Whole brain emulation

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Whole Brain Emulation or WBE is a proposed technique which involves transferring the information contained within a brain onto a computing substrate. The brain can then be simulated, creating a machine intelligence. The concept is often discussed in context of scanning the brain of a person, known as Mind uploading. WBE is sometimes seen as an easy way to intelligent computers, as the only innovations necessary are greatly increased processor speed and scanning resolution. Advocates of Whole Brain Emulation claim technological improvement rates such as Moore's law will make WBE inevitable.

The exact level of detail required for an accurate simulation of a brain's mind is presently uncertain, and will determine the difficulty of creating WBE. A possible means of brain scanning could be brain-computer interfaces, if parts of one's mind were already digital or the equipment, in communicating with the brain, could be continuously scanning it. The feasibility of such a project has been examined in detail by the Future of Humanity Institute which concluded that a human brain emulation would be possible before the mid-century providing investment and computing power continued to grow. The Singularity Institute believes that an uploaded mind could also pose an existential risk.

A digitally emulated brain will have several huge advantages over a biological one. It will be able to directly modify the algorithms comprising it, add additional modules to itself, directly modify its goals, preferences, biases, and in general change anything it doesn't like about itself. A emulated brain will also be able to copy itself, communicate and cooperate with others perfectly, and have an indefinite life span. Whole brain emulation will also create a number of ethical challenges relating to the nature of personhood, rights, and social inequality. Robin Hanson proposes that an uploaded mind might copy itself to work until the cost of running a copy was that of its labour, making unemployed vast amounts of people.

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