Do you want to be out of your mind?

Group 1

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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[1] 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 [2], 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 [3]. 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.

Initial Decision

As the benefits seem to outweigh the disadvantages, our initial decision is to support the concept of mind uploading.

References

[1] “The Human Genome Project (Stanford Encyclopedia Of Philosophy)”. 2019. Plato.Stanford.Edu. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/human-genome/.

[2] “The Global Religious Landscape”. 2019. Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project. http://www.pewforum.org/2012/12/18/global-religious-landscape-exec/.

[3] “Osteoporosis”. 2019. Iofbonehealth. https://www.iofbonehealth.org/epidemiology.

[4] “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/.

[5] “National Arthritis Month”. 2019. Medicinenet. https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=23220.

[6] Carnegie, Dale. 1936. How To Win Friends And Influence People. 1st ed.

18 thoughts on “Do you want to be out of your mind?

  1. Really interesting article giving a nice perspective to the topic.
    Would love to learn more about the engineering behind cloud uploading of the human consciousness

    1. Thank you very much for your positive feedback. We’re really glad you find this article’s topic interesting and fascinating. Please let us know if there’s anything you would want to learn more about in regards to this subject.

  2. In my opinion, uploading the human mind to a cloud server has great potential, in the various sorts of applications we may have for it. The “AI of Everything” could solve very many issues for us with the combined brainpower of over a billion people. You raise good points with the various ethics involved with this type of technology. As such, I started wondering, would the “AI of Everything” still have human emotions given that in your previous statement, you mentioned that it may “result in the crumbling of logic and reasoning as a result of emotional overload”?Will everyone really be chosen for this, if we ever attain this form of technology, or will it be a select few? If it is a select few, who would chose which person gets to upload their mind to the cloud, and what are the criteria? You may not have the answers to these questions, but it is something worth pondering upon given the ethics at question in relation to this form of technology. This article is able to cover various aspects of the advantages and disadvantages of the concept of mind uploading, and successfully shows a multitude of scenarios relating to this concept. I agree with the initial decision.

    1. Thank you for the involvement. You have highlighted some really big ethics questions that we have also been asking ourselves.
      As mentioned in the article there is a lot of unknown and understood areas that would need to be explored before engineers and scientists can make such a technology available.

      In the article we do mention that emotions will play a big role in the development of the ultimate AI. Think of it like all our minds were connected… now if you could feel everything someone experienced in their life, including their hardships and trauma, you may not be able to cope with the pain… and hence people could have emotional and mental breakdowns and outrages i.e “result in the crumbling of logic and reasoning as a result of emotional overload”?

      1. Emotions cause physical changes to the human body and that experience is what is attached to that emotion. That feeling of being without energy, not having the physical strength, the act of trying and also stress. However, these are attached to the physical form of the body. When the mind is uploaded onto the digital platform, the body does not have to be present past one’s lifespan and thus the digital intelligence will not experience the physical attachment of those emotions and thus be able to focus on the productive aspects of the mind, such as reasoning, logic and creativity.

        1. This is a really great point that you have raised. We are really glad to see that you found our article captivating and you can start thinking and imagining of all the possible implications this technology could have for human beings after mind upload in the future!
          Thank you very much for your feedback and we’ll definitely have a closer look to the point addressed.

    2. From an ethics point, the other questions you have raised are definitely worth looking into. I believe the idea is to have everyone upload their minds… and so there will be more questions to consider:
      will this be regulated? And if so who will regulate it? Will there be an opportunity or loophole to override peoples memories and experiences and will these mean a new form of ‘terrorism’.

      1. This is an extremely extraordinary point that you have raised. We are extremely happy to see that you found our article enthralling and that you consider all the conceivable ramifications that this innovative idea might have for people after uploading their mind! Much thanks for your comment and we’ll unquestionably have a more critical look to the point tended to.

  3. Very interesting points covered in the blog and it’s always a difficult pursuit to weigh out the positives and negatives of a digital and more connected global community. Role of AI and data is supreme in today’s world and when used for the right reasons, can be immensely powerful in solving some of the biggest crisis and challenges that we face as a global community. On the flipside, in the wrong hands, it can be just as threatening and there are a few examples starting to come to surface in the recent news, such as the social credit system trialled in china. The risk/reward ratio is difficult to estimate given no one has clarity of the full potential of this technology. Thinking very optimistically, cloud upload of the human mind can be a massive step forward assuming all the ‘RELEVANT’ billions of thoughts and ideas can be brought together to jointly solve problems suhc as those mentioned in the blog. It’ll however be naive to assume the goodness of this is larger in proportion to the monumental potential to cause global disharmony. I would lose my sleep if those in power today had access to the remaining unprogressive database of thoughts…yikes! It all boils down to good data/bad data and who gets access to each. Without a full blown global AI strategy and a competent global steering committee, i find the use of this tech greatly unbalanced towards risk.

  4. Uploading the mind onto a cloud database for the technology to leverage the intelligence of humankind is ingenious. We can expect revolutionary changes that can create a world far greater than humans can make it. Better, quicker more effective decision making with an integrated system of several minds put together will eliminate several potential blindspots. The question of the harm that this very system could cause remains, however, if humans throughout history focused on what could go wrong, and not persue further to accomplish what they dream of, in terms of technological advancement, we would be living in a very different, rather backward world. Great things can be expected from this, greater than what we have ever seen.

  5. In my opinion, giving to someone access to explore and develop your own mind seems like a great challenge. I can imagine that we can do great things as human beings by using a much larger percentage of our mind, by knowing that only 10% of our brain is being utilised at the moment. On the other hand, I believe is too risky giving control of your whole mind to a technological equipment. Also, it is important that ethics of this issue have to come in line with religions, its beliefs, its traditions and expectations. This is what primarily makes me believe that this might not be such a great idea to go forward with this technology since a lot of judgement about this from the society might lead to reproving its licensing.

  6. Very interesting article! I think that uploading the brain to the cloud is risky. There is already a negative backlash against companies like facebook in regards to misuse of our data. Imagine the potential for misuse of all the information contained in your brain!
    Even with tight regulations and secure storage I don’t think I could ever feel at ease knowing all my experiences were in the cloud. What happens if a hacker gains access or there is a security breach? Furthermore with the revelations of government level spying i.e snowden documents detailing the NSA, I think this technology could potentially be used as a backhanded way of monitoring citizens, even if currently sounds like a nonsensical conspiracy in this day and age!

  7. A very interesting topic is being covered in this article! Since people began using artificial intelligence it has made their lives easier since one machine can now make the same thing as many people could in a shorter amount of time. The last few years using computers has changed many professions in a good way but on the other hand, people could lose their job because a machine could make a task faster.

    Uploading the human mind on the cloud sounds very fascinating. However, psychologists and neuroscientists are still doing numerous research on understanding the human brain, cognitive functions, behavior, thoughts, and consciousness. One of my thoughts is, even if people manage to find the answers to the latter, how easy could it be to write in an algorithm the human mind? Will the excitement of creating something tremendous like this become a disaster?

    Another interesting fact is who will be able to control the human minds on the cloud? Would it be controlled by governments, by businesses, or be an open-source where anyone could have access? One of the positive things could be that you would find the minds (emotions, thoughts, experiences etc.) of various people and use these for research. However, in order to limit any problems access should be limited. For example, you could find the mind of someone but never be able to control it or upload it to artificial intelligence. Could this work?

    Overall, an extremely fascinating but at the same time intriguing subject.

    I would recommend you to take a look at a TV Series called “Humans” which is based on robots and uploading human consciousness on these.

  8. A very interesting topic that generates all manner of debate. I was recently spending/wasting time browsing articles on whether our reality is actually a simulation, which ties in neatly to your article.

    From my course leader perspective I would suggest the following.
    Develop the argument against, I think there is a Kant’s theory/deontological argument you could apply here. Similarly, in the ‘for’ argument develop the ethical support. At the moment, your article is more about the technology, its appeal and repulsion and less about the ethical rationale for pursuing this approach. However, overall it’s an interesting topic, decidedly complex to judge and, perhaps, not yet possible.

    For the moment, I’m against this route. It seems like the suggestion is to give everyone a technological drug. Until we can be certain that our mental selves can live without our physical selves then the question of what happens to our bodies, who looks after them and who/what provides the power need to be answered.

    1. I’ve thought a bit further why I’m against. From a utilitarian point of view would this technology make us all happy. If happiness is derived from the sense of achievement one gains from overcoming challenges or achieving goals what opportunities exist in a virtual utopia? If the utopia is designed for us all to be happy, then that suggests limited challenges and minimal goals. Maybe you would need to populate the world with NHSs (non human sentients) so that a human would have someone to compete against in order to feel a sense of achievement upon victory.
      For example, I enjoy eating, but would the sensation of eating in a virtual world be as satisfying? Presumably, if I knew my mind had been uploaded, I would know that the process of eating wasn’t real. Therefore, the best way for me to experience this process would be for my mind to uploaded either without my consent or with my consent but at a randomly chosen point.

  9. This article is mad! really interesting! I am totally for this technology given its implications, however the benefits gained from it are far greater as shown by your ethical reasoning. I also believe its not long when we actually see this in action.

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