Since the dawn of time, humans have been trying to achieve the impossible. The Wright brothers’ gave humans flight, the Human Genome Project revolutionised the medical field by doubling the average human lifespan and the creation of the industry 4.0 created a leap in automation. Yet, nothing will come close to the potential of storing millions of minds digitally on a platform that can integrate thoughts and emotions to produce the next technological revolution. But the mystery remains… will humanity evolve into a super species or will it forever disappear from the face of the Earth?
Are you out of your mind?
In theory, cloud upload of the human mind (containing all your memories, knowledge and experiences) might sound like an appealing proposition; however, the development of this technology is a complex scenario with an uncertainty in its applicability. Even if the engineering is available, the extent of a full mind upload and its consequences and side effects are undefined – which makes the applicability of this proposal, in real life, unreliable.
Humanity’s existence could be threatened by the advancement of this technology as reproduction mechanisms after the upload are unspecified and the role of the hosting bodies left behind is surrounded by an uncertainty. Would these bodies survive and identify their existence? And if so, would they behave differently and form a new race? Or will every person become a fragment of a digital database and get extinct from the tangible world? Answering these type of questions is required before the development of this idea, to assess the implications to humanity and the real world.
Virtue ethics quantifies a person’s morality based on certain desirable characteristics. In many religions, these characteristics often include following the word of God and a natural order of things, as well as, a connection of the celestial consciousness (spirit) to the physical world through the mind and the body. In a world where 72.1% of the population identifies themselves as being religious , the separation of the mind from the body could be considered immoral as it opposes the natural order of reality and the will of God.
More importantly, if our bodies were still left connected to the ever-expanding mind after the ‘upload’, the physical and mental consequences of this technology are unclear. Experiencing a multitude of emotions or traumas might result in crumbling of logic and reasoning as a result of emotional overload, which could cause mental instability. Also, a significantly enhanced mental activity would mean rapid firing of neurons. From a biological perspective, this would require a body to produce energy and utilise nutrition at a much faster pace, something that our present biological mechanisms are not equipped to provide. Moreover, as your mind will be widely accessible by strangers, not only will this be intrusive but also it could allow others to exploit your memories and emotions if they have unrestricted access. Who knows what their intentions might be?
In the scenario where the upload leads to the extinction of the mortal form of humans, we are left to wonder what would happen to the current civilisation that we dwell in? Who would operate the power plants required to sustain our virtual existence? Will we create a vicious circle of finding new means of surviving? As a result, this technology could actually contradict its own utilitaristic outlook if it led to potential collapse of the physical world as a direct consequence of abandoning real life in an attempt to attain a virtual Utopia.
Open_source your mind!
For humans, the mind is everything; the most profound mechanism that differentiates us from other species. It is commonly accepted that people use just 10% of their brain functions on average . Through a whole brain emulation, however, thoughts can be accelerated and databases of knowledge and perceptions can be generated such that they would change our entire outlook on space-time. In terms of the Utilitarianism viewpoint, this technology could bring the greatest well-being to most people. For instance, based on collective experiences, one physical year could be simulated within a few seconds such that time required to overcome some of the most pressing problems would be noticeably reduced. This includes, enabling space travel, curbing poverty and inspiring the cure to diseases, such as osteoporosis, diabetes and arthritis – which collectively affects over 921 million people across the globe[4,5,6].
So far, the furthest achievement in technology has been the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI). In the future, perhaps, we could program AI to create world peace but we may not be able to control the way in which it will be achieved; an AI might find it easier and more straight forward to start a third world war instead of encompassing Duty ethics (Kantianism) that is often considered in the more tedious path of diplomacy. In line with the Consequentialism theory both approaches would lead to world peace but only using human minds would we also achieve utilitarianism. No matter how intricate we make the AI, it can never fully simulate the complexity of a human mind and our troubleshooting capabilities. With ‘mind uploading’, however, the intellectual power of the entire human race could be conjointly used to iterate the best solution for most individuals based on an avid set of cognitive data thus creating the ultimate AI; the AI of everything!
History has proven that emotions also play a significant role in determining what is or is not ethical. For hundreds of years, wars, slavery, gender and racial discrimination had been the norm. Today, while progress is being made in these fields, ignorance and biases still exist which cannot be changed without increasing empathy and the ability to understand each other’s emotions. Imagine that all minds were uploaded onto a common digital space where everybody had access to each other’s emotional database. This method, in accordance to Care ethics, would allow us to deeply connect with other people’s emotions, such as happiness, admiration, anger and guilt, among others; and understand what led them to make a particular decision. All in all, we can show compassion, create equality and produce a better communication system between all human beings, thus taking a tremendous leap towards creating a Utopia.
As the benefits seem to outweigh the disadvantages, our initial decision is to support the concept of mind uploading.
 “The Human Genome Project (Stanford Encyclopedia Of Philosophy)”. 2019. Plato.Stanford.Edu. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/human-genome/.
 “The Global Religious Landscape”. 2019. Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project. http://www.pewforum.org/2012/12/18/global-religious-landscape-exec/.
 “Osteoporosis”. 2019. Iofbonehealth. https://www.iofbonehealth.org/epidemiology.
 “371 Million People Have Diabetes Globally, About Half Undiagnosed”. 2019. Cbsnews.Com. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/371-million-people-have-diabetes-globally-about-half-undiagnosed/.
 “National Arthritis Month”. 2019. Medicinenet. https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=23220.
 Carnegie, Dale. 1936. How To Win Friends And Influence People. 1st ed.