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Amy Harmon's Cryonics Article

Amy Harmon's A Dying Young Woman’s Hope in Cryonics and a Future raises interesting issues about the relationship of brain to mind, artificial intelligence, and the future of technology related to determining details of brain structure and simulating brain operations. Here are a few excerpts:

“I can see within, say, 40 years that we would have a method to generate a digital replica of a person’s mind,” said Winfried Denk, a director at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Germany, who has invented one of several mapping techniques. “It’s not my primary motivation, but it is a logical outgrowth of our work.”
Other neuroscientists do not take that idea seriously, given the great gaps in knowledge about the workings of the brain. “We are nowhere close to brain emulation given our current level of understanding,” said Cori Bargmann, a neuroscientist at Rockefeller University.... ...
Mr. Kurzweil and others who call themselves transhumanists have argued that exponential increases in computing power will generate an assortment of new technologies that will enable us to transcend our bodies and upload our minds onto a computer. He envisions an inflection point that some call the “Singularity,” a singular moment when machine intelligence surpasses human intelligence. ...
...Kim cited the criticism Mr. Kurzweil had attracted for his forecast that the Singularity would come by 2045, despite winning adherents at Google, where he has since been hired as engineering director. ...
If the connectome, laid down by genes and altered by life experience, turns out to be the repository of the identity information that neuroscientists widely believed it to be, he [Dr. Hayworth] argued, there was no reason that uploading a mind should not ultimately succeed, “especially when we can now see how to save it by expanding on today’s neural mapping technology.” ...
While it is widely agreed that the connectome encodes our unique memories and learned behaviors, Dr. Hayworth’s belief that a map of the brain’s synapses could one day be sufficient to reconstruct a mind is controversial.
- Amy Harmon, A Dying Young Woman’s Hope in Cryonics and a Future, New York Times, Sept. 12, 2015




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