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If we ignore for the moment that we are already moist robots of a sort, I wonder if it is inevitable that we will evolve into more traditional robots of metal and silicon and plastic.

I think futurist Ray Kurzweil predicted that someday we will have body scanners so accurate we can analyze a human brain and transfer it to a computer. Obviously the computers of the future will need to be more powerful to handle the load, but that seems feasible. I wonder what happens next.

Suppose we transfer a dying guy's brain into a computer, and that computer passes the Turing Test, thus demonstrating genuine intelligence. For all practical purposes it might have the same personality as the human brain that went into it. If you had a conversation with it, I can imagine it expressing a desire to live and even procreate.

Now here's where it gets interesting. Once you transfer more than one human into computer form, the two of them could choose to mate, with their offspring being the combination of the two artificial personalities, after agreeing to some rules about which traits they prefer to be dominant.

As computers, they could still tap into all the knowledge on the Internet, but only as needed, the same way regular humans access the Internet. The only programs running automatically and all the time would be their core personalities.

Eventually these computer brains would request more robust robot bodies, and the regular humans would oblige by developing ever better models. And then things get really interesting because regular humans could mate with robot lovers. The offspring would be the combination of the computer's mind and the scanned brain of the regular human, again following rules to see which traits dominate. The offspring would necessarily be a computer, thus dooming regular humans in the long run.

In some cases a dying male could leave behind a sperm sample before evolving into his computer-robot self. That way he could still reproduce with a regular human woman. So there would be a period in human evolution where regular humans and robot humans routinely mate and have the option of a traditional or robot baby.

Eventually, when all humans have robot bodies and computer brains, it will seem silly to be encased in separate physical bodies when reality could be better handled via simulation. So all the individual computers would agree to download to one huge computer and live a simulated reality for the rest of time.

The imagined reality would feature each "person" in flesh form. Upon the death of a particular simulated human, the host computer person would "reincarnate" into another simulated human baby.

By the way, it already happened. Your flesh form died a billion years ago. To make the simulation meaningful, you walled off the memory of being in a simulation. But you left the digital equivalent of a bread crumb path back because, being human, you couldn't totally release on the past. So we see hints and clues in this simulated life that give us a way out of this simulation if it becomes too brutal.

For example, in this simulated life we continually create simulations of our own. We call them TV shows, plays, movies, books, and even computer games that are simulations of life. Everything in this life is a metaphor. And our coincidences aren't as coincidental as we think.

I'm guessing you don't buy this explanation of your reality, but consider this: If the prediction of the future seems reasonable, and time is infinite, it is infinitely more likely it already happened compared to the possibility that it will happen in our future and hasn't yet. We could be imagining the universe as only 14 billion years old in the simulation.

(Yes, I am borrowing from the Boltzmann Brain idea and combining it with Kurzweil's predictions and a dash of The Matrix, plus a few other ideas. That doesn't make it wrong. That just proves we left bread crumbs.)
 
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Dec 10, 2008
I was driving away from my house this morning with my coffee still on the roof. Cliche I know. My windows were foggy so I rolled them down so I could see out of them. As I was making my first turn, the coffee fell off the roof, hit the window, and landed in my left hand. I guarantee I couldn't reproduce it.

It should have just fallen off and landed in the street, but instead it fell into my car. This proves that either

1. There is a God and He understands how much I need coffee.

2. I'm incredibly lucky and should buy a lotto ticket.

3. Your theory is correct and my bread crumb this morning your post is supposed to tell me something.

Regardless, my coffee was still cold by the time I got to school.
 
 
Dec 10, 2008
Maybe instead of being replaced we will simply improve metalic computers to the point that they become organic computers and are simply merged with our current brains in a 'blending' of nature and technology. Kind of like what we already do...we enhance our eyes with contacts, glasses, telescopes, etc, our brains with calculators and um computers, our ears with radios, phones, etc. The list goes on.
 
 
Dec 10, 2008
Isaac Asimov already wrote this story, minus the bit about re-creating the biological world for entertainment purposes. It ends with his merged computer recreating the universe. I spotted the similarity with GODS DEBRIS and THE RELIGION WAR. Of course, those were good, too.
 
 
Dec 10, 2008
this dude's already working on building a robot wife http://www.geekologie.com/2008/12/pervert_inventor_le_trung_stil.php
 
 
Dec 10, 2008
My scanned brain hurts
 
 
Dec 10, 2008
Ok, we could transfer our personalities into computers but that wouldn't extend our lives. The computer personality would be a copy of ourself, not a cut and paste. Even when you cut and paste a file on a computer you aren't really moving it, your just removing its imprint at one location and re embossing that same imprint at another. Your theory could still hold, but it wouldn't be evolution so much as the replacement of our species with another. In theory, humans may be kept around as a novelty, the race that was, but eventually our robot overlords will grow bored with us (a being that can process our entire history of literature in seconds probably has a fairly short attention span).
I for one, look forward to welcoming our new robot overlords. Once we figure out how to program AI or transfer human intelligence to a computer as you suggested I think the potential of that new race dwarfs our own. Ah well, we had a decent run.
 
 
Dec 10, 2008
I am completely sold on this theory. I really want someone help me remember how to download another theme. This one i currently have is not all it was cracked up to be. I cant seam to retrieve the protocol from memory for reprograming. A glitch i think. Maybe someone knows a website i can get instructions from. Please help.
 
 
Dec 10, 2008
I don't think everyone would link up to the same simulated reality. I think we would factionalize and create several different realities that we could download. And because those we're fond of might choose a different reality simulation, we would want the option of moving between simulations/worlds. Humans like choices and don't do consensus well.

So if this has already happened, the bread trails are to remind us that there are alternate realities/worlds available to us, but we have to remember where and how to download them.
 
 
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Dec 10, 2008
Remember your "Rule of Two" for humor? This post scores on only one of your factors, Bizarre.
 
 
Dec 10, 2008
I know Scott doesn't always believe what he writes, but I find this post ironic considering I've seen him discount religions that teach the basic idea that humans existed prior to this life (we just can't remember).

Maybe those breadcrumbs are leading to a much more spiritual answer.
 
 
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Dec 10, 2008
And are we also simulating all the suffering going on? Nice. Smart enough to make a simulation, but oops, we forgot to turn off the pain.

Then again, I'm pretty happy, so maybe all the suffering of other people is just there confuse me.
 
 
Dec 10, 2008
The same talents that make you a good cartoonist don't always translate well to futurologist
 
 
Dec 10, 2008
As soon as i started reading this blog I immediately thought of Kurzweil's "Age of Spiritual Machines"

The problem is not the level of technology, but the type of technology. No, a computer cannot hold an intelligent conversation in the same manner as a human (yet). But no human can solve complex mathematical equations in a few billionths of a second as even a modest graphing calculator can. While it seems "apples-to-oranges" Kurzweil makes some very convincing arguments that intelligence (and even stretches to include consciousness) is simply a matter of computational capacity regardless of whether it occurs on a 'moist' or silicon/carbon substrate.

So whether we create the hardware that mimics the function of the human brain (neural-nets or massively parallel processors) or more conventional systems with the shear brute-force capable of running the software of 'human' intelligence, the point is that we WILL get there.



 
 
Dec 10, 2008
Consider this: any "transfer" of consciousness from human to robot body will look more like a "copy/paste" than "cut/paste", so after the "paste" is complete, what do you do with the original source body? Are we really sure we "transferred" anything?
 
 
Dec 10, 2008
This idea seems possible; however, the robots would not be the people. The robots would just be a copy of someone who once lived. Twins do not share a soul because their genetic code is the same, and people do not share a soul with a machine because their electric brain impulses are the same.

I think hauntings would increase. Souls would return to try to warn people that there is an after-life, and it's annoying to watch a robot pretend to be you.
 
 
Dec 10, 2008
Scott. Put. Down. The. Bong. Take two steps back. Back. Away. From. The. Bong.
 
 
Dec 10, 2008
The argument that "time is infinite" has some flaws to it. Check out this month's New Scientist for an interesting article on current arguments about the nature of time.
 
 
Dec 10, 2008
Oh and please do your readers a favor. When you take a trip, create a fake ID account for this blog and try to log on and post. It is one of the slowest sites I regulary visit.

I bet the numbers back me up. Have hits and comments dropped off on this version compared to the old version?
 
 
Dec 10, 2008
Frederik Pohl wrote the "Gateway" sci-fi series books in the late 1970's. In his later stories, if the characters could afford it, they could transfer their minds to a machine and live forever. Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gateway_(novel)
 
 
Dec 10, 2008
Good job! I especially like the sucker punch at the end.

My biggest problem is the move to virtual reality from robot. You would still need a "real" presence to maintain the virtual machine. Either everyone must be partly real, or a part of everyone would need to be completely "real."

 
 
 
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