Disclaimer

Many of my essays are quite old. They were, in effect, written by a person who longer exists in that my views, beliefs, and overall philosophy have grown and evolved over the years. Consequently, if I were to write on the same topics again, the resulting essays might differ significantly from their current versions. Rather than edit my essays to remain contemporary with my views, I have chosen to preserve them as a record of my past inclinations and writing style. Thank you for understanding.

April 2001

Robots and Mind Uploading

The near future will knock your socks off, the far future will be incomprehensible

Brief Description

Presently we are seeing the first stages of a robotically oriented society. In ten years this preliminary stage will be indoctrinated into our culture as robots start appearing in all corners of life. In twenty years simple robots capable of performing work (as opposed to today's dinky toys) will be ubiquitous in the home, the office, and industry. All jobs will be in the middle of the transition to robotic automation. In thirty years our society will have undergone a major shift in the workforce as robots take over most jobs. In forty years, robots will be capable of performing any human function. In fifty years they will be immeasurably superior to humans at every conceivable function. The predictions just made may be off by up to ten years in either direction, but probably not more than that. Then the party really starts. In one hundred years, humans in their present form will be extinct while an entirely new form of humanity will have emerged. Yes, just one hundred years, possibly several decades earlier, maybe a few decades later, but this prediction is not off by more than a few decades.

Full Description

Sections:

Introduction

For the last several thousand years human technology has been increasing in complexity. However, it was only in the last century that we began to make machines that hinted of mechanized thought. People have been predicting that artificial intelligence was just around the corner for forty years and so far they have always been wrong. I believe this will change very soon. While we are busy making computers more intelligent, two other disciplines will be occurring alongside the computer revolution. One, robotic bodies for intelligent computers to inhabit will also become increasingly adept. Two, neuroscience will begin a merger between computers and brains.

Computer minds: AI

As far as raw computer intelligence is concerned, there are some very good reasons to believe the tide is about to turn. For one thing, in the last ten years or so, a new approach to artificial intelligence has become popular that wasn't embraced in the past. This approach consists of replicating biological methods for developing advanced, complicated computer programs. This field is called artificial life and encompasses many different subcategories including self-learning neural networks, genetic algorithms, subsumption architecture, emergent complexity, and several other disciplines. By allowing computers to develop intelligence, consciousness, and individual behavior on their own instead of having to be programmed with these attributes outright, I believe we will finally succeed in attaining the goal of artificial intelligence. It has proven to be incredibly difficult to engineer a system as adaptive, robust, and complex as a brain, but the approach of evolving such a system is much more likely to succeed.

Another reason to believe computers will soon become very intelligent is that within the next few decades the hardware that is required for human level intelligence will become available. It is pointless to predict a smart computer program if no computer available is powerful enough to run the program, but computers are approaching human levels of ability in terms of raw computational power. Once the hardware is available, we will most likely find a way to allow that hardware to express itself as a form of cognitive life.

Computer bodies: robots

What good is artificial intelligence if it sits in a box on your desk? Well, actually, it could be argued that a truly intelligent computer could perform many useful functions just existing as a box. However, it is physical robots that I personally find the most tantalizing. Presently, robotics is far behind computer science. There are two primary problems with robotics in my opinion. The first and most serious is that we have yet to develop an efficient power source. Most robots have a lot of extremely heavy batteries, and those batteries don't run for very long despite their size and weight. There are so many looming alternatives that I wouldn't know where to begin. I will list a few: fuel cells, solar, air (wind), water (flowing), fusion, chemical (like biological organisms use), geothermal, kinetic, flywheels, microwaves, and many more that I can't even think of right now, not forgetting good old fashioned batteries if we can greatly improve on them. Biology is fabulously energy efficient. Most animals can eat a small meal that comprises only a fraction of their own weight and can then function for days without food. There is of course great variety in the animal kingdom. Some animals spend practically all their time eating (pandas) and some go weeks without eating (snakes). The average robot is good for about ten minutes. Robots will have to find a way to store energy as efficiently as biology if they will ever have a real chance of competing.

The second major problem (and this ties in directly with the energy source problem) is that we don't have energy efficient actuators, methods of producing physical movement. The most common method of movement is the motor, an electromagnetic contraption that always produces a rotational motion. There are many other actuators including shape-changing alloys (metal wires which alter their length as their temperature changes), pneumatic (air pressure), hydrodynamic (liquid pressure, usually water or oil), and a couple others. These methods vary greatly in energy efficiency, but none of them are really very good compared to the muscles that biology uses. Until we find a way to produce motion using energy efficient methods (which takes into account the volume, mass, and energy requirements of the system as a whole), robotics will never take off.

Mind Uploading

Aside from artificial intelligence and robotics, there is a third field that will start showing incredible promise in coming decades. We will begin to integrate computer systems into our brains. We have already begun. In fact, this field began hundreds of years ago with the first hearing aids (in the form of small funnels) and the first eyeglasses. These were the first tools designed to augment our brains as opposed to some other part of our bodies. Such devices have become considerably more invasive in recent decades including hearing aids inset into the outer ear, hearing aids hidden behind the eardrum inside the middle ear, contact lenses, laser eye surgery, and the rudimentary beginnings of spinal injury repair. In addition, neuroscience benefits from some of the most amazing scanning devices in all of science. Our ability to learn about the brain through electrodes, PET, CAT, and MRI scans is increasing in both spatial and temporal resolution on a constant basis. We will continue to use computerized devices to fix neurological problems using increasingly invasive procedures.

Eventually we will begin to perform such procedures, not for the purpose of fixing defects, but for the purpose of enhancing already healthy abilities. Computers will become more and more integrated into our brains until we will eventually dispense with the old-fashioned goo that is our biological brains and move forward at accelerating rates with our fully artificial brains. We will have, in essence, become the robots. This concept is called Mind Uploading, and there are several approaches. A more fantastical and more generally recognized method than the one I just described consists of simply taking an ordinary brain, scanning it by either destructive or nondestructive means, and then producing a simulated copy in a computer, entirely free of the original biological body. I find this scenario to be less likely in that I believe the necessary technology would arrive long after we have been augmenting our original brains with computers, but in theory it is just as explanatory an example. Not only will we be through with our brains, we will be equally bored of our simplistic and overly fragile bodies. Robotic bodies will be our minds' vehicles of choice, no doubt.

The following timeline is an approximation of what I believe the course of events will be over the next few decades. I allow myself a latitude of approximately twenty percent. In other words, if a predicted date is ten years in the future I permit myself an error of plus or minus two years. Twenty years in the future permits me plus or minus four years, and so on. The reason for a fairly loose time-constraint is that unpredictable political and social factors may sway the emergence of particular technologies by several years. For example, in the United States, the difference between the election of a technology-embracing president and a technology-denouncing president could shift the entire schedule by as much as four years.

2000

It is presently mid-2001 and I use the year 2000 as a round number to illustrate the present state of AI, robotics, and Mind Uploading. A desktop computer has barely an inkling of human-level intelligence, perhaps one millionth of our brain's ability. This is insufficient power to perform complex generalized computations. However, this is sufficient power to perform complex specialized computations. In other words, we can't make a general-purpose intelligent computer, but we can make a computer or robotic system that can recognize human faces, dictate smoothly spoken speech, steer cars down highways unaided at highway speeds, operate partly unsupervised on Mars, play humanly unbeatable chess, run approximate weather prediction models, weld cars together, perform astonishing feats of optimization that are untouchable by human abilities, act like fairly amusing although easily recognizable artificial pets, mow your lawn, deliver meals in hospitals, and myriad other examples. Many of these systems are prototypes and are not ubiquitous in industry or otherwise in our daily lives but they haunt of the future that is to come.

2010

While some robots in research labs will have been using legs for over twenty years back to 1990, most robots will still be using wheels, which are far more energy efficient than legs. Wheels can't traverse stairs or rough terrain very easily, and robots will be limited in this respect. House-vacuuming robots are a good example of what the average consumer may have available at this time. They will be fairly simple, yet certainly useful in a particular domain, and more to the point, they will be affordable. Cars may have failsafe mechanisms that take over the wheel when the user doses off, but they won't be driving themselves yet. We will probably have language translators that take in and produce smooth-sounding speech. Robots will be showing up in places that most of us won't see them, such as warehouses and factories. The job-crunch will have begun as some jobs become doable by robots for a cost that is competitive with human wages. Robots can work almost around the clock, don't complain, don't strike, don't need vacation or sick-leave (although they will break down). Consider this: a robot costing a company $20,000 up front and $3000 yearly maintenance thereafter will outsell all but the lowest paid human workers if you think about it.

2020

Robots will have a more general, although still somewhat simple, applicability. Some robots may benefit from the use of legs if their function requires it but will probably still have wheels also (because wheels are still more energy efficient provided a flat surface). A general purpose house-robot can vacuum, straighten up a room, put away (possibly wash) the dishes, find and wash the laundry, mow the lawn, change lightbulbs, sweep and wash the floors, wash windows, etc. Package delivery robotics may be in full swing at this time. Small packages will be delivered throughout urban areas by an army of small robots instead of by a small truck-team of humans as was done in the past. As a result, package delivery will speed up enormously, while probably becoming much cheaper at the same time. Cars may be fully self-driving, but I believe that the safety concerns may push this specific application further back than should be necessary. Perhaps not though. Practically all surgical medicine is performed by robots, which in most cases aren't even being directed by humans. Robots will be stealing more jobs, especially basic service industries like fast-food (in which present day employees must perform basically like robots anyway), janitorial jobs, and most cashiering jobs. It is unfortunate that the first people to lose their jobs will be lower-income people, but I believe this is an accurate prediction. Some form of computerized brain augmentation will be occurring. Perhaps infrared/ultraviolet cameras will feed their vision information directly into our retinal system. We might enjoy similar augmentations for hearing new frequencies of sound. It may be possible to record the neural pattern of a given experience and then play it back through neural stimulation. This won't allow direct virtual reality yet, but may allow sensations and feelings to be induced.

2030

All forms of transportation are "hands-off". General purpose robots will be even more adept. You can send your personal robot to the store to fetch the groceries, or it can work on car and home maintenance for you. More and more jobs will be going to the robots: public transportation obviously, more service industries like the basic utilities of plumbing, electrical, and gas. Factories will be entirely empty (of humans). Banks, department stores, most large retailers for that matter, government offices, and other places where the customer is basically in-and-out without much human interaction will have abandoned human employees as they cost too much and make too many mistakes. Places with a human touch, like libraries, schools, mom-and-pop retailers, small motels, restaurants ,and such will still have a human somewhere in sight when you walk in the door, not because it's necessary for the job but because people crave interaction with other people and robots will not provide ample replacement in this regard yet. It is an interesting question to ponder where all the humans will have gone. I seem to be describing a desolate wasteland of sorts. Basically, I believe this demonstrates the recreational lifestyle that we will be adopting, a lifestyle in which most of our time is spent on pleasurable pursuits instead of financial ones. Economics will still exist and money will still be important, but we won't be working in the same kinds of jobs as in the past (and certainly not for long hours). What kinds of jobs will we be doing? As far as I can tell, the only domain left is robotics research. Just kidding. We will be more artistic and less industrial, more creative and less menial, more mental and less physical. I will leave this issue as a vague suggestion however.

2040

Robots will be performing every single job at this point, including upper management. Companies may be "owned" by humans, but computers will run everything. We will simply collect stock dividends to support our hedonistic desires. A major problem faces humanity now. Robots are intelligent and conscious enough that an ethical dilemma arises about the continued forced labor of such machines. Meanwhile, our brains will be undergoing substantial augmentations. We will enjoy plug-in math processors that can perform calculations for us literally "at-will". We will likely have something akin to perfect virtual reality in which a virtual world is projected directly into our neural system and our muscular movements are redirected into that virtual world. It is an interesting question whether we will find any interest in the physical world when this becomes possible.

2050

Whether really versatile artificial intelligence or fully uploaded human brains occurs first is a huge question. The answer to this question may alter the future of humanity in practically orthogonal ways. If AI comes first and has the power to enforce its rights, and if we don't tread very lightly on such matters and treat such demands with respect, we may be eradicated. If Mind Uploading comes first, we may perpetually enslave conscious, feeling machines for all eternity into doing our menial work for us. The truth will probably lie somewhere in between. I believe AI is easier than Mind Uploading, and resultantly I believe the machines will arrive before we become the machines. It is difficult to predict with any accuracy whatsoever what the world will be like at this point, and this is only fifty years in the future. Technology will have reached the farthest corners of the Earth. It will be impossible for any society, even the most conservative ones, to avoid the technological advancement of humanity. It should be entirely possible for world hunger and disease to be vanquished even in the most remote areas. Universal language translators will have turned our world into a more unified, singular population. The production of electrical energy will be cheap and will require small physical devices instead of huge power plants. Consequently, electrical power, the computing power that comes with electrical power, and the robotic power that comes with computing power will all exist on the Serengeti, in the outback, in the amazon, in the arctic, etc. Basically, everywhere there is a human, there will be advanced technology to aid that human. Of course, what it means to even be human is debatable since robots will possess superior intelligence and we will have a variety of devices implanted into our bodies and brains.

2100

Assuming we didn't bring destruction on ourselves through oppression and bigotry of robots, we will be enjoying an existence we can't even imagine today. Our minds will run on entirely mechanical "brains". They will run at far faster speeds than they presently do. Our memories will be infallible. We will have tremendous calculation abilities. We will have unimaginable modalities in vision, hearing, smell, taste, and touch, in addition to senses we don't even have presently, such as the magnetic sense that birds appear to possess. We will be wonderfully artistic creative beings with the universe at our disposal to explore and experience. Every ounce of dead matter will be converted into living computing machinery as we will literally give life and consciousness to the inanimate universe. When an individual wishes to, he or she will be able to share in a group consciousness that will embody all "humanity". Any experience will be sharable, including experiences of emotional and sensory intensity (let's call it sex), despite an ironic lack of need for sexual reproduction anymore. Anyone wishing to escape civilization will be able to jet off in a random direction into uncharted space. There will be literally, practically nothing that we won't be capable of doing. There is a little further explanation of what sort of robotic form we may take in my other Mind Ramblings topic, Religion's Impending Death, in the section where I discuss the future and immortality. There is also a hypothetical scenario involving virtual reality mentioned in my other Mind Ramblings topic, Aliens, UFOs, SETI.

How to directly benefit from these predictions

One last point. I believe that it is possible for people in the young adult or younger years today to survive long enough to experience even the extreme time-periods in the above predictions through coming advances in medicine, longevity, surgery, organ-replacement and life-extension. In other words, I hope to be alive in 2100, fully robotic, virtually immortal, and practically a god. If ever you needed a reason to start thinking about your health, this is it. In the past, regardless of your health, you knew you were pretty much walking the same path as everyone around and before you. A few decades one way or the other wasn't going to affect anything. Now things have completely changed. If you die a decade before Mind Uploading gives us the ability to transfer our mind between physical substrates with ease, you won't have lost a mere few years of life. You will have lost countless millennia of expressive experience that the rest of humanity will go on to dream into reality without you. The potential gain is unfathomable and the potential loss is equally unbearable.

Related links

General Futurist Stuff
http://www.kurzweilai.net
http://www.robotbooks.com/Moravec.htm
http://www.futurist.com
http://www.discovery.com/stories/technology/robots/robots.html

Mind Uploading
http://www.minduploading.org
http://metalab.unc.edu/jstrout/uploading/

Robot Lawn Mowers
http://www.lawnnibbler.com
http://www.friendlyrobotics.com

Unmanned Vehicles
http://www.azfms.com/DocReviews/Mar98/art12.html
http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs.cmu.edu/project/alv/member/www/ugv.html
http://www.cs.cmu.edu/Groups/ahs
http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs.cmu.edu/project/ahs/www/publicity/cnn/cnn.html
http://www.msnbc.com/news/545298.asp?cp1=1

Robot Surgery
http://www.abc.net.au/quantum/s244446.htm
http://www.usatoday.com/life/health/surgery/lhsur025.htm
http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/print/print_25793.htm

Other Robot Stuff (there's really too much to list)
http://ic-www.arc.nasa.gov/ic/psa
http://vesuvius.jsc.nasa.gov/er_er/html/robonaut/robonaut.html

I would really like to hear what people think of this. If you prefer private feedback, you can email me at kwiley@keithwiley.com. Alternatively, the following form and comment section is available.

Comments

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Name:Keith Date/Time:2011/08/25
NOTE THAT ALL COMMENTS OLDER THAN THIS ONE PREDATE THE COMMENT SYSTEM. They originated as email feedback and have been retroactively converted to public comments to seed the new comment system. As such I have redacted them where appropriate for the purpose of preserving their anonymity.

Name:Anonymous Date/Time:2007/08/14
Keith, I am a filmmaker from [...] and have found your writing inspiring, thought provoking and captivating in the extreme.

I'm busy working on a new project at the moment (a social drama), but in the near future would like to explore a film tackling issues of conscioussness, mind uploading and futurism, albeit in a way that is noth comprehensible to the layman, whilst thought provoking to those well read in the topic.

Would love to keep in touch, and congratulations again on your all your fine articles!

Name:Anonymous Date/Time:2006/10/07
Hi Keith,
I just finished reading your article and really enjoyed your clarity on the subject ;) I am a young computer engineering student and constantly enjoy dreaming of what the future will bring. I wonder though, will all of this increased sensory and experiential gains brought to us through the advancement of technology ultimitley distract us from the meaning of it all? Perhaps, we will forget what it is like to be afraid of the boogey monster as a child, or the touch of a first kiss, or any other of life's great experiences? We certainly have plenty of time to figure it all out!

Name:Anonymous Date/Time:2005/03/20
Hi!

I just read your article on your visions of the future including mind uploading. I have read a lot on the subject on several websites, but I have one major argument against it. It would be really fantastic if we could attain immortality this way, however.
My argument goes like this, and I'm sure you've heard it before:
If someone uploads me without destroying my original body while I'm sleeping, I could have a copy of myself without even knowing about it, I would still be in my mortal body. The copy could very well consider itself to be me, but that wouldn't be of any difference to ME (the original me).
Or if I'm uploaded fully aware of what's going on, I could just say: "Well, now I get a copy of myself", but I would still experience myself in my body.
The same should apply if the original ME was destroyed during the uploading process, the original ME would be dead, and there would exist a copy of myself that thought itself to be me.

There's one way I could think of avoiding this problem, and that would be to gradually replace small parts of my brain with an artificial substrate that would replace that part of the brain, and eventually my entire brain would be artificial, that is, I think of consciousness as being a continual process in any given substrate, that process would be interrupted using any other process copying the brain. I think the same would be the case even if one copyied an artificial consciousness, the consciousness would still experience itself being at a specific place and wouldn't gain anything of having copies of itself anywhere.

Cheers

Name:Anonymous Date/Time:2004/08/12
Ken,

I am a retired lawyer in my sixties.

Looking back historically not much seems to change over eons except technology and social fads. Whether enhanced AI will be a bifurcation point leading to a genuinely novel future featuring evolutionary androids is an interesting question.

What concerns me is that human nature never seems to change. Although we have fairly sophisticated electronic media such as radio, television, and e-books the favorite human occupations seem to be the ones that entertained primitive humans: gossiping, war, and sex. Will the future be different?

I enjoyed your site.

Name:Anonymous Date/Time:2003/04/23
I just read your essay. I have a link that I'm sure you'll enjoy:
[...]

Name:Anonymous Date/Time:2003/02/05
Hi,
My name is [...], I am a high school student in [...]. Your site is very interesting,
I was wondering where youu got the timeline of events. I am doing a persuasive essay on whether or not robts should take over menial jobs, personally, I'm trying to persuade against it. I would like to knw briefly about your crediblity and if you have any ideas for my project.

Name:Anonymous Date/Time:2003/01/08
Hi,

Excellent articles. I was wondering if you could be so kind as to
direct me to (if it exists) a mailing list where the below listed
topics are discussed.

I'm looking for a mailing list that discusses the present and
future implications and advances relating to the following
issues:
1] Nanotechnology
2] The coming singularity
3] Mind uploading
4] Neural computing
5] Artificial Intelligence
6] Bio-electronics

Could you please let me know if there exists such a list. Your
help is tremendously appreciated.

Name:Anonymous Date/Time:2002/04/13
I'm going to be rambling. It's late and there are a number of somewhat related topics I want to address. Those two conditions together are conducive to rambling.

First off, an attempt to tell you where I'm coming from:

I like technology. I build and upgrade my computer. I feel excitement when flipping through Popular Mechanics. The images of an intricate circuit board, sleek aerodynamic jet, and a dense page of complex math all hold an intrinsic allure. However, I don't think that a total embrace technology is the desirable endpoint of human evolution. I like technology. I love nature.

I'm now going to try to turn to specifics.

Concerning your Mind Rambling "Robots and Mind Uploading"

As I understand it, the gist of your timeline is that we humans will abandon our biological existence in favor of an artificial one. Not only that, but all suffering may be eliminated from humanity. I'm not going to argue that that can't happen. In fact, I see it as quite possible, even likely. I will argue your attitude (At least this the attitude I gleaned from your writing. Please tell me if I'm wrong) that itās a good thing. Again: I like technology, but I love nature. You strike me as person that is at least somewhat (perhaps totally) out of touch with the natural world. I may be totally of base and am grievously insulting you as I type, but this is just what I gleaned off of your website after and hour or so. The only thing remotely connected to nature there that I saw was your night photography. Even that seemed to have a bit of a cold, technological touch to it. I get the feeling that you've bled because of paper cuts and the like more than anything else during your adult life. I get the feeling that rain is something you generally only feel between your car and whatever building you're heading to. I get the feeling that you are already trying to do what you've predicted humanity as a whole will and should do a few decades from now.

If humanity is heading towards some kind of all encompassing mechanization, I can only hope that the space program ramps up again so that I can hitch a ride away from it. I have a hard time believing that any sensory augmentation would have the same flavor and life as my present, woefully underpowered senses do. An example: not long ago I finally got a chance to go out mountain biking properly (i.e. for several hours, without a specific, timetable friendly route in mind, on a fairly untamed trail.) I had been biking for several hours. My body had acquired the bone deep fatigue that comes with pushing it farther than you thought you could have. It was late sunset - early dusk. I came upon a nice view of the lake. You know, post card material. Except, at that particular time, with my particular perceptions, it was so much more than a nice view. Even just the view was something that simply cannot be described with words. The sounds, the smells, the feeling, were all too rich and too deep. All of the intricacies, understood and not understood, combined to create something that I have a very hard time indeed believing. any artificial sensory device could capture. An augmentation may allow me to see across the lake and look at a single leaf or take a few whiffs of the lake and determine it's pollution level, but neither one of these would enhance the intangibles that made looking at the lake a worthwhile experience in the first place.

With my views about artificial senses in mind, you can probably guess my overall views about artificial minds. (You'll probably be able to find plenty of holes in this paragraph. I haven't thought about this subject too much, and it's later than it was when I started.) Let me first say that I have no doubt that we will be able to create physical machines that are at least as complicated as our present brains sometime in the future. But I believe that there is a very large difference between and "brain" and a "mind." The former is just a physical object composed of the same atoms and what-naught that we're familiar with as everything else. The latter is something else entirely. I'm not totally sure what. In fact, I have nothing more than wild guesses as to what it is. The only thing I'm fairly certain of is that the mind is not fathomable by our "real world", "it works like this", three dimensional thinking. The mind may be something that is temporarily housed in the brain, until the brain breaks down (i.e. death). I don't know whether the mind exists before the body and brain, but I am (decidedly) sure that it persists after. More on that later. For the present, the point is that the mind is not something strictly physical. Therefore, we will never be able to build a mind. Like I said, we will be able to build a brain. We will also be able to house some semblance of a personality into it. And if the mind is housed in the brain, we could probably copy its memories and such into our manufactured brain (perhaps by reading the state of every neuron or atom in the biological brain.) But whatever started walking and talking afterwards will not be the person from which it derived. True, it may walk and talk very convincingly. If your brain was copied into a suitably advanced machine, that machine would probably act like you, even attest to having your identity. Even today, a computer with AI programming can be programmed to seem nice or mean, happy or sad, etc. Suitably advanced programming on a suitably advanced machine would very much seem to be a person. But the machine would be missing all of the "flavor" I talked about earlier. This is not to say that creating new artificial beings is inherently wrong. I find this field fascinating (although I question that humanity is mature enough to start creating beings.) And I have no moral qualms with having enhanced vision as well as natural vision (otherwise I'd have to have moral qualms with binoculars). But I do have serious qualms with REPLACING a person with an artificial construct. I believe that that person would either cease to exist or be put to a premature death.

This leads me to my views on self, which I touched on above but abandoned in a feeble attempt to stay on topic. Simply put, "I" am more that the three pounds simple physical, three-dimensional matter that's sitting in my cranium. There are two possible places "I" ("I" = my mind) actually am.

One: My mind is somehow housed in that three-dimensional matter for the time being.

Two: My mind is off somewhere else, kind off floating around, perhaps in some kind of hyper-dimensional place (if the word place would have any meaning) or in some other kind of existence.

Either way, I have a very firm conviction that everything I have done, said, and felt is more that the sum of various chemical reactions and neurons firing.

The first plausible objection to that is "If the mind isn't physical and continues after the brain is gone (implying that the mind doesn't need a brain to exist), then why do we have a physical body at all? Why don't we already only exist as pure consciousness, kind of floating around, like you said earlier?" (Now I know it's really late. I'm talking to myself via text while talking to someone else.) Well, I don't have a definite answer to that, but I have some ideas. First off, it seems entirely too fanciful to think that all of THIS (looking around my room: at my molecularly complex computer, my totally artificial plastic utensils, and my Spicy Cajun Pringles) is the result of pure happenstance. And that's what it all would have to be if we are simply physical things. I'm paraphrasing, but my understanding is that one of the basic assumptions of science is that the physical universe should be simple and elegant. The mathematically predictable orbits of planets are an example. Planets donāt generally zig-zag all over space, they generally fallow simple and elegant paths. What about humanity is elegant or simple? Everything in the universe is seeking rest or equilibrium except us. This leads me to believe we are either totally extra-physical or have some extra-physical component.

Ok, that's enough to convince me of the fact we're not just physical, but I still wonder why we are at all physical. Well, I've got two ideas, one stemming from the belief that our minds were around before the atoms that make up our brains got around to finding themselves together and the other from the idea that each time a new human brain is created, a new human mind is created along with it.

Idea 1:

There could be some number (finite or infinite) of extra-physical minds floating around waiting for brains to form. They've always been there, always will be.

Maybe when one brain dies, the mind will find its way into another (i.e. reincarnation). In this case, the purpose of physical existence is for the united mind and brain to do something in the physical world that the mind couldn't do when it was floating around in extra-physical space.

Or perhaps the mind exists in some kind of infantile state for a while, meets up with a brain for a while, matures, and then leaves. In this case, the purpose of the physical brain is simply to provide the mind with a place to gain the maturity it needs to do whatever mature minds floating around in extra-physical space do. The entire physical universe could simply be a community crib for our extra-physical minds.

Idea 2:

When the universe first started (there's a can of worms), there were no minds. (For the sake of simplicity, I'll assume we are the only entities in the universe with minds). Eventually, this thing we're calling life evolved on earth. The first life was simply physical. Over time, it became incredibly complicated physically, with DNA, molecular structure, and what-naught, but still only physical. Somewhere along the line, - maybe with the first tool users, or the first animals able to make spontaneous decisions, but somewhere - certain types of life (either including or limited to us) became more complicated in some extra-physical way that we can't see with our physical senses or comprehend with our physical way of thinking.

Well, itās getting very late and Iām afraid it I attempt to philosophize (sic?) much more, this email will end up in some file somewhere labeled ćAnd this is what he wrote before he went completely insane.

So, cheers, hopefully my ramblings have given you as much food for thought as your did me.

Name:Anonymous Date/Time:2002/04/19
I know that for some people like the idea of uploading into a robot, but if you think a little further along, a 'robot', or a body are immediately obsolete just by the act of moving your consciousness to a more permanent state. Actually, the actual physical body would be more handy to have around, since once we've given up physical evolution in favor of mental, we might want to keep in touch with what mother nature is doing without us.

The only use of robotics is for maintenance, and that could be handled by the electronic society as a whole, and without much real conscious thought.

Considering that if we can create intelligence inside of a computer, why not create a world, or multiple worlds. Once we have left the realm of physical evolution, why hang around in a hunk of tin trying to pretend that you are a part of it? If you need the comfort of that sort of self delusion for a few million years, then create a world that mimics our physics, and play around in it.. So, although there's a lot more reasons why life as a robot is as out of date as Asimov, the final, and simplest observation is that a person would want to become a robot so they continue to interact with an obsolete system, and even more bizarrely, to watch their physical designs become obsolete in a physically evolving world.. All in the name of comfort masking fear of change.

If you aren't sure what can conceivably be created inside a computer, or network of computers, or network of physical components, then maybe uploading to a robot would be a better, easier move for you.. Oh yeah, Since robots don't need to eat, breath, procreate, or do any of those things that are involved in physical evolution, how are you going to manage a healthy endorphin flow. What will give you joy, pain, or any of the things that make life living? Or at least the life you are trying to imitate. Kinda seems silly though, to go through the trouble of becoming a robot just to find out that you have no desire to live anymore. Or you could program in your own incentives.. Of course you couldn't out do a few billion years of physical evolution, so now you are faking a desire to live, and trying to become more and more like the human you left behind. Laugh.. The whole thing curls up on itself. The switch from physical evolution and pure mental evolution has to be, in my opinion Š which I would like to hear someone poke solid holes into Š complete and without looking back. We were human, We are now something else. I can't imagine an in between that would work for any length of time.. Personally..

Name:Anonymous Date/Time:2001/12/26
Hi Keith,

I've found your site in the links of the web site www.aipool.org.
Let's introduce myself...My name is [...], I'm French and I'm
graduated in computers and Networks. I'm actually working in a big company
developping embedded systems in Java.

I do want to go back to school next year in a University specialized in
articial intelligence and pattern recognition. Well all of this to say that
I'm very interrested in AI and if you're agree I would be pleased to talk
with you about your researchs (if you need a feedback...) and why not I can
talk about my research (If you want !).

Fisrt of all, I've read your essay about the Robots Mnid Uploading. It's a
good way to write a book (there's too many things to write on this subject
!!), but I think that you forgot the psychological acceptance of the robots.
I'm not sure that people are actually ready to use or buy robots with their
own appearance and I'm sure that in the future, it'll create problems for
the developpement of the robotic industry.
Many researches are done In Japan in the human appearance of the robots
(like nurse robots for old persons), but they are very impressed by the
reaction of people when they see a robot with two eyes, that can express an
emotion in their face...
Well It's my opinion, may be I'm wrong and people will accept human faces
robots...

The second part that I wanted to discuss with you is the way that the
economy is going to follow, you say that we'll become more artists and less
technic, but we are too numerous in the world to become all a new Rembrant
or Monet !
I agree with you when you say that factories will contain more robots than
humans, but I'm sure that there's going to engage crisis and create many
conflicts. This context will slow down the expansion of the robots
developpement.
Unfortunately, we'll have to make choices, and we'll reduce our expansion to
allow a good growth of the population. This is a very big problem...we are
actually incompetent to solve it, and we 'll not be able to solve it in the
future...(you can see the unemployment...)

Of course this is my opinion, this is not a critic of your work but just a
point of view.

Name:Anonymous Date/Time:2001/12/05
sounds to me that in your future only the very rich will survive,what will become of the poor?and do you even care?