Imagine never having to fight, or be in fear of dying. No more pain or obstacles ever again, while retaining the memories and mental abilities you have now. We call that concept “transhumanism“. It’s a way of life that looks to make eternal life possible by uploading your consciousness into a machine. But, you may not have ever imagined what would happen if we could upload our consciousness into a machine and live forever in a simulated existence.
It sounds fantastic, but there are major concerns surrounding it, including whether the process will lead to an intelligence explosion and create “supermen” that could not only imagine but also create new worlds for themselves before us.
Can you upload your mind into a machine and live forever?
Well, it is not as simple as it sounds.
The brains of humans and many animals store information in a way that allows it to be recalled at will. That kind of information is called “proto-memories”(where “proto” refers to “original or primitive”). The brain then starts to develop additional memories: a new generation of proto-memories, the next level, until you end up with what we consider “consciousness”: remembering everything.
However, there is another type of memory that we know very little about yet. The memories are in our genes and do not generate any conscious memories. These memories are likely stored in clusters within each neuron, making up so-called epigenetic memories.
Perhaps, that is why it has been hard to find a way of uploading these memories into a machine; one of the bottlenecks so far has been finding a way to remove the unwanted epigenetic memories from the process. Uploading a mind into a machine would involve sending the contents of a person’s memory and consciousness into an advanced computer system or another human body or even an entirely new virtual reality.
It could give the recipient superhuman abilities. Such abilities include being able to create worlds within computers and alter them at will. It is also possible that it could have disastrous results by creating “supermen” that could manipulate other people’s epigenetic memories and possibly even modify their genetic memories as well, leading to conflicts with our regular minds.
Therefore, it remains hard to say whether the process will eventually lead to eternal life. It’s because many issues are still under debate; we do not really know where our consciousness comes from.
Does being able to upload consciousness into a machine mean living forever?
That is a difficult question to answer since it depends on what we mean by “living forever”.
If by “living forever” you mean the idea of creating a backup of your mind and loading it into a machine, that is not necessarily true. It would be easy to prove that this process does not lead to eternal life in reality; just ask someone whether they are still the same person after loading their memories into a machine.
But does being alive mean what we think? Do we have control over our lives? Maybe uploading our minds into machines will enable us to achieve immortality, but that is not what most people would consider living forever.
Everything aside, uploading our thoughts into machines is a cool concept. Although no one knows for sure whether human intelligence in the future could develop such a technology or not, one thing is for sure technological advancement is an unstoppable phenomenon – at least until some sort of world-ending catastrophe.