GCC How the Singularity Is Impacting Healthcare Questions

1. statement of interest (problem statement):  Describe the major themes represented in Singularity science fiction. Articulate the differences between “consciousness,” “mind” and “brain.”

2. current situation (data, policy…): Describe ideas that underlie “the death of death” Describe how this is an “event horizon.”

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3. goal(s): Describe the meChanics of uploading one’s mind/brain/consciousness to the cloud.

4. solutions: Describe “solutions” that are created by uploading one’s “self” to the cloud.

5. current example: Describe one example of how the Singularity is impacting healthcare now.

Below are links that could help answer the questions.

Will Your Uploaded Mind Still Be You? – WSJ
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Will Your Uploaded Mind Still Be You?
The day is coming when we will be able to scan our entire consciousness into a computer. How will
we coexist with our digital replicas?
By Michael S.A. Graziano
Sept. 13, 2019 10 53 am ET
Imagine a future in which a machine can scan your brain and migrate the essentials of your
mind to a computer. It’s called mind uploading—preserving a person’s consciousness in a
digital afterlife. As a neuroscientist, I’m convinced that mind uploading will happen someday.
There are no laws of physics that stand in the way. It depends, however, on technology that has
not yet been invented, so nobody knows when mind uploading might become available.
The brain relies on an elegant, underlying principle: A simple working part, the neuron, is
repeated over and over to create complexity. The human brain contains about 86 billion
neurons interconnected by about 100 trillion synapses. Information flows and transforms
through those vast connected networks in complex and unpredictable patterns, creating the
To upload a person’s mind, at least two technical challenges would need to be solved. First, we
would need to build an artificial brain made of simulated neurons. Second, we would need to
scan a person’s actual, biological brain and measure exactly how its neurons are connected to
each other, to be able to copy that pattern in the artificial brain. Nobody knows if those two
steps would really re-create a person’s mind or if other, subtler aspects of the biology of the
brain must be copied as well, but it is a good starting place.
The first technical challenge is all but solved. Engineers already know how to create artificial,
simulated neurons and connect them together through synapses. We can simulate networks of
Will Your Uploaded Mind Still Be You? – WSJ
thousands or even millions of neurons. The modern wonders of artificial intelligence, like Siri or
self-driving cars, depend on large artificial neural networks. Simulating a brain with 86 billion
neurons is a little beyond current technology, but probably not for long. Computer technology is
always improving.
The second challenge is much harder. A team of scientists at Albert Einstein College of
Medicine recently used an electron microscope to map the complete “connectome”—the
pattern of connectivity among all neurons—in a roundworm, a tiny creature that has about 300
neurons. The task required almost 10 years. It’s a milestone. But to upload a human brain, we
probably want a scanner that doesn’t kill the subject, and we would need it to scan about a
hundred million times as many details. That technology doesn’t yet exist. The most wildly
optimistic predictions place mind uploading within a few decades, but I would not be surprised
if it took centuries.
However long the technology takes, it seems likely to be a part of our future, so it’s worth taking
a moment now to think about the implications. What will mind-uploading mean for us
philosophically and morally?
Suppose I decide to have my brain scanned and my mind uploaded. Obviously, nobody knows
what the process will really entail, but here’s one scenario: A conscious mind wakes up. It has
my personality, memories, wisdom and emotions. It thinks it’s me. It can continue to learn and
remember, because adaptability is the essence of an artificial neural network. Its synaptic
connections continue to change with experience.
(that is,
me) looks
around and
himself in a
nt. If that
world is
Carrie-Anne Moss and Keanu Reeves in ‘The Matrix’ (1999). PHOTO: WARNER BROS EVERETT COLLECTION rendered
well, it will
look pretty much like the real world, and his virtual body will look like a real body. Maybe simme is assigned an apartment in a simulated version of Manhattan, where he lives with a whole
population of other uploaded people in digital bodies. Sim-me can enjoy a stroll through the
digitally rendered city on a beautiful day with always perfect weather. Smell, taste and touch
Will Your Uploaded Mind Still Be You? – WSJ
might be muted because of the overwhelming bandwidth required to handle that type of
information. By and large, however, sim-me can think to himself, “Ah, that upload was worth
the money. I’ve reached the digital afterlife, and it’s a safe and pleasant place to live. May the
computing cloud last indefinitely!”
But what does biological me think? I leave the scanning facility feeling like I’ve wasted my
money. I’m just as mortal as I was when I walked in. Sure, somewhere in the cloud a copy of me
exists. I could even have a phone conversation with that copy and argue over who is the real me.
But in the end, bio-me feels cheated.
Philosophically, what is the relationship between
sim-me and bio-me? One way to understand it is
through geometry. Imagine that my life is like the
rising stalk of the letter Y. I was born at the base,
computer? Join the conversation below.
and as I grew up, my mind was shaped and
changed along a trajectory. One day, I have my
mind uploaded. At that moment, the Y branches.
There are now two trajectories, each one convinced that it’s the real me. Let’s say the left
branch is the sim-me and the right branch is the bio-me. The two branches proceed along
Would you upload your mind to a
different life paths, with different accumulating experiences. The right-hand branch will
inevitably die. The left-hand branch can live indefinitely, and in it, the stalk of the Y will also live
on as memories and experiences.
Have I really achieved digital immortality? The heart of the problem lies in that word, “really.”
Neither one of us is the “real” me. We form an extended, branching geometry. That geometry
might not stop at two branches, either. One could imagine a much more twiggy tree that is still,
collectively, “me.” The idea of the individual would need to be revised or thrown out entirely.
It’s a hard world to think about with any intuitive comfort because, of course, nobody has had
any experience with it yet. We’re all used to going to sleep at night, experiencing a form of little
death and then waking up as someone who is 99.9%, but not exactly, the same. We don’t obsess
over whether yesterday’s me died and a new person has been foisted on us in its place. We’re all
so used to the process that we don’t think about it much. With mind uploading, we’d have to get
used to a different concept of the continuity of life.
In science fiction, the philosophical conundrum of a branching geometry is usually
conveniently avoided. For example, in the movie “Tron” (1982), arguably the first really popular
mind-uploading fantasy, when a person enters the digital world, his physical self magically
disappears, and when he leaves the digital world, his physical self reappears. That way, you
never have to think about two of him at the same time. In “The Matrix” (1999), each person has
Will Your Uploaded Mind Still Be You? – WSJ
only one mind that can
experience the physical world or
be plugged into the simulated
world of the matrix.
This kind of gimmick is a clever
storytelling device that makes
the fantasy digestible to the
modern mind. But when mind
Bruce Boxleitner in ‘Tron’ (1982). PHOTO: BUENA VISTA EVERETT COLLECTION
uploading arrives for real, we
will have to adjust to
personhood as something more
like a data file that can be duplicated and morphed into multiple versions.
Let’s think through the implications even further. Technologically, there is nothing to stop simme from connecting to the real world, calling or Skyping, keeping up to date on the latest news,
day-trading or remote-conferencing. Sim-me may live in sim-Manhattan with other uploaded
minds, but with my personality and memories, he will love my family just as I do and will want
to interact with them. Sim-me will have the same political views and want to vote; he will have
the same intellectual interests and want to return to the job he remembers and still loves. He’ll
want to be part of the world.
Biological people would become a larval stage of human.
And what would stop him? He may live
in the cloud, with a simulated instead
of a physical body, but his leverage on
the real world would be as good as anyone else’s. We already live in a world where almost
everything we do flows through cyberspace. We keep up with friends and family through text
and Twitter, Facebook and Skype. We keep informed about the world through social media and
internet news. Even our jobs, some of them at least, increasingly exist in an electronic space. As
a university professor, for example, everything I do, including teaching lecture courses, writing
articles and mentoring young scientists, could be done remotely, without my physical presence
in a room.
The same could be said of many other jobs—librarian, CEO, novelist, artist, architect, member
of Congress, President. So a digital afterlife, it seems to me, wouldn’t become a separate place,
utopian or otherwise. Instead, it would become merely another sector of the world, inhabited
by an ever-growing population of citizens just as professionally, socially and economically
connected to social media as anyone else.
In that imagined future, who would accumulate the most power? One possible answer is the
people who live in the simulated world. They’ve already built a lifetime of political and
economic connections. Once uploaded, they’ll have centuries to accumulate more resources and
Will Your Uploaded Mind Still Be You? – WSJ
to expand their empires of influence. People who live in the physical world would be mere
neophytes in comparison. Biological people would become a larval stage of human, each of
them aspiring to be among the lucky few who are allowed to metamorphose into the immortal
elites who own the world.
A second possible answer is that the most powerful people would be those who control access
to the simulated world. Think about how religions work. People at the top tell you that if you
behave well, you’ll enter heaven, and if you behave badly, you may end up in eternal
punishment. A lot of wars have been fought based on that kind of motivation. We’re told that
suicide bombers are promised rewards in the afterlife. And yet, religious demagogues offer an
afterlife that can’t be objectively confirmed. It’s an insubstantial carrot and stick.
Imagine the coercive power of an afterlife that is directly confirmable. The public could Skype
with people who are in a digital heaven and (if the technology turns very dark) in a digital hell.
Advertisers have known for a long time that nothing convinces people as powerfully as
personal testimonial. Imagine if we all had access to the testimonials of people actually in the
afterlife. Now imagine a political leader who offers that objectively confirmable heaven in
return for loyalty and hell in return for betrayal. At that point, the gatekeepers of the digital
afterlife gain a level of power that is impossible for anyone today to really understand.
And yet, a future with
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mind-uploading may
not be entirely dark. It
would allow for the
accumulation of
wisdom. Currently, we
can accumulate
knowledge. The
invention of writing,
five thousand years
ago, gave us our primary tool for trans-generational accumulation of knowledge, and it also
gave us the modern world.
But a wise, thoughtful mind has never been able to live across generations. Mind uploading
would give us a powerful new way to accumulate skill and wisdom. It could cause as much of a
change in human civilization as writing did.
And mind uploading may give us one more remarkable benefit. Currently, we are not a spacefaring species, and it’s hard to imagine how we ever can be. Our bodies are fragile, the cosmic
rays that permeate space are toxic to us, and we don’t live long enough to go anywhere
interesting. The fastest rockets today would take about 50,000 years to reach Alpha Centauri,
the nearest star.
Will Your Uploaded Mind Still Be You? – WSJ
Yet all of these obstacles could be overcome by mind uploading. We could have whole colonies
of minds, keeping each other company in a virtual environment, sent off to explore the galaxy
without any intrinsic limit of time or space. The only way for us to become a truly space-faring
civilization might be not by building a spaceship environment to house the human body but by
building a platform to carry the human mind. Arguably, mind uploading is humanity’s most
obvious path into a deep future unburdened by our mortality or the fate of our terrestrial home.
Dr. Graziano is a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Princeton University. This essay
is adapted from his new book “Rethinking Consciousness: A Scientific Theory of Subjective
Experience,” which will be published by W.W. Norton on Sept. 17.
Copyright © 2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved
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