If you could upload your brain into a computer and “live forever”, would you?

You may have to answer that question one day.

Your body degenerates and we can’t seem to stop it.  Transferring your brain into something that would last forever seems like something to explore doesn’t it?

Your brain has something like 30 billion neurons.  30 billion isn’t a terribly large number to a computer these days. There is of course the issue that each of these neuron cells has a large number of connections (called Synapses) between them which makes up what is currently “you”.  Those connections, guessed between 1000 and 10,000 per neuron, times 30 billion neurons and we’re in the hundreds of trillions of connections in your brain.

That’s a large number.

But again, in 2009 computer land, not overly so.  This is well within the computing and storage power of todays Supercomputers.

We don’t have the software to actually model or manipulate the data yet. Let’s assume for the sake of this discussion that the amount of storage is available, and we’ve somehow been able to map all of the connections to replicate the current state and function of your brain’s information into a computer system. We’ve created the correct software environment that allows the connections between neurons (or models of them) to fluidly connect, strengthen connections, and reorganize themselves like your biological brain.

We run into a serious problem.

Here we are, we’ve uploaded ourselves into our new silicon home and there’s something missing.

We’ve got:

  • Memories – Check
  • Thought – Check
  • Feelings – Check (I’m optimistic on this one, but who knows)

What did we miss?

Your brain is designed for input.

In fact it’s better at taking in input and deciding what to do with it than it is at anything else.  Consider when you are walking up a flight of stairs in the dark.  If you miscalculate that last step, think about how fast your brain gets your body to react because it didn’t get the correct signal from the bottom of your foot touching the floor exactly when it expected to get it.

You actually have several times more brain power for processing input and matching it to things you already know  than you do for storage and output.

Since your brain’s current state and design are for the human body, it makes sense to try and replicate the human body’s function and input system into the brain.  This is one good argument for building humanoid type robots that closely mimic us. So while you’re considering that brain download, you’ll need a state of the art input system at the same time.

Of course, since you’re upgrading, you might as well add some enhancements while you’re at it.  I’d go for being able to see more than visible light, and to be able to survive easily in a high radiation environment without oxygen, like outer space perhaps.

This would change what you are and how you perceive yourself. Would that be acceptable for you? What would happen to your biological self? Which you is You?