What is mind uploading?

From wikipedia:

"Mind uploading, also known as whole brain emulation, is the hypothetical futuristic process of scanning a physical structure of the brain accurately enough to create an emulation of the mental state and copying it to a computer in a digital form. The computer would then run a simulation of the brain's information processing, such that it would respond in essentially the same way as the original brain and experience having a sentient conscious mind."[1]

Do you feel that your consciousness is trapped in mortal machines made of meat? Well, the desire to be free from the limits of the human experience is as old as our first stories. For the first time, the concept of leaving our bodies behind and uploading our minds into a digital world seems possible, even like the logical next step on our evolutionary ladder.


The concept of mind uploading is based on an important idea called physicalism [2]. It says that everything about the mind can be found in the brain and it keeps the discussion within the domain of natural law. Assuming this idea is correct, at some point, we will understand the brain well enough to possess the technology to simulate all of its aspects and to make a digital mind copy. There is no physical property in the brain, including consciousness that cannot be simulated accurately, even if it requires a lot of code. All of these assumptions have been proposed and challenged by scientists and philosophers, developing into a theory called Substrate-Independent Minds [3]

Mind versus Brain

On a macro level, the brain can be divided into sections with different roles, from breathing and heart rate to coordinating movement and involuntary reflexes. The most developed part, the neocortex or the outermost layer of the brain hold memories. Our ability to plan, think and imagine, hope and dream. Where exactly the you part of the brain is situated is not entirely clear. We know that areas like the Preakness cortex have the greatest influence on our consciousness, but also that several areas can network together to share tasks none of them can do alone.

Considering this complexity, the question arises spontaneously. Is the mind computable? Computable means that there is no physical property in the brain, including consciousness, that cannot be simulated accurately, even if it requires a lot of code. An argument for mind computability has been introduced by the Brain preservation Foundation: "All of our current theories of the human mind are computational and imply that we are like a program in this sense we can in principle be copied and can have many ‘instantiations’ running simultaneously." [4]


If we assume that the mind is confined to the brain and that it is computable, all that remains is to obtain this information through a scan. Important steps have been taken through the use of EEGs and fMRI machines and solutions that involve killing the patient: scientists successfully mapped a cubic millimeter of mouse brain that contains 100000 neurons with a billion synapses and four kilometres of nerve fibres. [5]

How far away is this technology?

Humans have historically been horrible at predicting the pace of progress. In the best case, it's just a matter of doing the work and finding the right solutions. It might not be necessary to simulate every last cell down to the last atom. Instead, it may be possible to simplify elements into probabilistic models that could match the behavior of the brain using a more manageable number of simpler systems

The current limitations to the development of this technology are the enormous amount of computing power that a model requires and the limited knowledge which does not yet allow us to associate consciousness with a particular physical constituent of the brain.

We are still very far from mind uploading technology. But almost all scientists today are sure to say that this process will be possible sooner or later. Imagine what the human being managed to do in just 100 years and consider that the innovation process does not move on a linear scale but on an exponential one Moore’s law [6]. This may sound like science fiction, but if we think about the developments in neuroscience, quantum computer, BCI devices, it becomes clear that in the future this technology will exist. It is not if, but when.

CryoMind estimates place these possibilities between 200 and 400 years. Will your mind data be ready by then?

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