Scientist Michael Laakasuo stated that “Mind upload is a technology rife with unsolved philosophical questions”. For instance, is it possible to transmit the conscious experience while copying the brain? What might be the everlasting life on the digital platform be like? Will the digital be able to feel discomfort and will it be considered as homicide if the emulated brain is switched off?
The positive reaction of science fiction buffs
Such queries for a common man might seem as a part of a sci-fi movie, but the initiative to digitize the brain has already started: The recent creation of a working digital copy of the part of a somatosensory cortex of the rat brain was successful. A Lego robot that can independently move with avoiding obstacles is created by modeling the nervous system of the roundworms (C. elegans).
Brain digitization related scientific discoveries and queries are considered valid in scientific journals in philosophy as well as science fiction. A research group working at the University of Helsinki is working on the concept of brain digitization figuring out whether to approve this innovative idea or to condemn it.
Laakasuo explains that “In the first subproject, 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”.
According to him, convention religiousness is related with nix towards the new machinery. The stronger the exposure of sci-fi movie, stronger the positive attitude towards mind uploading technology.
The negative reaction from those loathing sensitive to sexual matters.
According to another category of study, analyzing data collected in Finland, specified people criticized the over-all uploading of human consciousness irrespective of the objective, be it a computer, an android, or a chimpanzee.
The third project, however, showed different results. Those who were troubled by suicide and death expressed a positive outlook towards the approval of technology. The scientists found strong evidence correlating disapproval of the mind upload technology and individuals who are disgust sensitive to sexual matters. Such people find lovemaking noises of neighbors and viewing of explicit content disgusting. Therefore, it came as a shocker when negative links were found between disapproval of mind upload technology and disgust sensitivity since technology by no means is associated with mate choice and procreation.
Technology is posing a basic challenge to understand human nature. In other words, the inability to reproduce with an individual who has digitized his or her brain make the research more sensible. One of the founding pillars of humanity i.e. sexuality will be considered obsolete as the digital copies of the human brain will have the potential to reproduce by division like an amoeba. With this finding, the link between condemnation of using the technology in the frame and sexual disgust seems rational.
Research funding for robotics and machine intelligence
The above research projects were sponsored by Aatos Erkko and the Jane Foundation, along with which the Moralities of Intelligent Machines project has received a contribution of €100,000 from the Weisell Foundation for one year of follow-up research. Mikko Voipio stated that if focused on robotics and machine intelligence, humanism has a great significance to research.
Michael Laakasuo considers funding prospect for artificial intelligence and robotic research on the moral psychology a bit hazy. However, the Moralities of Intelligent Machines group is thankful to the continuous interest of Finnish Society and both of its sponsors.