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 creating intelligent computers, as the only innovations necessary are greatly increased processor speed and scanning resolution. Advocates of WBE 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. Brain-computer interfaces may permit WBE, by slowly replacing portions of the brain with computers and allowing the mind to grow onto a computing substrate. 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 advantages over a biological one. It might be able to run faster than biological brains, copy itself, and take advantage of backups while experimenting with self-modification. 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, vastly increasing the amount of wealth in the world but also causing mass unemployment. The ability to copy uploads could also lead to drastic changes in society's values, with the values of the uploads that got copied the most coming to dominate.

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