What we are living now is forever. Gary Vaynerchuck talks about it is book Crush It and also in this video. What we express now is recorded and will be available in the future exactly as it is today. Basically we put some data into our blogs, facebook, twitter… We live in the real world, our brain captures data, analyzes it, process it and we put more more of this data (the ones called ideas) back on Internet. You may think that it is kind of like books or newspapers or TV but there is a great difference. The difference is that all the data we put here is linked. Plus it evolves, it is copied, edited. We put different kinds of media (images, sounds, writings) and all that linked together defines our digital selves as Everett Bogue extraordinarily defined in his last post.
It is difficult to live in the now. We can but most of the time we are living in the past or thinking about the future. Right now, as I am writing I am thinking of the past and the future so that I make sense in this post. How do I go from the beginning to the end. I have a pretty clear idea of how it will be after all the editing.
By living in the past and the future and creating data, memories, artifacts around us we are doing one thing : we are constructing an image of ourself and we are living for others. Our existence is mostly defined by what our family, friends, colleagues perceive of us. It is probably not exactly the image we want to show but it is the image others get. After our death we will be remembered that way and in a way we will still exist as this image we created for others.
What is interesting in our time is that we try to control what we put on Internet and we can preview what is the image we give. We don’t have to but we do. We correct and craft our blog posts, we choose a nice picture as an avatar, we try to connect with the popular people, we try to show our bright side. Really it looks like high school.
What a lot of us don’t consider is precisely how it is not like high school. All that output stays there. You let some artifacts, some traces everywhere you go and your clients or your employers or your kids will google it in 10 or 30 or 70 years. You can take it as a risk or just say you don’t care but is it really what you want? You control what you put out there and there is no hiding even if you spend 2 hours figuring out facebook privacy settings. Plus you don’t want to be hidden, because in our time hidden equals nonexistent.
We are still living in a period where the boundaries between real and virtual world are clear. But it will be blurry sooner than you think. We will have new interfaces. The power, memory, speed of computers will grow in the next years. Scientist evaluate that in around 15 years we will have enough super-computer power to upload a human mind. Other sources, like Ian Pearson, declare it will be available in 50 years. That means we will be able to copy all the connections your brain has.
How is that possible? Basically by creating a virtual neural networks to represent your brain. Your brain is a neural network and we will be able to reproduce it inside a machine. (I can talk to you for hours about neural networks, I just erased a whole paragraph from this post… Maybe another time, I think if I start you may get bored). I am not talking about an interface that connects our brain to a machine. I mean our brain will be duplicated in a machine. There are still a lot of unknowns and all the biochemical aspects of the “real” neurons have to be clearly figured out, but it will be possible. It may not be perfect at first but we are going to be surprised I think.
What is intriguing is if you put that in correlation with the concepts of “the cloud” or what Kevin Kelly calls The One. In 15 years, most of the computer power will be one thing, a vast neural network of computers and servers and terminals. What will happen exactly when we are going to be able to upload your mind? Is it going to stay on one machine? I doubt it. As everything will be connected, your neurons will be on different sites. I know, it’s freaky.
The whole power of this super network/computer will exceed the power of your actual brain. Scientists estimate that we will be able to compute one year of thinking in 34 seconds. That will create a distorsion of our perception of time. Will we want to control the processor speed? Again, I know, it is super freaky.
All those facts are mind-blowing (no pun intended). There are a lot of ethical and philosophical issue of course and I honestly don’t think ethics will be respected. Look at what has happened with cloning. We are going to have some huge questions… big time, my friends…
- What about search engines? Will they be able to search your mind? What are your mind metatags?
- How will privacy be respected? We are not talking about the picture on which you show your butt on facebook. We are talking about the last bit at the edge of your mind. We already have a hard time maintaining privacy settings in social networks. Are we all going to share all that propulsed by super high-speed processor?
- And what about our body? and the physical world? The question of physical possessions will be one of the great aspects of that revolution.
- What about eternity? Ok so I am going to die but my mind-copy will stay somewhere, evolving somewhere. It means in a way we ould have the possibility to be eternal. or more exactly having a copy of us who/which is eternal?
I am a firm believer that our mind is not just neural connections. It may be possible that this mind uploading technology will open science to observe what is beyond neurons.
Who is in?
When that happens it will be kind of quick. It’s like bluray discs at the beginning it is only a kind of elite, the early adopters, who try it and sooner than you think it is in your living room. Or think of when we talked about cloning in Jurassic park. It wasn’t long after that that real cloning was performed.
There will clearly be a division a new frontier between people who are in and the others. New tribes. I don’t now what will happen to me, what I will want or need to do at that time, but it will be a time of great changes. Who will be these new individuals? Who will we be?
So I am asking you: on which side will you be?
I intend to study this whole mind-uploading, post-humanism thing a lot. I am really intrigued. I’ll keep you updated of what I find and what I think. Don’t hesitate to subscribe to my RSS or receive all the new posts by email.
Again I am a firm believer that our mind or our soul is more and is deeper than electric and chemical connections.