The book is presented in three sections. The first is a collection of hypothetical mind-uploading scenarios–thought experiments in effect. The research into its development, such as it is, consisted primarily of pooling together the vast array of such scenarios I have come across over the years, in addition to adding several scenarios on my own, scenarios which naturally suggested themselves as obvious “holes” in the taxonomy based on the classification criteria (e.g., concepts like destructive vs. nondestructive scanning, brain “replacement” vs. scan-and-copy, in-place procedures vs. out-of-place procedures, instantaneous vs. gradual (with a spectrum of “rates” in between), spectrums of spatial and temporal discontinuities, “division” procedures, etc. etc. etc.). The taxonomy essentially combines these variables combinatorially (but hierarchically, i.e., taxonomically) and briefly summarizes each procedure with a statement of the philosophical issues that scenario may raise, such as various inconsistencies in interpretation, risk of arbitrariness in judgement of such scenarios, and possible paradoxes which may be raised. Some items in the taxonomy were “researched” in that I knew about them from the literature (e.g., Hans Moravec’s bush robot). Others were included simply for being almost ubiquitously recognized even if it is less clear who originally invented them (e.g. nanobot-neuron replacement). Yet others are thoroughly described throughout the literature (freeze-slice-scan-and-emulate). The taxonomy is quite thorough. For example, it includes items which, while not conceptually a form of mind-uploading, are nevertheless logically identical and which often come up in debates, such as Star Trek style teleportation.
The second section presents my own theory of mind. It starts with rudimentary Platonic metaphysics and eventually develops a full-blown theory of brain, mind, and the relationship between the two. Again, the research, such as it is, is the natural evolution of my own philosophy in the presence of various others I have read (namely Chalmers, Dennett, Searle, and of course older ideas like Descartes)…but actually, my philosophy is mostly my own, simply the natural consequence of my conceptualization of what brains are and how minds arise from them. Again, such research is less “grinding through the library” and more “life experience”. For example, my undergraduate focus was bio-psych (essentially physiological (aka, neurological) psychology with an emphasis on how neurology underlies behavior). My graduate work, then in computer science, after exploring many various avenues (with a heavy diversion toward artificial life and genetic algorithms) eventually settled on more classical artificial intelligence techniques, primarily various forms of tree search and optimizations there-on.
Toward the end of the second section, I draw my primary conclusion, the climax of the book. However, I am nervous to state it here, for I am well aware that it is a contentious position, and without reading through the second section in completion, few readers will really understand the force of the argument I believe supports my final position on mind-uploading analysis. To merely state it is to offer it for quick dismissal. I would really prefer that people read the second section first. In short, I’m not a fan of judging the success or failure of a mind-uploading scenario (in the purported goal of transferring a mind from a brain to a computer) by merely inquiring the opinion on the matter of the biological original subject (in the case of a nondestructive procedure). I consider that sort of analysis to be a form of prejudice.
I offer a few tangential chapters, such as a curious discussion of dualism and consciousness, and more importantly, but even less related to mind-uploading, my own theory of free-will, which I believe is relatively unheard of (I haven’t read such a view anywhere before).
The third section is short. It analyzes a few selections from the taxonomy as viewed from the philosophy of mind presented in the second section of the book.
Ultimately, my hope for the book is that even if readers don’t accept the argument I make at the end of the second section with regard to how we should interpret mind-uploading thought experiments, I still strongly hope that any reader will find the first section, the taxonomy, interesting and useful in his or her own thought experiments. I tried to keep the first section as applicable as possible. It is simply a testbed of thought experiments against which to hone one’s own philosophy of these issues.
“Starting with a very useful description of the ways that minds may be uploaded in the future, this book steps through some of the key philosophical issues that mind uploading poses. What is consciousness? Is there personal identity? What would the relationship of an organic person be to his mind clone? If we can copy minds would that mean there is no free will? This book makes a useful contribution to a debate that our children will undoubtedly have a stake in.”
–JAMES J. HUGHES PH.D. * Executive Director, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies * Author, Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond to the Redesigned Human of the Future“Along with AGI, life extension and cyborgs, mind uploading is going to be one of the major transformative technologies in the next century. Keith Wiley has done us all a favor by providing the most careful conceptual analysis of mind uploading that I’ve seen. The book is bound to become the standard reference regarding the various types of possible mind uploading, and the philosophical and scientific issues involved with each. As mind uploading moves closer to reality, his analysis and others inspired by it will provide valuable practical guidance to scientists and engineers working on the technology, as well as ordinary people making decisions about their own potential uploading to alternate physical substrates.”
–BEN GOERTZEL PH.D. * CEO of Novamente * Vice Chair at Humanity+ Magazine * Chief Scientist at Aidyia Holdings * Advisor to the Singularity Institute“Keith Wiley artfully blends key concepts, philosophy, and nascent technologies together in a fascinating work on mind uploading. His coverage of the field is broad and deep, and jolts readers to see that a spark at the end of the tunnel can now be seen in moving this technology from science fiction to science reality.”
–ERIC KLIEN * President of the Lifeboat Foundation“Keith Wiley has been involved with the pursuit of technology to accomplish mind uploading or whole brain emulation almost since the very moment those ideas crystalized and the terminology was born. In this book, he has diligently applied that long experience and his attention to detail. Carefully separating and describing the different paths and possible issues on the way to mind uploading, Wiley anchors the science and its philosophy. If you have ever been confused by the cornucopia of concepts bandied about, or if you want to dig deeply into the possibilities and consequences of mind uploading, then this book is for you.”
–RANDAL A. KOENE PH.D. * Founder & CEO of Carboncopies.org * Founder of Minduploading.org * Science Director for the 2045 Initiative * Co-founder of the Neural Engineering Corporation * past Director of the Department of Neuroengineering at Tecnalia