Science fiction enthusiasts have a positive attitude to the digitizing of the brain — ScienceDaily

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“Mind upload is a technology rife with unsolved philosophical questions,” says researcher Michael Laakasuo.

“For example, is the potential for conscious experiences transmitted when the brain is copied? Does the digital brain have the ability to feel pain, and is switching off the emulated brain comparable to homicide? And what might potentially everlasting life be like on a digital platform?”

A positive attitude from science fiction enthusiasts

Such questions can be considered science fiction, but the first breakthroughs in digitising the brain have already been made: for example, the nervous system of the roundworm (C. elegans) has been successfully modelled within a Lego robot capable of independently moving and avoiding obstacles. Recently, the creation of a functional digital copy of the piece of a somatosensory cortex of the rat brain was also successful.

Scientific discoveries in the field of brain digitisation and related questions are given consideration in both science fiction and scientific journals in philosophy. Moralities of Intelligent Machines, a research group working at the University of Helsinki, is investigating the subject also from the perspective of moral psychology, in other words mapping out the tendency of ordinary people to either approve of or condemn the use of such technology.

“In the first sub-project, where data was collected in the United States, it was found that men are more approving of the technology than women. But standardising for interest in science fiction evened out such differences,” explains Laakasuo.

According to Laakasuo, a stronger exposure to science fiction correlated with a more positive outlook on the mind upload technology overall. The study also found that traditional religiousness is linked with negative reactions towards the technology.

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