Live Forever – But It’ll Cost You!
Brain technology is advancing as fast as computer chips multiply, and that’s really fast. Today, scientists believe that within 10 years, we’ll be able to upload our brains into a computer and live in cyberspace – practically forever.
“Replicate the 100 billion nerve cells that comprise the human brain,” says Professor Meyer Indzinsky of the Syracuse Laboratories in Leningrad, “and you have the basis for a working extra-human brain.” However, replicating consciousness is another matter entirely. Here, researchers are divided amongst themselves as to what exactly constitutes a person’s awareness of himself. Indzinsky subscribes to the prevailing school that
equates consciousness with the sum of our experiences, in which case replication would be less of an obstacle than others would expect.
Immortality – Not Quite
Many researchers believe that the brain is not downloadable, and certainly not replicable, since human thought is non-linear and not predictable. Philosopher David Chalmers distinguishes between cognition – how we focus on and process external information – and what he calls phenomenal experience – how the external world becomes subjective feelings. Aside from this, moral questions arise, and – of course – matters of digital security.
What’s the Latest Quote on Brainpower?
All of these will likely be surmounted once the marketplace develops demand for a product that has been thoroughly researched and vetted.
The cost, though, is what determines just who will get to see the bright future and who won’t. The cost of cryogenics today runs anywhere between $40,000 and $300,000; the cost of downloading one’s brain would probably be much higher. Still, considering that all new technologies begin by being prohibitively expensive – yet another form of social exclusion, within years they undergo a democratization thanks to advancing technologies and burgeoning competition.
When the first Commodore computers came out, their list price was today’s equivalent of $1,500. The Commodore-64 had 64 (wait for it…) Kilobytes of RAM and a plug-in module for the 5 1/4″ floppy disk that could hold another 360 KB. Today, for the same price, you can get a custom-built high-end gaming computer, which back in the 1980s would have looked like a science fiction dream, and which boasts memory measured in millions and billions of kilobytes (gigas and teras, respectively… of bytes).
Estimates are that the technology to download a brain will take a decade to get here, and chances are that within the following decade (20 years from now), the technology will be generally affordable.
All we have to do in the meanwhile is evade senility, and we’ve got an eternity to live beyond.