My Brain, my Mind, and I: Some Philosophical Problems of Mind-Uploading


Department of Sociology and Philosophy, University of Exeter, Amory Building, Rennes Drive, Exeter EX4 4RJ, UK

Abstract. The progressing cyborgization of the human body reaches its completion point when the entire body can be replaced by uploading individual minds to a less vulnerable and limited substrate, thus achieving “digital immortality” for the uploaded self. The paper questions the philosophical assumptions that are being made when mind-uploading is thought a realistic possibility. I will argue that we have little reason to suppose that an exact functional copy of the brain will actually produce similar phenomenological effects (if any at all), and even less reason to believe that the uploaded mind, even if similar, will be the same self as the one on whose brain it was modeled.

I have argued that the hope of attaining “digital immortality” through a completion of the ongoing cyborgization process, i.e. through mind-uploading, rests on several questionable assumptions. We have no evidence whatsoever to support the idea that  even a perfectly accurate software emulation of a human brain will actually result in conscious experience. This will only happen if the formalist theory of mind is true, which we have no way of knowing and which we have no reason to believe until we encounter a mind instantiated in something that is not a living, organic body. But if it does result in conscious experience, then we  still have no guarantee that it will be anything like the experience of the mind we intended to duplicate, or recreate. Should this be the case, though, then we may still see our hopes disappointed by the fact that the newly created mind, though qualitatively identical to the mind whose continued existence we intended to ensure through the emulation, is not numerically identical to it. In other words, it may be a different mind, or more precisely, a different self. Although the self may be preserved through various stages of increasing cyborgization, the final step may prove one step too far and end the existence of the self. This is not only possible, but indeed very likely, since the final step is different from the previous ones in so far as it relies on the possibility of copying the self (instead of merely preserving it through a series of changes). Yet the only thing that can be copied is information, and the self, qua self, is not information. But even we managed to not lose the self during the copying process and to somehow connect it to the new non-organic substrate, we would have trouble recognizing ourselves. For what we think of as ourselves is very much tied to our bodily existence and as such far more comprehensive and richer than a mere mind can ever be.
Tipisks filosofu sacerējums, kura pamatā ir doma, ka ‘mēs nezinām, kas ir apziņa’ un, ja tas būs iespējams, tad ‘tie nebūsim mēs’. Raksts labi rāda, kā daļa sabiedrības uztver un saprot, iztēlojas galvenās AI idejas: zina nepilnīgi, daļu mūsdienīgo zināšanu atmet (tā ir zināma smadzeņu īpašība – atmest, ignorēt pieredzi, kas neapstiprina mūsu sākotnējos pieņēmumus), un, balstoties uz atlikušajām zināšanām, izdara secinājumus.

About basicrulesoflife

Year 1935. Interests: Contemporary society problems, quality of life, happiness, understanding and changing ourselves - everything based on scientific evidence.
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One Response to My Brain, my Mind, and I: Some Philosophical Problems of Mind-Uploading

  1. Pingback: Article about IDENTITY…..taken from Stanford University Encyclopedia……… | Vernon's Learning Journal

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