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Steam ponies would be awesome. I'll go place my order for a Rolls-Royce Pegasus right now!
" If singularitarians were 19th century engineers, they’d be the ones talking about our glorious future of transportation by proposing to hack up horses and replace their muscles with hydraulics. Yes, that’s the future: steam-powered robot horses. And if we shovel more coal into their bellies, they’ll go faster!"

Oy, singularitarians. Chris Hallquist has a post up about the brain uploading problem — every time I see this kind of discussion, I cringe at the simple-minded naivete that’s always on display. Here’s...
Carapace M's profile photoMike DeSimone's profile photoJason Meador's profile photoLuke Parrish's profile photo
Wait, yeah! Why didn't we just DO that?!?
Do-over time, 20th century- wind it back to the invention of cars and make 'em auto-ponies instead of wheeled carts. Yeah, it's mechanically much more complicated and maybe even unworkable with early steam materials! But you're missing the larger point: STEAM PONIES. Let's go! We have a dream to make!
+Luke Parrish Well, I'm going to have to be unfair and say that I don't feel like reading a 100+ page paper in order to critique it unless I'm going to get a publication out of it. So I'm working from incomplete data here.

In those three links, it seemed that PZ's main complaints were about the scanning process, but the responses were about emulation issues, which come up after and assuming a successful scan. Since we're talking tech two centuries hence, it's all wild speculation... so my speculation is that entropppy is going to be a more difficult opponent than it's being credited with.

First off, scanning a dead brain seems pointless: physical processes are probably already breaking down the data storage before you get the thing frozen (water crystallization from freezing also damages things). Scanning a live brain is unlikely to work unless you can somehow take a snapshot of the whole system at a particular instant; even unconscious or under anaesthesia, the brain is constantly changing its state.

Second, dismissing concerns related to the difference between axon signaling speed and electromagnetic wave speed in copper seems to be rather optimistic. There's a level of care that is needed in designing a computational system such that it can run at the fastest allowable speed without generating incorrect results; look up asynchronous computing. And bear in mind that even though asynchronous computing has been around a long time, nobody uses it, because synchronous (clock-driven) computing is just so much easier to deal with. Correct operation can't be trivialized either; it's the whole point. Further, due to signaling times, the brain can create timings and synchronization that may not replicate in a simulation unless it is run at the same speed as the axons.

Third, the interface to the outside world is going to take some serious mapping. But let's assume that one gets whipped. If you can scan a brain, you can probably map the neurons in the optic nerve. If you don't get it right, everything is going to look wrong and you won't be sure why.

Fourth, if anything fails, you die. I really haven't seen much consideration for failure recovery in any of these discussions.

I've found that I really can't take the singularity stuff any more seriously than discussions of Star Trek physics. A fun diversion, but not really very likely.
+Mike DeSimone Thanks, you raise some interesting points.

On the first point, seems most popular conceptions of uploading involve chemical fixation not freezing. However there is cryonics. In a good cryonics case you would saturate with high enough cryoprotectant concentrations to vitrify, meaning the tissue would be a glassy solid.

On the asynchronous computing issue, sounds like there are benefits to using a synchronous circuit rather than doing everything at the maximum physically possible rate. What kinds of performance differences would we be talking about here?

Regarding mapping inputs to the outside world, well that is assuming the goal is to have the person interact directly (through a robotic body or something) as opposed to asynchronously through video and text messages. The person would need a virtual world (and body) of at least the minimum configuration to keep them sane.

If the person dies after uploading, it's the same as any other kind of database corruption -- you either restore from a backup or stop the process and try to repair the damage. If they don't get scanned well enough to start with, they are kind of out of luck. Definitely start with animal models before trying on humans.
Yeah, speaking as an angry working-poor populist with a lot of guns, I am insta-skeptical of nearly all futurism, because hardly any of it bothers to take the Lowport view of acknowledging the fact that class is always an issue. That chip on my shoulder isn't even silicon, much less gallium/arsenide. Tell me what happens to everyone who doesn't have a neurojack before you try to sell me on the idea of cloud consciousness. Remember all those "Kitchen Of The FUTURE!!1!" short films that were all the rage in the Space Age? Notice how there were never any Negroes in Teh Future?

That said, we need full-conversion cybernetics YESTERDAY. People with degenerative conditions ain't gettin' any younger, and I can kill as many wealthy twits as I need to if money is the only thing keeping my cripplewife from being able to run and jump.

...Come to think of it, they really do need to address that issue before they move forward on this, because I am not even joking.
+Jason Meador Agreed on the urgent need for full conversion cybernetics. It's a hard problem, keeping an organ like the brain alive without a body for life support (otherwise we'd be doing something like this already for keeping donated organs alive). You would have to simulate many of the signals from the rest of the body and manufacture the required biochemicals for its long term survival.

My intuition (and I'm trying not to be naive but I could be failing) is that if you had a system designed to keep the brain alive, it would be much simpler than a system that keeps every other organ alive because it wouldn't have to do as much work.

To create the needed biochemical components you might culture cells from the organs being replaced (like they are doing with liver cells), or you might culture bacteria custom-engineered to do the same thing. (We have this to some extent with insulin-producing bacteria.) There could perhaps be mechanical/digitally controlled replacements for the parts that determine exact rates of release, responses to changing conditions, etc.
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