[ExI] The Parallel Man

Adrian Tymes atymes at gmail.com
Mon Oct 10 16:24:02 UTC 2011

On Mon, Oct 10, 2011 at 6:20 AM, Ben Zaiboc <bbenzai at yahoo.com> wrote:
> This is my preferred uploading scenario, if it can be made a reality, and I think it would appeal to a wider set of people than the upload scenarios that put the willies up the crypto-dualists, like destructive scanning.

Not to mention, it has a bit more historical precedent.  Replacing
one's brain bit
by bit is a famous philosophical scenario posed quite some time ago.  See
"Brain replacement scenario" under
among other sources.

> Crucially, it's an experiment that a sceptic could perform, with confidence that they could just disconnect and continue as normal, at any time.  They could find out 'what it's like to be an upload', in a completely reversible way.

Not sure it's reversible.  Once a biological neuron is disconnected,
what happens to it?
I suspect it would soon no longer be usable for its original function
- not without
significant reconditioning, if at all.

> I had an idea.  If there was a way to produce a unique 'address' for each neuron in the brain (e.g. an ion channel that would only open when a specific signal was received), you'd have a way to precisely target and fire any individual neuron, using a broadcast signal that wouldn't need to be tightly-focused.  I'm wondering if there's a way to introduce a gene that's guaranteed to be unique in each cell, or creates a unique ion channel.  Something that effectively gives a cell a GUID, with the ability to be fired by a specific coded signal.  With nanotech, it would probably be easy, but could we do it with the techniques we have atm?  I think maybe we could, with a bit of ingenuity.

No, because at the moment, there's no way to assign an address to a
neuron in a way
that it would react to that address.  To do this, you would need to
have something that
could go into the brain and physically touch each neuron - and assign
a different
address upon each touch.  (Though, this latter part might be
accomplished by having it
calculate the address based on the intensity of 3 or more signals
transmitted from
outside the head, letting it calculate its 3 dimensional coordinates.
Embryos do much
the same thing, using gradients of chemical signals to tell each given
cell if it's forming
a head or a leg, and thus which sequence of formation events to follow.)

Granted, it's not impossible to conceive of the things we'd need to
do, to develop this.
Certain proteins can cross the blood-brain barrier, carrying nutrients
to the neurons.
It's theoretically possible to modify some to add this interface.  But
the capability does
not exist today.

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