Mindclone: When youre a brain without a body, can you still be called human?

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This is particularly apparent when it comes to digital clones. The name, which might sound familiar from Black Mirror, and other sci-fi shows, has become one of the most topical subjects in neuroscience and cloning. The Immortality of human consciousness Setting fictional dreams aside, the discussion around human and digital cloning should start with the basic question of what digital clones are.

Mindclones will experience reality from the standpoint of whatever machine their mindware is run on. The question of immortality has bothered humanity for thousands of years. Until recently, it has been subject to both religious and fictional debate as opposed to being a scientific reality. As human beings are the only animals who know they will die, the anxiety about irreversible death is always there. In this regard, two American psychologists, Eric Olson and Robert Lifton, try to explain the notion of death anxiety in their ground-breaking work Living and Dying.

Human inventiveness in the pursuit of immortality testifies to the persistent urgency of avoiding death anxiety. It may seem unrealistic at first, however, apart from theoretical discussions and hypothetical assumptions, there have been several projects and initiatives developing digital clones. One of the major projects is Initiative , led by the Russian billionaire Dmitry Istskov.

In doing so, the individual's life is extended to the point of immortality. Otherwise I wouldn't have started it. If created, it is clear that digital clones would bear transformative effects on society. The Dalai Lama, among others, has supported such initiatives but has also acknowledged possible milestones.

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Since digital clones will be created to replicate the consciousness, it is arguably hard to prove that it will not extend the consciousness to unknown and utopian fields. Such fears are not new in the scientific community. We have already cloned animals. The question of cloning humans is not a technical one, but an ethical one.

The main issues have been around using embryonic stem cells for research purposes. It has been discovered that stem cells during the first week of an embryo are very plastic, which means that they can develop into any cell in the body.


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This, in turn, has created strong objectors who question whether it is morally acceptable to destroy an embryo that has a potential to become a human being. In its text, the Member States called for the prohibition of the application of techniques that may be contrary to human dignity. Another question that arises is for how long would a singular identity span two substrates? Each mind — the biological original and the mindclone — will surely have its own thoughts just as each of us has different thoughts from minute to minute.

Indeed, this is sometimes used as an argument why mindclones do not share the identity of their original. I believe a singular identity will always span the mindclone and its original.

Digital immortality - Wikipedia

This is easier to appreciate when you consider that normally each of them will continuously synchronize their common mindfile, using high-speed links. Both parts of the single identity will take note of what the other has done. As mindware gets ever better at making mindclones that are absolutely faithful psychological replicas this fear will dissipate.

In any event, most people do not fail to get married out of fear that another person will have access to a joint bank account. There will be instances in which the mindclone and the original do not update each other. Instead, the single identity decides, in conversation with itself we biological originals do talk to ourselves, weighing pros and cons in our heads , to experience life separately.

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Like being dealt two 8s in a blackjack game, and deciding to split, some people and their mindclones will go separate ways. Even in such cases I believe we are speaking of a single identity.

We must remember that both the biological original and the mindclone share a unique psychological profile based upon a mountain of mindfile data. They are the same person. The fact that they subsequently have many unique, perhaps life-changing experiences does not change either of their individual identities, and hence cannot have changed their common identity.

While the original and the mindclone will be very different after years of unique experiences, they will still be the same person. It will be as if you visited a close friend after first living ten years in Ethiopia, and then again after living ten years in China.

On the first visit your friend would remark on how the Ethiopian experiences changed you, but would still recognize you as his friend. On the second visit your friend would see yet another version of you, this time changed by life in China. Once again, though, your friend would surely recognize you as the same person who first left for Ethiopia twenty years earlier. This is the power of an established set of mannerisms, personality, recollections, feelings, beliefs, attitudes and values. Whatever changes will not be able to entirely mask the starting set of conditions.

It is all but impossible to completely crawl out of an established mind. Perhaps deciding to have a mindclone is analogous to having a child. Once the child is born, you will always be a parent. Similarly, once a mindclone is created, you will always be a dual-substrate identity. Many parents have little or nothing to do with their offspring, but neither the parent nor the offspring can get the parental relationship out of their mind. Their identity has permanently been altered to include the fact that they are part of a good or bad parent-offspring relationship.

Analogously, even if a mindclone parts ways with their original, neither will ever be able to forget the fact that someone else with their same mind exists.

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The creation of a cognitive doppelganger is an identity-altering experience. In summary, a mindclone is a fully functional, software-based copy of your mind, residing on computer substrate.

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You and your mindclone will think the same thoughts, and feel the same feelings, as well as having unique ones. In most instances the two of you will be wirelessly linked to a common mindfile so there will be a constant synchronization of cognition and experiences. When mindclones arise in the next few years, as a consequence of our burgeoning mindfiles and rapidly developing mindware, we will get used to the idea that identity is replicable.

A person will be able to be in two places at the same time. How will we really know that our mindclone is conscious, actually feeling the same fears, and dreaming the same dreams, as are we? It is easy to imagine a mindclone just doing an amazing job of mimicking our consciousness, like some chatbots today mimic human conversational behavior. These questions of consciousness, and of cyberconsciousness, are answered next.

I have nothing against creating body- or mind-clones, a well-visited domain in speculative fiction precisely because of the questions it raises on identity.

This Is Your Brain on Neural Implants

Using such a construct as a backup once it has developed on its own will be ethically shady; furthermore, it is quite likely that a mindclone confined to a computer will go mad, unless a complete VR reconstruction is created around it—a tall order, to put it mildly. I completely disagree. A person, by definition, cannot be anyone but themselves. I cannot be two people at the same time. I do not care how identical another being is to me, we are obviously two separate entities since we each have our own individual, subjective perception of our own existence, and external environments.

If I die, my doppelganger could survive, proving we are two separate entities, regardless of how identical we are. My subjective sense of my existence would have ended, as I cannot share that sense of existence with my doppelganger. I am dead from my point of view, which is all I care about. I would take no consolation that a mindclone of me was still living, since I am dead. While a song can be downloaded an unlimited number of times and still remain a single song, it lacks any sense consciousness.

Though the mind is a complex pattern of information, it can only exist in one substrate at a time since it is conscious of itself.


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  • If two individual substrates are running identical programs, their existence is completely independent of each other. One mind can die while the other lives, proving that they are two separate entities. I am also confused by your timelines. A few years? Even the most optimistic projection of AI development places a Human level AI in , a projection made by the techno-evangelist Kurzweil.

    More moderate projections place a Human AI in , and others still think it may take centuries, if it happens at tall. Since there is currently no scientific theory explaining consciousness, any discussions about mindclones or mind transfers are purely hypothetical. But how does a digital entity experience love?

    He can't even experience pizza. His one compensation: a powerful digital brain.

    Tag: mind uploading

    At Molly's urging, he applies it to unearthing terrorist plots, aborting schoolyard mayhem, exposing congressional malfeasance and Wall Street chicanery. However, his good deeds gain the attention of a power-mad military contractor who will stop at nothing-theft, kidnapping and worse-to control the technology for his own ends. Without a body, how will Adam save himself - and the world - from a terrible fate? I've been a writer all my life. I edited my high school yearbook and literary magazine.