Technologies that can simulate a deceased person’s life experience, consciousness, and memories do not exist today, but many experts believe that exponential advances in computers, artificial intelligence, and communications technologies could bring this dream into reality by mid-century or before.
First, neuroscientists must unravel the meaning of quadrillions of neuron firings; how thoughts turn into memories; how personalities are molded and how consciousness arises from the brain.
Success in this area has just received a boost from Vanderbilt University researchers who recently discovered the procedure in how neurons create our decisions, and HHMI progress in behavior control research.
Once the human mind is completely understood (which optimistically could happen within the next two-to-three decades), it may be possible for tomorrow’s computers to simulate brain activities of a deceased person’s last few years, or even their entire life; then dispatch nanobots to scan the brains of every living person who knew of the deceased, to gather more information.
All this data could then be used to simulate the deceased person’s mind and current state of consciousness; and then program this simulation into an artificial brain fashioned from ‘nano-neurons’ ready for upload into a newly-constructed body resembling the lost loved one.
Would the cloned ‘copy’ believe that he or she was the original person who died, and would others be convinced of the replicate’s authenticity? If the neurons were programmed correctly, no one would have reason to believe otherwise.
It could be argued that every time we rise in the morning, we’re a little different from the person who went to bed last night. So it just makes sense, to experience death, then be reanimated into a new body could be accepted, especially if the brain was programmed to live in an enhanced body.
Will this futuristic technology, which theoretically could become a popular procedure by mid-century, be accepted by mainstream society? The alternative would be to consign our lost loved ones to a state of being dead forever. How boring is that?
What are the chances of a radical concept like this happening? If computer technologies continue advancing exponentially as they have done for the last 50 years, and artificial intelligence develops as most futurist predict; mind simulation could one day become a routine practice. Comments welcome.
Dick Pelletier was a weekly columnist who wrote about future science and technologies for numerous publications. He passed away on July 22, 2014.
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