Over 30 years ago, back in 1981, a nice book challenged our ideas of brain, consciousness and what might happen if we ever would succeed in moving them to a machine. It was Mind’s I, a collection of articles prepared by Douglas R. Hofstadter and Daniel C. Dennett. If you haven’t read it do it. It is worth your time. And it is a most timely reading since now, in June 2012, the Internation Journal of Machine Consciusness has published a special issue on Mind Uploading.
The very ideas that were voiced in Mind’s I as pure speculation are now becoming serious research topics by many researchers around the world.
There are a number of forces that have led to this point: a growing understanding (although very far from being complete) of how our brain works, better tools to probe inside a living brain to see it “at work”, tools that can intercept thoughts as they are formed and translate them into signals upon which a machine can act (brain – machine interfaces, some already in the mass market as game interfaces) and more sophisticated software for signal processing.
What used to be a science fiction domain is now becoming the focus of research aiming at practical application.
The Mind Uploading Issue contains papers like “Fundamentals of whole brain emulation, state, transition and update representation“, “A framework for approaches to transfer of a Mind’s substrate”, plus several ones dealing with the tools available and required, like a paper with an eye catching title: ” Non destructive whole brain monitoring using nano robots”.
So, when do you think
- we will start seeing ads from Amazon or Network Operators urging you to back up your brain (mind) in their cloud?
- our brain, once in a cloud, will be accessible through open interfaces (API) to leverage their knowledge and provide services to third parties?
- we will be able to relax in our couch and make money because our virtual brain in the cloud is actually providing services based on the knowledge we have harvested?
- we will risk getting sued because our virtual brain has made a blunder?
And most interesting:
- when do you think the above questions will be just part of life, and not some crazy speculation?