So just because most of us have relegated these conversations to the realm of science fiction, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t being discussed in a very serious way. I’ve touched on this in this space before. How human does an AI or android have to be to have rights? What will their role be in society in relation to our own? Etc. There are discussions that have to come first though, and apparently I would have been putting the cart before the horse. So, there are experts…
Transhumanists want to upload their minds to a computer. They really won’t like the result.
Apologies as the page hasn’t been allowing me to embed links in text, though all the functions are still there. This is the article takeaway though:
While it is theoretically possible to perfectly model a unique human brain down to the level of its synapses and molecules, doing so will not allow you to become immortal. Instead, you will still be in your body, and the thing in the computer will be your “digital doppelgänger.” The copy would feel just like you feel — fully entitled to own its own property and earn its own wages and make its own decisions. It would claim your name, memories, and even family as its own.
In other words, you wouldn’t be transcending your own humanity. You’d simply be creating another version of you that would exist simultaneously. It may behave like you. You might even ostensibly make it look like you, but it would not be you, even were science advanced enough at some point to pull it off. So slow your roll, bucko. It would not be the dream scenario where transhumanists who believe that within their lifetimes, technological advances will enable them to “upload their minds” into computer systems, thereby allowing them to escape the limitations of their biology and effectively “live forever.”
The article got me thinking though what a person might think of themself were they able to view themself from the outside. All of us are capable to some degree of reflection, and many of us who have engaged in rigorously honest self-examination have not enjoyed the experience. It’s been quite the opposite for many people, who have gained upon a moment of clarity that they are simply not good people, and that everyone else knows it. What may you find out about yourself if you were able to truly view yourself from the outside and get to know yourself as others do? This could be exactly the experience you would get were you able to recreate yourself in another version that might for a time exist in the same timeframe as you. It could be illuminating and it could be utterly damning.
Furthermore, which version of you might be entitled to your identity and all that goes with it? This is assuming that everyone else in the world hasn’t similarly transitioned. Would you have to battle yourself for supremacy? Mortal combat? An ongoing lawsuit? Certainly one or both of you would be miserable in the absence of all the comforts of your/his/her/their life.
Just a thought.
Anyway, having given all this some thought off and on over the years, it never really occurred to me that the very premise itself was flawed, as this article maintains. Of course you wouldn’t be making any kind of a transition or transcendence! It would just be a copy. It’s such a common sense proposition that now I’m not going to be able to unsee it. It’s going to nag at me when I’m viewing a movie or show where this transcendence is part of the premise. How annoying!
It’s humorous though. Even were it possible to make the copy, it could be really inconvenient if for a time you’d have to exist together. One of you might have to go. Which one? Presumably the original, because wouldn’t the entire reasoning be that conditions were becoming inhospitable to a human form… I don’t know. It gets more complicated the more I think about it.
Okay… just a wordy intro to an interesting article. Enjoy.