Originally posted March 19, 2018
Nectome promises to preserve the brains of terminally ill people in order to turn them into computer simulations -- at some point in the future when such a thing is possible. It's a startup that's easy to mock. 1 Just beyond the mockery, however, lies an important reminder to remain skeptical of modern artificial intelligence technology.
The idea behind Nectome is known to mind uploading enthusiasts (yes, there's an entire culture around the idea, with a number of wealthy foundations backing the research) as "destructive uploading": A brain must be killed to map it. That macabre proposition has resulted in lots of publicity for Nectome, which predictably got lumped together with earlier efforts to deep-freeze millionaires' bodies so they could be revived when technology allows it. Nectome's biggest problem, however, isn't primarily ethical.
The company has developed a way to embalm the brain in a way that keeps all its synapses visible with an electronic microscope. That makes it possible to create a map of all of the brain's neuron connections, a "connectome." Nectome's founders believe that map is the most important element of the reconstructed human brain and that preserving it should keep all of a person's memories intact. But even these mind uploading optimists only expect the first 10,000-neuron network to be reconstructed sometime between 2021 and 2024.
The information is here.