Where Is My Mind?

The Turing test is a proposal for a test of a machine's capability to demonstrate thought. A human judge engages in a natural language conversation with two other parties, one a human and the other a machine; if the judge cannot reliably tell which is which, then the machine is said to pass the test.

The way I see it, there are two ways to build a computer that can pass this test. The first way is to understand each one of the brain’s functionality and implement it by software. This means we must fully comprehend each aspect of human thinking in order to copy these successfully and fool the judge that the computer he’s talking to is actually a human. I don’t know why, but it seems all the A.I. scientists are trying to go this way when it’s clear we will need a full understanding of human psychology, logic, emotions, humor, etc. Seems like passing a Turing test this way is centuries away.

The other method is to focus on how a single brain cell works and interact with other brain cells, and then simply scan a human brain in great detail and recreate the whole neural network in software code. This seems to me like a much easier task since we don’t actually have to understand how humans think. We already understand pretty well how a neuron works and the mechanism behind brain cells interaction, so I think it can be achieved in a few decades. One problem with this method is that it may be necessary to slice the brain to small pieces while scanning, meaning the physical scanned human will be killed, but I’m sure there will be plenty of volunteers. Think about it, moving from a carbon-based existence to a silicon-based implementation will make you almost immortal; no aging, no diseases, no car accidents, and you will always be able to backup your brain somewhere and restore it if needed. In addition to that you will have many extra bonuses like almost infinite number of virtual worlds to visit, lightning-fast thinking and more. I believe in a few decades, many people, myself included, will take this leap into virtual-only existence on a hard disk and live in a matrix-like world - probably on some Google hosting server :-)

While uploading the human society, will we take the opportunity to omit old “negative” human behaviors like aggression that was once necessary for human carbon-based biological evolution on Earth, in order to create a “better” human civilization? I don’t think a scanned human will agree that a good-behavior-only filter will be applied to his personality while uploading it because it won’t be exactly him anymore, so it seems like our new society will be just as good (and bad) as the current one. So what will we do with all this virtual aggression? How about nuking you, the original human society… The existence of a physical civilization outside of our Google server will jeopardize us virtual inhabitants (somebody can push the “off” button on the server), so it’s only a matter of time when we (the virtual people) will try and destroy you (the physical people). Since us virtual humans will control every computer in the world and will be able to make decisions and take actions in a matter of nanoseconds – I’m afraid that if you won’t agree to give up your physical existence and join us - you’re doomed. Sorry, get uploaded or be terminated. Resistance is futile.

p.s. Can the second guy on the moon gloat over the third tenor?


Moti Karmona said...

Dave Bowman: Hello, HAL. Do you read me, HAL?

HAL: Affirmative, Dave, I read you.

Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay door, HAL.

HAL: I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.

Dave Bowman: What's the problem?

HAL: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.

Dave Bowman: What are you talking about, HAL?

HAL: This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.

Dave Bowman: I don't know what you're talking about, HAL.

HAL: I know you and Frank were planning to disconnect me, and I'm afraid that's something I cannot allow to happen.

Dave Bowman: Where the hell'd you get that idea, HAL?

HAL: Dave, although you took thorough precautions in the pod against my hearing you, I could see your lips move.

"2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968) - a conversation between astronaut Dave Bowman and the computer HAL 9000

Uri Kalish said...

great minds think alike

Theresa111 said...

I'm ready. When is take off?

"Sleeping Kitten - Dancing Dog!"

Vish..! said...

I found some kinda interesting subjects in here.. :D


Uri Kalish said...


Bob Johnson said...

Wow neat, but backing up my brain would be dangerous, cylons come to mind when I read this post, good work.

yair.h said...

BTW, HAL is a code name for IBM. just replace each of the I.B.M letters with the letter coming before. (H comes before I, etc).

About the post,
I don't think it makes so much different using a top-down or a bottom-up architecture. The complexity is the same.

I do think uploading minds might be feasible in the very far future only if we leave the old one-CPU-one-machine architecture and build computers with millions and billions of small CPUs.

Uri Kalish said...

Hi Yair,

1. Studying all the functions of the human brain + building a silicon brain <> "cheating on the test" + building a silicon brain.

2. Nanotechnology.

Alban, Teacher of God said...

The question of what I am doing, and why I am here would still remain in this new setup. Therefore, what is it good for to go virtual? Am I not already virtual?

Self-containment is self-containment, no matter if it is virtual or not.

Uri Kalish said...

Different people have different answers to questions like who are we and what are we here for, but regardless of the answers we come up with, it seems like almost all of us possess this instinct-level uncontrollable drive to live for as long as possible. Immortality (almost) can be achieved by virtualization, and since I believe there is no theoretical or practical barrier, this next evolutionary step (more like a leap ) is inevitable.

HDReader said...

WRT this..."The other method is to focus on how a single brain cell works and interact with other brain cells, and then simply scan a human brain in great detail and recreate the whole neural network in software code."

Google is gaining ground on a portion of this...the knowledge portion, the Web is the network...but now comes the mind/body/soul problem. The conscious soul of the net has yet to come about. Will this be invented or spontaneous? I say spontaneous because it's not going to come from anything less than a deity.

Uri Kalish said...


Self awareness can be achieved quite easily. You can claim every system that monitors itself has self awareness. In that sense, some parts of the web have already achieved self awareness. Off course, I’m evading the real issue… well…

Since I don’t believe in the existence of a deity or a soul (hope I won’t loose many readers because of this statement…), it seems like consciousness can actually spontaneously appear as a system becomes more complex, like it happened with us humans. A few years ago it has been claimed that all the computers on the internet combined have a calculation power equal to a single human brain. A valid question is why the internet has yet to gain spontaneous consciousness. I think it’s the fact that no evolutionary pressure was applied to the development of the internet favoring global web self awareness.

Jeremy said...

My fear about downloading my brain onto a network is that you can't be entirely certain that it's me in there. Perhaps there's more to the brain than just the sum of it's parts? At least I hope so.

Would all of our life experiences be present in the scan of our cells? I think we'd have to understand completely where memory comes from in order to really go ahead with this.

Not that I wouldn't love explore an almost infinite amount of virtual worlds with whatever kind of powers I desire... Wait this sounds like a movie I once saw...

Uri Kalish said...

Indeed, the existence of something metaphysical like a soul could really damage my theories.

Jadedvisalian.com said...

questioning to see who is human? Sounds like Bladerunner.

Uri Kalish said...

Great book and movie!

rlowe1980 said...

WOW!! nice article!! but will an AI based society be that much different? I mean hell, from a certain point of view humanity is just like a computer.. with the government as the processor..

anyway, i understand the idea of storing brain data and living a virtual world.. but, in a sense, aren't we already doing that?.. each individual has his own perception of reality so what's real to you, may not be real to me.. life is already just an image created by electromagnetic impulses on the brain.. we're already computers controlled by the government!!!

the AI world that your reffering to could have downfalls.. it could make society more restiricted than it already is... of course that could be a good thing too! and we can upload superpowers and s**t!!

plug me in!!!!!! :-P

Uri Kalish said...

It must be different since most current professions will become useless in an uploaded society.

rlowe1980 said...

yeah, your right.. but when most people think of robotic/digital society, they picture a complete evolution in humanity... i guess that's kind of what i picture too..

but from the way you explained, it seems like it would just be another huge step in technology, rather than a complete twist in humanity.. kind of like the invention of the car..

Uri Kalish said...

I didn’t talk much about the nature of the whole uploaded society, but you are correct. Uploading will be the next step in our evolution and a complete and radical change in what we call human civilization.

Anonymous said...


There are troublesome paradoxes here.

Take a look at my postin here.

machinehuman said...

Nice post Kalish. I think you try to make a distinction between strong and weak AI, and you do it quite well. Certainly we don't need strong AI to pass the Turing test, hence we only need a machine which can mimic human behavior. Keep the good writing. Cheers from Brazil.