For starters, he completely sidelines the notion of consciousness, something that has been the bedrock of human thought since the time we have been around. Sans consciousness, Hanson goes on to describe or rather postulate the opportunities and threats that can come up, if we ever reached a stage, where we could transfer the entire contents of our brain into a computer.
The fundamentals of doing so rests on the fact that we are porting the software from the human brain into a computer. He tells us that we will need three futuristic technologies to get there, and none of them are here yet. “Firstly, lots of cheap, fast, parallel computers. Next, we need to scan individual human brains in spatial and chemical detail, to see exactly what cells are where, connected to what, of what type. Lastly, we’re going to need computer models of how each kind of brain cell works – taking input signals, changing interval state and sending output signals,” he says.
Hanson describes these new creatures as ems and goes into detail as to how their existence more or less mirrors that of humans. They will need a constant source of fuel, just like we do, they will need to be industrious in order to survive and above all, they will have socio-economic class distinctions that will differentiate the performers from the average Joes. Of course, the philosophical notions of lifespan also come in – how long do ems need to stay alive and how do they interact with their less-smarter human contemporaries. If you are looking for a mind bending exploration of the way this not so distant futuristic technology will change your life, plug in!