This scientist could pledge suicide to become immortal
For a long time, philosophers and theologians wonder if our conscience is immaterial. While this question is still open at the moment, many people believe our conscience isn’t anything more than the result of the many electrical processes happening in our brain.
Among those, Kenneth Hayworth (neurobiologist and engineer) is trying very hard to cartography the human brain. His ultimate goal? That someone create a digital program emulating his own brain before 2200 PCN…
Whether you believe in the immaterial nature of our conscience or not, it’s very likely that you can accept that if we can escape our conscience from his material container, our body, we would be able to live much longer, by occupying another one when our current one becomes too old, or damaged.
It is at least Hayworth’s belief that, given the fast advances of the computer technologies, it will someday be possible to create quantum computers fast enough to emulate our brain and therefore serve as a container for our conscience.
Beside the amazing (and awkward) nature of this idea, we should recognize that being able to escape our body would have many advantages. Because we would be able to create (and modify) our own body at any moment, we could adapt us to our environment faster than the biologic evolution would allow us to; we could learn to fly, wear heavy things or adapt our energy source to what’s actually available around us, almost effortlessly. As an aside, we could also clone us.
Isaac Azimov, best know for his three laws of robotic and author of “I, robot” (1950), said in one of his books something like “Robots are like our children. At some point, they’ll surpass us, and we’ll have to accept it. They are our heritage, and we should be proud of them.” What if, however, if we become the robots?
This idea was already discussed in an article a Mac fanboy wrote about Google glasses and where he implied that Apple would not like such a humanoid world where we don’t need fancy hardware anymore, just body parts. If anything, that proves that something as strange as that idea becomes debatable, even if we only are in the baby steps of that front…
The process of emulating an human brain in a computer is called mind uploading. This is something like this that Kenneth Hayworth would like to perform. To accomplish his goal, he would like to suicide and use his newly created brain scanner to create a very precise digital imagery of his brain, which is what requires him to pledge suicide. If his estimations are correct, the human being will be able to reconstruct his brain in as few as one or two centuries. We hope for him that the human being will still remember him at that point, however.
While scientists agree that the newly created copy would be just that (a copy of the original), meaning the original is dead for real, this would be amazing if those kind of things proved to be possible…
This blog post is greatly inspired by a French article from Futura-Sciences, where you can find additional scientific details about the brain scanner and Hayworth’s project.
You can also read this English article from Chronicle on the same subject