Where the Future of AI Is Headed
Why You Shouldn't Fear Artificial Intelligence
In the upcoming science fiction movie Self/Less, a dying man transfers his consciousness into a younger man's body so he can extend his life, presumably forever. As our computing power increases, it seems like this technology might be within our grasp which might be why we've seen similar ideas come up in other recent movies like Her and Ex Machina. Stephen Hawking and futurist Ray Kurzweil both believe we're about 40 years to away from being able to download all the data from one brain and upload it into another brain. In this episode of DNews, Trace discusses some of the obstacles we'd need to overcome to get there as well whether or not the idea is even feasible.
The first thing we'd need to figure out is how to read from the source brain and translate that into storable data. Neurons don't save memories like your computer's hard drive does. A single neuron in the brain can create 1,000 connections with other neurons, and somewhere in these connections is where memories are created and stored. Science don't know exactly how it's done but they've got some ideas, and a number of labs are trying to crack this complex code. Researchers at the UC Berkeley scanned the brains of people while they watched videos, and using only the brain scans, a computer was able to determine what their brains were processing. This is a step in the right direction, but they still have a ways to go.
Next, scientists would have to figure out a way to download--or write--these memories onto the new brain. A study in the journal Nature explored how the process of memory creation works using genetically modified mice whose neurons activated when hit with laser light. Researchers were able to demonstrate how memories are written, erased and reactivated, and then even "implant" a false memory into another genetically modified mouse. Ultimately, the biggest issue in consciousness transfer would be the ability to map the brain accurately. Computer scientists have been working on mapping and translating the brain network to a computer network for decades, and it's not a simple task.
However, if scientists did solve all these extremely complex problems, would you be into the idea of extending your life with a consciousness transfer? Let us know how your thoughts about this idea in the comments below.
The Brain vs. The Computer (University of Washington)
"Throughout history, people have compared the brain to different inventions. In the past, the brain has been said to be like a water clock and a telephone switchboard. These days, the favorite invention that the brain is compared to is a computer."
Scientists Are Convinced Mind Transfer Is the Key to Immortality (Motherboard.com)
"Call it mind transfer, uploading, brain backup, whatever-the idea of copying the human brain to a computer so it can live on without the body has a strong hold on futurists, neuroscientists, and folks that just want to live forever."
Mind-reading Technology Speeds Ahead (Scientific American)
"Jack Gallant perches on the edge of a swivel chair in his lab at the University of California, Berkeley, fixated on the screen of a computer that is trying to decode someone's thoughts."
Engineering a memory with LTD and LTP (Nature)
"It has been proposed that memories are encoded by modification of synaptic strengths through cellular mechanisms such as long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD)."