A leading neuroscientist believes that we may soon be able to upload the human brain on to a computer.
It might sound like something out of a science fiction movie, but within the not-too-distant future it might actually become possible for someone to exist digitally inside a machine.
According to Cambridge neuroscientist Dr Hannah Critchlow, to make this happen we would need a computer capable of storing the trillions of connections that exist within the human brain.
“People could probably live inside a machine,” she said. “I think it is definitely a possibility.”
If the right hardware and software could be designed to accomodate the entirety of the brain’s memories, pathways and functions then a person might, in theory, be able to live inside it.
Someone may even be able to exist in this state forever providing the machine kept working, potentially offering a way for someone to live on even after their physical body has died.
“If you had a computer that could make those 100 trillion circuit connections – then that circuit is what makes us us,” said Dr Crithclow during a talk on ‘busting brain myths’. “We are about 100 billion nerve cells and the most complicated circuit board you could imagine.”
Whether such a thing would ever be practical or desirable however remains a matter of debate.
Would someone who has been uploaded to a machine still be alive ? Would they be aware of who or what they were and what would their quality of life be ? Would they be able to communicate ?
Without answers to these questions it’s not something that is likely to elicit a lot of volunteers.