An idea of a possible future.

April 15, 2014

The idea of having your consciousness transferred into a computer is very interesting and popular but there are a few things about it I've never heard explored. We don't know what kind of technology will become available in the future or what we will discover about the nature of reality, but it seems to me the human bodies we now inhabit will be just a step in our evolution.

If we copy our consciousness to a computer, our brain would still be around with the original consciousness still there. The copy would feel like it was transferred over, it would have no sense that it was a copy at all. Keeping this in mind, it is fascinating to think of what the copy would experience.

We are not looking at reality, our eyes are simply passing information on to our brain. Our nerves pass tactile, visual, olfactory information, etc... If your consciousness was in a computer you would be able to switch your sensory input as easily as changing a channel. Imagine a robot on Pluto, much too harsh an environment for us to ever experience first hand, but a robot with a wireless link to satellites and satellite relays could send all that information to you. It would be as if your consciousness had switched into that body and the experience you would have in it would be similar (if you wanted it to be) to what we experience now. Imagine our ability to explore new worlds like this, sending probes with self assembling robots far away to other planets. With no body to decay, time wouldn't be an obstacle anymore to visiting new worlds. When you were done with one world you could switch back over to another. Or just shut input off and do whatever people do when they live inside of a computer.

There might be quite a queue to wait in to get to particular vacation spot or other places of interest. With potentially billions of minds in the computer system and likely not that many bodies to inhabit you may have quite a wait on your hands.

Machines could be built to withstand much higher gravity, or higher temperatures. We could watch it snow metal, swim in oceans of liquid methane, or climate the highest mountains in the solar system with no oxygen deprivation.

Think of the utility aspect of this as well, nuclear disasters wouldn't affect a metal body and could be cleaned up by workers in these bodies. Transferring into a 200 foot tall giant robot made for moving earth would be better than clumsy controls to a steam shovel or bulldozer. The robots wouldn't need to be humanoid at all although existing inside of them might take some getting used to.

Another interesting aspect is the flow of time. The perception of time with the kind of processing power you might find in the future could be drastically different. We are used to time flowing at a certain rate, it takes a few seconds to form a thought, to add 2+2, but in a computer we could have the same program working the same way our consciousness does but at a much faster speed. What we would consider to feel like a day passing, could happen in only a second. The rate of advancement at that point would be astonishing to an outside observer in an old fashioned organic body, but to us it would all seem normal if we were all operating at that speed. It would be as if everything else in the universe slowed down.

That brings up another interesting dilemma, while in a robot, you may need to have your consciousness processor speed throttled down so each step or movement doesn't feel like an eternity. You could throttle it down even more, so slow that you could watch the constellations in the sky change, or watch Haley's comet zip by over and over.

Not only would we think much faster but we might not need any downtime. We don't know enough about dreams and what's happening in our minds while we sleep to be sure, but perhaps whatever it is can be sped up by a computer. For instance as some believe, your dreams are when your brain is sorting memories and determining which ones to keep and which ones to forget, this process could be done in seconds. Any repair that needed to be done on a cellular level in your body would no longer be a factor, so we could essentially never need to sleep.

I don't think we would be able to ever experience this because it would only be a copy, but perhaps the future will bring technologies that could actually move our consciousness into a more stable form if we make it that long. Many people working in life extension think we might be at cusp where some people alive today may avoid death. It's exciting to think about.

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