A Profile of Kenneth Hayworth, Brain Preservation Prize Founder

From the Chronicle of Higher Education: "By 2110, Hayworth predicts, mind uploading - the transfer of a biological brain to a silicon-based operating system - will be as common as laser eye surgery is today. ... While a graduate student at the University of Southern California, he built a machine in his garage that changed the way brain tissue is cut and imaged in electron microscopes. The combination of technical smarts and entrepreneurial gumption earned him a grant from the McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience, a subsidiary of the McKnight Foundation, and an invitation to Harvard, where he stayed, on a postdoctoral fellowship, until April. To understand why Hayworth wants to plastinate his own brain you have to understand his field - connectomics, a new branch of neuroscience. A connectome is a complete map of a brain's neural circuitry. ... He looks at the growth of connectomics - especially advances in brain preservation, tissue imaging, and computer simulations of neural networks - and sees something else: a cure for death. In a new paper in the International Journal of Machine Consciousness, he argues that mind uploading is an 'enormous engineering challenge' but one that can be accomplished without 'radically new science and technologies.' ... to Hayworth, science is about overturning expectations: 'If 100 years ago someone said that we'd have satellites in orbit and little boxes on our desks that can communicate across the world, they would have sounded very outlandish.' One hundred years from now, he believes, our descendants will not understand how so many of us failed for so long to embrace immortality. In an unpublished essay, 'Killed by Bad Philosophy,' he writes, 'Our grandchildren will say that we died not because of heart disease, cancer, or stroke, but instead that we died pathetically out of ignorance and superstition' - by which he means the belief that there is something fundamentally unknowable about consciousness, and that therefore it can never be replicated on a computer."

Link: http://chronicle.com/article/The-Strange-Neuroscience-of/132819/


Agreed that uploading is an enormous engineering challenge and that the belief that there is something unknowable about consciousness is mistaken but that does not mean you can upload to a computer. Sure, cognitive and motor functions can be replicated in software but sentience isn't a function: it is peculiar to devices such as the brain which are very different from computers.

Simulation doesn't work either. However accurate your simulation of a brain is, all you're getting the computer to do is the calculations necessary to replicate the values of potential etc. as measured by the instruments you're using to probe the brain.

Posted by: Richard the sceptic at August 1st, 2012 6:57 AM

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