanical brains dancing around in my head. (There is some irony somewhere in that statement.) This is an intriguing topic... I trust the debate will still be raging when I get home tomorrow afternoon. Thanks for attempting to answer me. =) G'night.
  21. Rambler Senior Member Registered Senior Member

    Hi All

    I didn't get a chance to read all of the above posts so forgive me if this has already been discussed.


    Ok I'm with BD on this one, the upload would not be you it would be a copy.

    IF after the upload was completed BOTH the artificial and bio brains could share their consciousness i.e. all thoughts happen simultaneously on both brains then fine the mind upload would not result in the death of the original consciousness....Infact you'd have to be aware of yourself as both bio and artifical... living your life simultaneosly as computer and man. So if the redundant bio you died you'd still be OK.

    However if after the upload both brains only shared memories and characteristics then the artifical brain is a new "identity" a new life if you like...not you just something that is very closley BASED on you. So after your death you would not all of a sudden wake up as a computer and say"wooh that death thing is overated" and just continue'd be dead a new life would pick up where you left what you have done is not reached imortality but passed on your knowledge to a knew being....and really when you look at it you can do that today, just have a child and teach it well.

    I'm putting my eggs in the nanotech, fix your bio body basket...that is a more comfortable way to cheat death...well for me anyway. Mind uploads would be a neat way of creating a super intelligent human based mind....
  22. Plato Registered Senior Member


    Forgive me if a little smile comes to my face if I see you talking about very simple systems.
    Let me point you for example to an other very simple system like a pendulum, would it surprise you if I told you that there is exists no exact solution to its equation of motion ?
    There is this strange thing involved called non linearity : tiny changes in the begin variables result in big changes in the end results.
    What makes you thing that the components of the brain will be immune to this feature ?

    My personal thoughts about organisms is that they rely very much on this phenomenon cause it gives them the ability to be flexible and respond to changes in their environment in order to survive. Computers as they exist today do not make use of this, they are subject to it but it is surpressed for it is looked upon as noise, which could result to error.
    In a way this is normal since we don't want to have a different result each time we do the same kind of procedure on it. We want reproducable and reliable behaviour from our computer. A mind however needs a very different kind of carrier and this makes me put some question marks behind the feasability to make a truthfull and exact copy of our hardware into a different carrier.
    We will need to make an infinitly exact copy of a neuron in order to overcome the non linearity phenomenon, however this is forbidden by quantum mechanics because of the uncertainty principle. So your copy will always be very similar but never exactly the same, very much like clones have the same genetic information but may still become very different individuals.
    So I'm sorry to say that a transition from biological to mechanical for the same individual will be an illusion.
    You will wake up and find yourself still in your body while a similar kind of individual will be made and will be in effect an Artificial Intelligence. Talking about a rough wake up call...

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  23. ripleofdeath Registered Senior Member

    hey all
    chagur- i syperthise with your difficulty in the western mind>
    i am a westerner

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    just think of the ego intraverting to be retrospective of all life.
    unlike the eastern bounce/reflection off all life(other animals)
    this i see to be one of the major diffs!

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    i hope i havnt offended anyone?

    i tend to agree with the idea of plato in regard to the concept.
    though i am starting to study concepts of bi location>this i believe cannot be interpreted other than soul conceusness.
    one thought that i see as startlingly self evident is that scientists
    have yet to design a computer that can compete with a human on a psychological level!
    u cant count chess because that is maths!
    i personaly cant image the magnatude of pain involved in living
    in the knoledge that i cannot ever again lay naked with a girlfriend
    lightly tracing my hand over her soft skin,firing my senses into overload while we stare into eachothers eyesmerging our thoughts as one conseusness!(to know love and trust...sighhh...)
    then to be thinking that while in a mechanical robot shell????????

    groove on all

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