Mind Transfer Science could prevent you from dying in future

March 11 2008 / by futuretalk
Category: Other   Year: Beyond   Rating: 18

By Dick Pelletier

While hiking in the mountains, you accidentally fall off a cliff and your body and brain is damaged beyond repair. Is this the end of your life? Nope, it’s not even an inconvenience. Automated systems at the Body Replacement Center sense your situation and immediately construct a ‘new you’ with mind, memories, personality, and all cognitive abilities intact. In minutes, your new body and mind is teleported to the accident location; and you are not even aware that you had died.

Although today, this scenario sounds more like fiction than science, by mid-century, positive futurists believe that molecular nanotechnology and advanced scanning technologies will enable our lives to continue in this manner regardless of any catastrophe that may befall us.

Author James Gardner in The Intelligent Universe claims brain scanning technology is doubling each year, and scanners can now image individual neuron connections and their interactions. For the first time, we can watch our brain create thoughts, and observe how thoughts generate new spines and synapses when we learn something new.

Replacing biological brains with non-biological material is in beginning stages today. Doctors have successfully implanted an electronic chip to replace cells destroyed by Parkinson’s disease. And in the future, artificial neurons made from nanomaterials could replace biological brain cells giving us the amazing ability to think and process information millions of times faster than we can today.

Foresight Institute consultant John Burch (a recent poster on Future Blogger) believes that neuron replacement could become commonplace by as early as late 2030s, and he describes how these upgrades would be accomplished. ...

“A daily pill would supply materials and instructions for nanobots to format new neurons and position them next to existing biological cells to be replaced. These changes would be unnoticeable to us, but within six months, we would be enjoying the benefits of a powerful new brain.”

As we begin to use our new brain, we would not be aware that our mind had been switched from one set of brain cells to another. And when our mind is transferred from a destroyed body to a new one, this move will also be unnoticeable.

Utilizing non-biological neurons will allow easy interface with supercomputers; our life history then becomes software that can be simulated, expanded; even improved on if we desire; and the program will always be ready for transfer into a new body, should we encounter disaster.

Will people accept non-biological neurons into their brains? By 2030, the NIH predicts nanobots will be whizzing through our veins monitoring health and modifying DNA or RNAi instructions to protect us from sickness and disease. This forward technology will allow our bodies to remain in perfect youthful health, indefinitely.

As we become comfortable with nanobots monitoring our bodies, we will be receptive to other non-biological innovations. Futurist Ray Kurzweil believes that humans will one day become 100% non-biological. “This will be natural for us,” Kurzweil says, “Our species has always strived to improve itself.”

Of course, no one can predict for sure how our “magical future” will unfold, but the possibilities exist for mind transfers, and given the desire of each individual to opt for life over death, this science could become reality in our lifetime.

Do you think eliminating death is a good idea?

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Comment Thread (12 Responses)

  1. i’d be curious to know what the common lifespan would be when an indefinite lifespan is possible. how many years or centuries would you live before you’d finally had enough? how many experiences would you have to have before there was nothing else you were interested to know or do?

    Posted by: Zora Styrian   March 11, 2008
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  2. It may be impossible to accurately predict the long range future of human life. Today, we probably don’t possess enough neuron power to run enough simulations about what the future might offer.

    In addition, technologies that could develop in 100 or 1,000 years from now might help unravel the mysteries of death – is reincarnation possible? Is there any science at all involved with religion’s imaginary “life after death” scenario?

    I for one would like to live in a healthy and happy environment for as long as I wish. How long will that be? I don’t have a clue.

    Posted by: futuretalk   March 11, 2008
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  3. what’s reincarnation mean? if we have the option of an indefinite lifespan, and one that becomes completely non-biological, we could put that consciousness in any body, right? human or animal or whatever. is that an equivalent?

    Posted by: Zora Styrian   March 11, 2008
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  4. I believe the important part of reincarnation would be to learn of the past lives that my consciousness may have been involved with, as opposed to determining what future lives I might become a part of.

    Did my consciousness or a simulation thereof live in the past as a famous person – maybe Einstein or Newton? (I’m dreaming here, of course)

    It has been said that as science fiction sometimes precludes real science advances, maybe wild imaginings such as these could serve as a template for the real future. You think?

    Posted by: futuretalk   March 11, 2008
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  5. hmm.. that’s an interesting question. i used to practice past life regressions, and i had a very vivid ‘dream’ that i was a well-built muscular black man, maybe 6’5”, bald-headed, working on the transcontinental railroad, driving ties into the rail. (i’m a white female, at the moment). i believe it as much as i believe any other esoteric views. but, what’s to be gained by that “knowledge”? so maybe i was that person in a past life. most people (or all but one) won’t have been einstein in a past life, and more likely will have been someone of little human capital and will have done nothing noteworthy. maybe you were a ditch digger. would would change in your life now if you knew that’s what you were before? in addition, our historical archives of the past are much spottier than they will be for our generation, so how would we even gain a full life spectrum of trials and tribulations from our past selves? besides, with the amount of information we have available to us today about other cultures and hardships of peoples across the planet, we can develop a sense of empathy as well as gratitude by understanding what’s going on in other places. i don’t need to have been a child soldier in rwanda to internalize its atrocities, because i can find first hand accounts of what that means. or are you saying that we could relive those accounts once we unlock past lives? perhaps it would be possible one day to do so, and there may be value in it. but my opinion is that once we might have that ability, we will have also gained the ability to experience other situations through virtual simulations.. so what’s the difference?

    Posted by: Zora Styrian   March 12, 2008
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  6. Zora, reliving a past reincarnation sounds very plausible. I like the direction your imagination seems to take, especially in the area of virtual simulations.

    Some futurists believe that virtual reality could one day dominate humanity in that with tomorrow’s enhanced artificial intelligence, we could create a virtual existence that our real world could not compete with.

    But I find this hard to swallow. When humans begin replacing their biological neurons with more powerful nano neurons which will enable thoughts and information to be processed billions or trillions of times faster, we will surely find reality, strengthened with its amazing science and technologies more attractive.

    However, Cambridge philosopher Nick Bostrom suggests that our lives and world; even our universe may be nothing more than a simulation created by some superior intelligence. If this is true, I hope the program controlling my life has an indefinite lifespan built into it.

    Posted by: futuretalk   March 12, 2008
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  7. “how many years or centuries would you live before you’d finally had enough? how many experiences would you have to have before there was nothing else you were interested to know or do?”

    At the point of diminishing returns, you could begin to selectively delete your memories (either single ones or in large swathes) and experience things again for the first time, keeping the wisdom learned over the ages. Assuming we’ll be able to extend lifespans indefinitely, I think total memory control is a plausible technology as well.

    More on the topic of the original post, I don’t see why it would benefit me to have a copy of myself produced and delivered to the scene. I’d still be dead and it would be all over. My friends and family, of course, would benefit by not having their lives disrupted by my accident. I would also incidentally benefit from the technology, but only because their lives could be fully reconstructed in an instant.

    For my current consciousness to have an eternal experience, I would have to hedge against the uncertain future by distributing my mind somehow so that it would be increasingly unlikely to be shut down through any natural disaster (in the fashion that the whole internet doesn’t go down if a single node does). I imagine this could conceivably be done first by augmenting the brain with digital circuitry, then gradually shifting the bulk of processing and sensory input/output out of the brain, then snipping the brain connection off when it’s no longer needed.

    Posted by: gremlinn   March 12, 2008
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  8. It’s difficult for me to imagine all the benefits derived from our future ability to process information billions or trillions of times faster than we can today. I keep focusing on how we would run a gazillion simulations in our mind in just a few nanoseconds that would enable us to always make accurate decisions. And as to other benefits; there are probably many, but my today’s mushy biological neurons don’t seem to come up with what they might be.

    Back to the original post, when you consider the job that Mother Nature does when, even though our cells are dying and being replaced constantly, our consciousness keeps rolling over to the new cells and we are not even aware that we are living in a body that is constantly dying and being renewed.

    With tomorrow’s artificial intelligence, aided by the number-crunching abilities of quantum computers, it seems logical for me to assume that transferring consciousness to a new body would be a relatively simple undertaking.

    And if, with a simulated consciousness uploaded into a new body, I could not tell the difference from my old body, then why should anyone assume I am not the same person. If I believe that I am still the old me, then maybe I am.

    Remember, the goal of these emergency life extension procedures is to eliminate suffering an unwanted death. I think the technology accomplishes this goal.

    Posted by: futuretalk   March 12, 2008
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  9. @Gremlin How would you be able to delete memories and save the wisdom? or as futuretalk suggested, if we could “run a gazillion simulations in our mind in just a few nanoseconds that would enable us to always make accurate decisions”, would our current notion of “wisdom” be obsolete? we wouldn’t have to make any mistakes, since we’d be able to simulate the outcomes of virtually any decision…

    Posted by: Zora Styrian   March 12, 2008
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  10. Here’s an observation: if, according to Ray Kurzweil and other forward thinkers, exponentially-advancing technologies are increasing their rate of advancements – doubling every two years; then every year and a half; then every year; every six months; three months; month; week; day; hour; minute? – What might this mean to humanity’s future?

    First, can we even grasp what’s happening? “Singularity” enthusiasts believe this describes the problem they’re talking about. We will reach a time when technologies advance so fast that no one can contemplate how they will affect our lives. Will this become true, or might the future unfold in the manner suggested by J. Storrs Hall, in his recent book, “Beyond AI” where, with non-biological neurons, we will interface with our Super-AGI creations and easily understand a rapidly-advancing future.

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by: futuretalk   March 12, 2008
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  11. Good point, Zora. I guess that looking at wisdom in that way, we may have a collective wisdom in humanity if we are able to link together our minds at some point—I don’t see any huge stumbling blocks to that if consciousness can be transferred to new and more universal substrates. Even if memory alteration could not be adequately performed to “keep life interesting”, I imagine it would still be easy to continue enjoying life all the same.

    After all, enjoyment is ultimately just the result of neurochemical processes. We could at some point force equivalent experience of joy without an underlying “reason”. Not sure how many will decide to go for that or forgo it, though.

    Posted by: gremlinn   March 13, 2008
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  12. Once our bodies become non-biological, we may take on the characteristics of a new species. Human emotions and feelings might be enhanced to such degrees that we would never want to return to our humanity. It’s mind-boggling to imagine such changes that we may undergo.

    Anybody want to toss out some examples of what our future life might be like?

    Posted by: futuretalk   March 13, 2008
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