While there’s a group of people that believe that our minds continue to exist after death in the form of spirit, so far there’s been no scientific proof that this is possible. However, some neuroscientists now believe that it will be possible for our minds to continue to function after death, albeit via a computer or some other simulation. So could this really happen?
First of all it would be necessary to preserve the brain. The key information about who we are is stored in the unique synapses between our neurons. It’ extremely difficult to transition those connections into a state where it won’t suffer from decay. However two sets of scientists have found separate ways to do this, albeit with brains of small mammals.
Once the brain has been preserved, the connections in the brain have to be traced. To be able to stimulate brain activity, a multitude of scans would need to be transformed into models of the brain’s wiring. At present, this isn’t even possible using a computer as they’re not able to reliably recognise the delineation between neurons on electron microscope images. However, advances in machine learning have become fifty times faster in the last five years, so who knows where they’ll be in the next hundred years?
Even if we can track the connections these will need to be understood
Even if we can track the connections, these will then need to be understood and converted into a fully functioning model which includes all the molecular information about its neurons and synapses. It’s a bit like looking at a the inside of a computer and getting it to work without any power and, given that the brain has about 100 billion neurons, an almost impossible task – at present. However, work is already underway to understand more about how the brain works, with $4.5 billion being allocated by the Obama administration just last year to further this research.
The next step would be to correct any errors that may have occurred so far, to ensure that it’s an accurate reflection of you, before writing a simulation. In theory, this is a relatively easy step, but as we currently don’t have a computer powerful enough to simulate the whole human brain, it’s still a step too far right now. Once the simulation has been produced it would then be connected to a robotic or virtual body. However, even at this point, there’s no way of knowing whether this is really you or whether it’s merely a copy. Still, as this kind of technology is unlikely to be available for at least another hundred years, there’s no point worrying about it!
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