Prediction #5: There Will Be No You Version 2.0

by Randy Murray on August 6, 2010

Yesterday I wrote about the potential for a 1.5 release version of you. But I’m not holding out for a 2.0. While we might be able to extend our lives, extend our capabilities, and improve our lives as we age, I don’t think we’ll be able to make that great scifi leap and move our minds to new bodies or to live online, translated from flesh to living inside a computer.

Why no eternal life through technology?

Because our minds are a product of our brains and our brains are incredibly complex.

Our brains are not computers in the way that we think of computers today. They don’t store information and memories magnetically or optically. They don’t process information digitally. You can’t, with our current technology or even technology we can reliably predict, recover information from a cadaver brain. It’s a shockingly complex organ, using electricity, biochemical reactions, and possibly even quantum events to give rise to what we each call “I”.

Unlike a computer hard drive, we can’t simply “copy” a brain, overwrite it onto a fresh one, and boot you up. And it doesn’t appear that we will ever be able to. And the complexities involved in simulating you in a computer are practically beyond comprehension.

Ask yourself these questions: Have you ever gotten sick and said, “I don’t feel like myself today”? Have you ever gotten angry and said or did something completely out of character? Have you ever gotten intoxicated and been bewildered at how different you felt and acted during the experience? Are you today the same person that you were ten years ago?

The smallest change in your body chemistry changes YOU. And if you’ve ever watched as a friend or loved one suffered from a mental illness, from altered states of dementia or diseases like Alzheimer’s, you’ve seen how critical biochemistry is. How can that be simulated? And if it could, who would control this very critical aspect of who and what you are? If you eliminate the changes that biochemistry makes on you, then are you still you?

It’s clear to me: you are a combination of your brain and body. If it were possible to copy the contents of your mind and put it in a new body or a computer system you’d find that you were someone else, something else. As hopeful as I am for most science, I’m not hopeful about this.

If you’re interested in what’s going on in your own brain, I highly recommend the works of Steven Pinker, especially How The Mind Works. Pinker is a Harvard professor (formerly at MIT) and a gifted and entertaining writer.

So you’d better keep your current body and mind in the best shape possible. Do back up your computer, but don’t plan on doing the same for your mind!

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The Prediction #5: There Will Be No You Version 2.0 by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Mari August 7, 2010 at 12:00 am

Just got me an OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro. At least it comes with a Read Me file yet the complexities therein emphasize your prediction #5 and the unfathomable complexities of ever pulling off a Person 2.0.


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