Volume 1, Issue 4
4th Quarter, 2006

Indirect Mind Uploading:
Using AI to Avoid Staying Dead

Paul Almond

This article was submitted for inclusion within the Journal of Personal Cyberconsciousness by Paul Almond. The article originally appeared on the paul-almond.com website and can be read in its entirety there.


"In heaven’s name, can we call anything human long? Even if we lived as long as Arganthonius, the King of the Tartessi, who reigned, so it is recorded, eighty years, and lived to the age of a hundred and twenty, still, it seems to me, nothing that has an end is long."
 - An Essay on Old Age, Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43BCE)

Our limited lifespan is inconvenient at best. Let’s look for a loophole! I want one that we can use now rather than in a few hundred years and one that uses artificial intelligence. I will explore possible loopholes and then discuss indirect mind uploading, the main topic of this article.

Not Dying in the First Place

"I don't want to achieve immortality through my work.
I want to achieve it through not dying."
- Woody Allen

If being dead is undesirable, then not dying in the first place seems to be a good way of trying to avoid ending up like this. Some people think that this is quite achievable in the future, at least if one wants to delay death for a very long time and not necessarily forever; others are skeptical that it will ever be possible.

Proponents of the idea of using scientific knowledge to delay death indefinitely can point to work in biochemistry that has lead to a greater understanding of the basic mechanisms that control life and they can also point to the idea of molecular nanotechnology [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] proposed by K. Eric Drexler. This idea involves acquiring the ability to build structures to an accuracy of 1 nanometer (one millionth of a millimeter), allowing machines to be built on the molecular scale. These machines would be able to manipulate individual atoms and could easily synthesize new molecules or make changes at the molecular level to biological systems. The hope is that they could perform medical intervention at a much greater level than is possible with our current "bulk matter handling" technology.

Image 1: Graphic representation of a nanomachine. The colored balls represent the individual atoms that comprise the machine. Copyright, Twibell, T.S. (2000). "Nano Law The Legal Implications of Self-Replicating Nanotechnology"

There is one problem, though: I want to present a method that people could use now and, whether one accepts the idea of nanotechnology or not, all this would seem to require some science and technology that is not available today.

Using Cryonics to Avoid Staying Dead
When a person dies, he/she is considered dead because the body is severely damaged, but what is regarded as death depends on our ability, or lack of it, to reverse the process. We no longer consider a person whose lungs and heart have stopped to be necessarily dead because there is still a chance of intervening to restore functioning to them, but if cardiopulmonary resuscitation were not known to us we would probably declare death at this point.

There may be some other conditions, now considered to be death, which a future society will consider merely to be very serious forms of damage, from which recovery is possible. This is of little help to us though; soon after an individual dies, dissolution, or loss of the structure of the body, tends to follow, presumably putting hopes of a cure beyond the reach of any conceivable technology.

Next Page

1. Drexler, K.E. (1986). Engines of Creation. Published by Anchor Books. (back to top)

2. Drexler, K.E., Peterson, C., Pergamit, G. (2000). Unbounding the Future: the Nanotechnology Revolution. New York: William Morrow. (back to top)

3. Drexler, K.E. (1992). Nanosystems. New York: John Wiley and Sons Inc. (back to top)

4. The Foresight Institute. (1986-2002). Retrieved June 22, 2003 from http://www.foresight.org/ (back to top)

5. Zyvex. (n.d.) Retrieved June 22, 2003 from http://www.zyvex.com (back to top)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 next page>