Originally published March 25, 2017
Here is an excerpt:
The relevant science for whole brain emulation is, as you’d expect, hideously complicated, and its interpretation deeply ambiguous, but if I can risk a gross oversimplification here, I will say that it is possible to conceive of the idea as something like this: first, you scan the pertinent information in a person’s brain – the neurons, the endlessly ramifying connections between them, the information-processing activity of which consciousness is seen as a byproduct – through whatever technology, or combination of technologies, becomes feasible first (nanobots, electron microscopy, etc). That scan then becomes a blueprint for the reconstruction of the subject brain’s neural networks, which is then converted into a computational model. Finally, you emulate all of this on a third-party non-flesh-based substrate: some kind of supercomputer or a humanoid machine designed to reproduce and extend the experience of embodiment – something, perhaps, like Natasha Vita-More’s Primo Posthuman.
The whole point of substrate independence, as Koene pointed out to me whenever I asked him what it would be like to exist outside of a human body, – and I asked him many times, in various ways – was that it would be like no one thing, because there would be no one substrate, no one medium of being. This was the concept transhumanists referred to as “morphological freedom” – the liberty to take any bodily form technology permits.
“You can be anything you like,” as an article about uploading in Extropy magazine put it in the mid-90s. “You can be big or small; you can be lighter than air and fly; you can teleport and walk through walls. You can be a lion or an antelope, a frog or a fly, a tree, a pool, the coat of paint on a ceiling.”
The article is here.