Want to live forever? According to some of the leading minds in the world, including Stephen Hawking, by 2030 we should have the capability to upload a person’s consciousness to a computer system. This would allow the human mind to live on in a virtually created world after the body has died, even interacting with other uploaded consciousnesses on the server.
The New Yorker recently reported on the surge in scientists interested in finding a way to preserve human consciousness after the body has died. In fact, it is noted that a growing number of researchers have stepped into this field of thought and are working diligently to bring immortality, at least of the mind, to the mainstream. Stephen Hawking, renown by many as one of the most powerful minds on earth, has said the idea is not completely science fiction. In fact, he says it is “theoretically possible” as computer capabilities increase exponentially.
“It’s theoretically possible to copy the brain onto a computer, and so provide a form of life after death.”
According to the Telegraph, Hawking notes that the human brain works in a similar fashion to a computer. The brain runs like a “program” in the mind which is exactly how a computer works. Therefore, it would be possible to copy all the pathways in the mind to a computer and allow for some sort of afterlife experience.
In addition to Hawking, futurist Ray Kurzweil, who has pinned a series of books discussing an even he calls “Singularity.” Kurzweil agrees with Hawking and claims that the capabilities to upload the human mind may be available as early as 2030. Kurzweil outlines his idea of exactly how the uploaded human consciousness may interact with other consciousnesses via a sort of internet server. Kurzweil’s website provides details on how the conversations and experiences may take place. For example, in the future all minds, including both the living and dead, may be connected to an internet server. If individuals wanted to meet virtually, they could simply request to be connected with another individual. They could then “go to” virtual spaces created by images of the mind such as a cafe or favorite place in nature. It would be similar to a chat room of sorts where the mind could control the setting, smells, sounds and sights. Kurzweil says this type of technology is not far-fetched and as computer capabilities expand, will become rapidly available.
“Our scanning machines today can clearly capture neural features as long as the scanner is very close to the source. Within 30 years, however, we will be able to send billions of nanobots-blood cell-size scanning machines-through every capillary of the brain to create a complete noninvasive scan of every neural feature. A shot full of nanobots will someday allow the most subtle details of our knowledge, skills and personalities to be copied into a file and stored in a computer.”
The 2045 Initiative, which deals directly with preserving human consciousness through technology, has set a goal of transferring the human brain to an artificial intelligence avatar by no later than 2035.
What do you think of the idea of living forever in a virtual world? Would you allow your brain and consciousness to be uploaded to a computer server if you had the option?