Since the dawn of computer science, humans have dreamt of building machines that can carry our memories and preserve our minds after our fleshy bodies decay. Whole brain emulation, or mind uploading, still has the ring of science fiction. And yet, some of the world’s leading neuroscientists believe the technology to transfer our brains to computers is not far off.
But if we could upload our minds, should we? Some see uploading as the next chapter in human evolution. Others fear the promise of immortality has been oversold, and that sending our brains off to the cloud without carefully weighing the consequences could be disastrous.
“I think uploading is possible, I just don’t think those uploads will be the real us,” Susan Schneider, a philosopher who studies the nature of the mind and consciousness, told me over the phone. “This could be good technology for many purposes, but we really need to think about the implications.”