If you feel confused about the title of the article thinking its probably one of those philosophical topics then you are not wrong, but its also as much scientific as it is philosophical. Yes, that’s right, scientists have claimed that it would be possible for us to live on after we die by uploading our mind or consciousness into a computational device. As crazy as this may sound, mind uploading is actually a pretty popular hypothetical science concept and also an area of research within the computational neuroscience field. Mind uploading is sometimes also known as whole brain emulation and is strongly discussed in research publications as an approach to a sophisticated AI (Artificial Intelligence) for future. Whole brain emulation is often considered science fiction in the world of computer science. When we think about the philosophy behind the process of transferring one’s consciousness into a machine, it pushes us to think about a variance of outcomes and our ability to address each of them.
According to the author of A Taxonomy and Metaphysics of Mind Uploading, Keith Wiley, “We stand at the cusp of guaranteeing the survival of fundamental purpose in the universe, reality, and existence by insuring the continuation of consciousness. This is a far grander calling than merely enabling individual life extension. Existential metaphysical purpose is our foremost responsibility as conscious beings, and computer intelligence is the method of achieving it” Life extension being the most desired, other purposes like enhancing intelligence, expanding the range of human experiences, curing neurological and psychological diseases also serve as a drive to pursue technological research in this dimension. Many futurists and transhumanists who are passionate about ensuring the long term survival of human kind will emphasize deeply on this approach, however narcissistic it may sound.
The concept of whole brain emulation, as explained by physics and reasoned from a metaphysical point of view stands in agreement of each other at some levels. In physics, the standard model includes the notion of fundamental particles and forces. The term fundamental implies that such particles and forces cannot be reduced to, or explained by, lower causal phenomena. They are essentially axiomatic to physical reality. In metaphysical philosophy, a similar concept is purpose: an independent, inexplicable motive or reason for being, that underlies some entity’s existence, say that of a person, a species, the entire universe, or even the abstract notion of reality (the fact that anything exists in the first place). It is our unending search for such truths such as the purpose behind our existence individually and as a species that empowers us to think beyond the reality and explore dimensions that we cannot see.
Brain prostheses involves the use of BCIs or Brain computer interfaces to research, map, assist, augment or repair human cognitive or sensory-motor functions. The cochlear implant — in which the brain’s cochlear nerve is electronically stimulated to restore a sense of sound to someone who is hard of hearing is one such example. The BCIs act as direct communication pathways between enhanced (wired) brain and a device. Physicist Roger Penrose of the University of Oxford believes that consciousness is a quantum mechanical phenomenon arising from the fabric of the universe and should not be interpreted as a computer program. Analysing this concept from a political point of view also raises concerns about increasing the risk of war and changing of power dynamics amongst a technological arms race to build digital clones.