Sign In

Remember Me

Beyond the Borg


Ben Goertzel Interviews Researcher Alexandra Elbakyan on Brain-Machine Interfaces, Distributed Intelligence, and the Consciousness Singularity.

The goal of Brain Computer Interfacing technology is simple to describe — connecting the biocomputers in our skulls with the silicon chip based computers on our desks and in our pockets. And it’s also simple to imagine the vast array of life-changing possibilities this technology might provide once it matures. This interview highlights one of the most exciting of these potentials – the emergence of distributed mind networks that rely on direct brain-to-brain links.

I discussed the concept of using BCI to connect brains together a bit at the end of my 2009 H+ magazine article on BCI — “ Brain-Computer Interfacing: From Prosthetic Limbs to Telepathy Chips” . And the following year, at the 2010 Toward a Science of Consciousness conference in Tuscon, I was very pleased to encounter a young researcher – Alexandra Elbakyan — advocating a similar theme. Her poster at that conference was mainly on merging human and machine consciousness using BCI, but in discussion she quickly turned to the potential to use BCI to create shared consciousness among multiple humans and machines. At the H+ Summit @ Harvard conference later that year, she gave a talk specifically on the latter theme: “Brain-Computer Interfacing, Consciousness, and the Global Brain: Towards the Technological Enlightenment”

Alexandra began her career with a computer science degree from Kazakh National Technical University in her home country of Kazakhstan, in addition to her coursework pursuing a research project on security systems that recognize individuals via their brain waves. After obtaining her degree she worked for a while with the Human Media Interaction Group at the University of Twente on the mind-controlled game “Bacteria Hunt” ; and then at the Human Higher Nervous Activity Lab at the Russian Academy of Sciences studying consciousness. Most recently she has been involved with the Brain Machine Interfacing Initiative at Albert Ludwigs University in Freiburg developing prosthetic hands, and has worked at Steve Potter’s neuroengineering group at Georgia Tech. With all this diverse hands-on BCI experience plus a unique and broad long-term vision of the future potential of the technology, I was sure Alexandra would be fascinating to dialogue with.

Ben:
In your talk at the H+ Summit at Harvard University last June (2010), you said the following provocative words: “Potentially, brain chips can also be designed to have consciousness inside them. Inserted into a human brain, such a conscious implant would expand the user’s conscious experience with its own contents. For this, however, a new kind of brain-machine interface should be developed that would merge consciousness in two separate systems — the chip and the brain — into single, unified one.”

OK — this is pretty interesting and exciting-sounding! — but I have a few questions about it.

First – just to get this out of the way — what do you mean by “consciousness” when you use that word? As you know, different researchers give the word very different meanings.

Alexandra:
Yep, the word “consciousness” spans a broad spectrum of meanings. I refer to the most common one, known as “phenomenal consciousness”, or “qualia” in philosophers’ language. Consciousness, in this sense, is hard to define or explain but very easy to understand. Simply put, it is the ability to experience the world around us — in pictures, sounds, smells — plus the stuff that is happening inside our brain and body — thoughts, memories, emotions and etc.

May I describe an experiment to illustrate this better: If I put you in front of a computer screen that will show some image for a very very short time (around 15 ms), you won’t be able to see anything. But still, you will be able to learn and take actions based on this image. For example, if I give you a series of puzzle-solving tasks — some solvable and some not — and then flicker my invisible image for each unsolvable puzzle — then after, you’ll be more likely to drop the task when exactly this image is flickered, regardless of whether the task is solvable or not. So you actually perceived the image, memorized it and made a decision based on it. And all this happened without you actually noticing anything! This effect is called “unconscious priming.”

Such experiments show something exists that is different from mere thinking, perceiving, learning, acting, and living — something that enables us to actually experience what is going on — i.e., consciousness.

Ben:
So what do you think are the ingredients that would enable a brain chip to have qualia (consciousness) inside it? Am I correct in assuming that your hypothesized brain chip is an ordinary digital computer chip? So that the consciousness inside the chip — the qualia — are achieved by appropriate programming?

Alexandra:
I doubt the ordinary digital computer chips would be able to perform on par with the rest of the brain, given that we need a supercomputer to emulate even a single cortical column like in the Blue Brain project. So it seems that ordinary digital chips wouldn’t integrate well into real-time conscious experience.

It is more likely that a new class of information-processing hardware — neuromorphic chips — that is currently under active development, will be useful for the project. These neuromorphic chips try to mimic approaches used by biological nervous systems. Probably, they’ll be effective for recreating consciousness, too.

Ben:
Do you feel like you have a good subjective sense of what it would feel like to merge your brain-consciousness with a chip-consciousness in that way? Would it feel like expanding yourself to include something new? Or could it maybe feel like losing yourself and becoming something quite different?

Alexandra:
It depends on the implementation of the chip!

For example, we can (I hope) develop a chip that would “contain” visual qualia. Being connected to the brain, such chip will feel like a third eye, expanding our visual field to include pictures from the connected camera. This camera can be attached to one’s back — providing a 360-degree panoramic worldview — or it may be connected to the Internet and project to the consciousness pictures from remote places. And implants with visual qualia will surely be helpful for blind persons, too.

But visual consciousness is by no means the only modality of consciousness: there are also sounds, smells, thoughts, and so on, and every modality is unique, very different from all others. Probably, within a chip we can even engineer absolutely new kinds of conscious modalities — but how is it possible to imagine what these modalities will feel like?…

Ben:
Hmmmm… but taking the visual-qualia chip as an example: Would this chip be conscious in the sense that the brain is conscious, or merely conscious in the sense that the eye is conscious?

Alexandra:
Neither! The chip would be conscious in the sense that any part of the brain is conscious (i.e. any one of the parts that is directly involved in conscious experience, from which the retina is excluded so far as I know)

Ben:
A more interesting case would be a chip that would extend the human short-term memory capability beyond 7 +/-2 , to say 50 +/- 10…. Because this STM chip would be inserted right at the heart of our everyday conscious experience, our “theater of conscious experience” or “global workspace.” In this case, there seem to be two possibilities.
The first possibility is that our qualia, our subjective experience, would really feel extended over all 50 items in the STM.

The second possibility is that the regular old STM with 7+/- 2 capacity would feel like “our consciousness” and the other 43 or so new “memory slots” would just be feeding data into our awareness, as if they were an external data source.

Which possibility are you foreseeing would happen when the STM brain chip was implanted? I’m getting the feeling that you’re expecting the first one.

Alexandra:
Hmmmm …. both possibilities are interesting, actually.

But please remember that in order to think on the information stored in working memory, we need to bring it into awareness anyway!

I agree that our brains are capable of sophisticated unconscious problem-solving too, but in most cases, to think clearly, we need to be aware of what we’re thinking about. Probably, that’s why sketchpads, mindmaps and so forth are so useful for brainstorming — because we can simultaneously bring a collection of essential points into awareness by simply looking at the paper or screen.

In other words, expanding working memory without increasing awareness of its contents, will simply enable us to quickly remember more details. By expanding capabilities of our consciousness, we’ll be able to easily process these details simultaneously while thinking.

Ben:
So … you think both of my possibilities are feasible, but the first possibility is a lot more interesting, because a working memory that’s largely unconscious wouldn’t be capable of such advanced cognition as one that was more fully within consciousness.

Alexandra:
Yes – in addition to the fact that being conscious of what is going on in one’s brain – especially when it is busy solving some problem — is simply more interesting than just acting like a zombie, consciousness seem to play an important role in thinking itself.

Ben:
OK, now I have a more general sort of question. I’m wondering about the relation between “Ben with a 50-item working memory capacity” and “the present, stupid old legacy Ben with a mere 7+/-2 working memory capacity.” Would this new mentally-super Ben still feel like me?

In other words: I wonder how much our self-system is dependent on our limitations — and when these limitations are lifted, maybe in some sense we aren’t really our selves anymore?

Alexandra:
But we lift our limitations — by learning skills and acquiring knowledge — and progress from ourselves to non-ourselves every day. I’m not at all the same person as I was 5 years ago, and so on…

Ben:
That’s true, but some changes are bigger and more sudden than others. I’ve often wondered if some level of continuity of change is necessary to preserve the feeling of self. Since self is in some ways more a process than a state.

So maybe I should increase my STM capacity by one item each week, instead of going from 7 to 50 all at once!

Speaking of big changes to the mind, though — you’ve also discussed the possibility of using brain-computer interfaces to join multiple people together into a kind of global consciousness. This also gives rise to a lot of questions (an understatement, I guess!).

For instance, do you think it would be possible to feed one person’s thoughts somehow directly into another person’s brain, via interfacing the chips installed in their respective brains? Or do you think some kind of translation or normalization layer would be required between the two people, to translate one person’s individual thought-language into the other person’s individual thought-language?

Alexandra:
Actually, “feeding” thoughts from one brain to another, or even “translating” them is the complete opposite of the shared-consciousness concept!

Within shared consciousness we’ll be able to perceive thoughts that are going on in other brains directly, so there is no need to copy them anywhere. To explain, brain activity gives rise to unified conscious experience; but still, for this to happen, each separate neuron does not have to receive a copy of all thoughts that are being thought by all other neurons – instead, each neuron simply contributes its own part to the whole experience. The same holds when connecting minds of different people together: to bring up an experience of shared consciousness, one doesn’t require explicit transfer of thoughts from one brain to another.

But what information, if not thoughts, will be transferred through the connection then? That’s one of the things we need to figure out!

Ben:
Hmmm … I wonder if some of my own work on cognitive modeling may give some clues about that. One can model memory as “glocal”, i.e. memories can be modeled as containing localized aspects, but also global distributed aspects. The localized aspect of a memory can then trigger the activation of the global aspect, in the overall distributed mind network. This is how things work in our OpenCog AI system. So if thoughts have localized and globalized aspects, maybe it’s the localized aspects that get passed around, causing the globalized aspects to self-organize in the minds that receive the messages…

But, getting back to the experiential aspect — do you feel like you have a good subjective sense of what it would feel like to mentally link with other peoples’ minds in this way? Would it feel like becoming part of a greater whole, an uber-mind — or more like having other people’s thoughts flit in and out of one’s head? Or might the character of the experience depend sensitively on the details of the technical implementation?

Alexandra:
I thought about what the collective consciousness can feel like, and I can imagine three options here:

First of all, there’s “Borg-like” consciousness. This will feel like our experience, knowledge, and worldview have been tremendously expanded. We will have access to one another’s memories, feelings, and expertise, and therefore will be able to think more broadly, make better decisions, and generate better ideas.

Then there’s what I call “Background” consciousness. In this option, we will experience several simultaneous streams of consciousness, but these streams won’t influence each other in any way. We will be aware of several contradictory viewpoints (coming from different brains) at the same time, but still won’t be able to make decisions or generate ideas that take into account each of the viewpoints (unless connected people will discuss with each other, of course)

Finally – and most excitingly – there’s “Emergent” or “higher-level” consciousness. This one comes out of the idea that a group of people may itself constitute some kind of an organism. Just like biological cells, collected together, constitute a human being with higher levels of intelligence and consciousness than possessed by any individual cell, similarly a group of people can constitute yet another kind of being, that is capable of its own thinking and experience.

Actually, recent research has shown that collective intelligence within a group of people is actually present and irreducible to the intelligence of individual group members — this IQ arises from interactions between them. It is very possible that collective consciousness arises when people are brought together, too — and we may potentially experience this higher level of consciousness by physically connecting our brains through BMI (brain-machine interfacing)…

Ben:
Interesting possibilities! But, I’m afraid I don’t fully understand your distinction between borg consciousness and emergent consciousness – could you clarify?

Alexandra:
Emergent consciousness is different from Borg consciousness because in the Borg case, the content of consciousness is expanded — we have more ideas, and more sources that generate ideas, more experience, and so on, inside our mind; but still experience is basically the same.

Emergent consciousness, on the contrary, doesn’t have to share much with conscious experience that we have now, because its main substrate is not neural activity but individuals and interactions between them. As a result, the content of emergent consciousness won’t necessarily include all the ideas and experiences that individuals have, since not all these ideas end up being expressed in interactions. So the transformation will be more qualitative than quantitative.

Ben:
Hmmm, and I suppose this gives a different perspective on the question of “what gets transferred around” in a network of inter-sharing minds.

It may be that in a “mindplex” formed of multiple networked minds forming a distributed shared consciousness, the localized aspects of thoughts are transferred around, then leading to the crystallization of common brain-level globalized structures in multiple brains in the network ( as well as mindplex-level globalized structures spanning multiple brains)…. That’s how it would probably work if one networked together multiple OpenCogs into a shared-consciousness system,

Alexandra:
Well I see OpenCog, when fully developed, would be great for experimenting with consciousness….

Ben:
I hope so! At the moment it’s easier for me to think about distributed consciousness in an OpenCog context than a human context, because we have a better understanding of how OpenCogs work than brains at this point…

Alexandra:
In a way the “distributed consciousness” term better captures the essence than just “shared” consciousness. You can share in a lot of ways using BMI, even by transferring thoughts from one head to another, but what’s really unique about the possibilities enabled by BMI is the potential to make consciousness really distributed.

Ben:
But, thinking more about emergent consciousness … do you think that would feel like a loss of free will? Or, given that “free will” is largely an illusory construct anyway (cf the experiments of Gazzaniga, Libet and so forth), do you think our brains would construct stories allowing themselves to feel like they’re “freely willing” even though the emergent consciousness is having a huge impact on their choices? Or would the illusion of free will mainly pass up to the higher-level consciousness, which would feel like IT was freely deciding things?

Alexandra:
Actually, ascending onto higher (emergent) levels of consciousness, if done correctly, should feel like acquiring freedom, and not illusory.

Ben:
Ah, well, that’s a relief!

I suppose that’s why you called it the “Consciousness Singularity” (in your presentation at the H+ Summit @ Harvard)….

Alexandra:
If you think about it, emergent consciousness may already exist to an extent, in places where people engage in highly interactive collective information processing (e.g. Facebook). Remember that experiments provide evidence for existence of collective, or emergent (produced by interactions between members) intelligence within groups. And this intelligence does not require wiring brains together — language is enough to establish the necessary brain-to-brain interactions. The same can hold for consciousness — any group of people engaged in collective activities can produce this next level of consciousness as a result of their interactions.

Ben:
Right – these are examples of emergent consciousness, but they’re fairly limited. And when the phenomenon gets massively more powerful due to being leveraged by brain-computer interfaces and neural implants rather than just web pages and mobile phones and so forth then you get the Emergent Consciousness Singularity!

Alexandra:
Yes – and if you think about it, the Consciousness Singularity, is indeed the ultimate liberation of the immortal human soul…

In our present state, as relatively individualized minds, our freedom is greatly constrained by the society we live in. Engaging in social interactions always applies some constraints on our freedom, often very significant ones. Belonging to society makes us obey various laws and traditions — for example, not too long ago every woman had to be a housewife, and alternate careers were prohibited. Most women had nothing to do but submit to the constraint. However, the society itself as a whole was still “thinking” — in form of political debates and revolutions — on the topic of women rights, and finally got to the conclusion that set the women free. You see, individual women were not free to decide their career for themselves, due to social pressure; but society as a whole is free to think and make decisions on what it would want to look like. Hence, emergent consciousness has more freedom because it has nobody else around to set rules and constraints.

Ben:
Until the emergent uber-mind makes contact with the other, alien emergent consciousnesses, I suppose … then you’ll have society all over again!

But of course — then the various emergent consciousnesses could merge into an even bigger emergent consciousness!

Alexandra:
…and it will be great to live to see that sort of thing happen

Ben:
Well, you’ve also mentioned a connection between emergent consciousness and immortality, right?

Alexandra:
Exactly! If new technologies will enable us to somehow rise to this higher level of (emergent) consciousness, then we’ll ultimately become not only much more free, but essentially immortal, as a bonus. We will live as long as society exists. Just like replacing individual neurons in our brain doesn’t affect our existence as a whole, similarly we won’t be affected by the mortality of individuals anymore.

One may think that we’ll lose ourselves in that process, but losing yourself is a necessary feature of any transformation — including such everyday activities as learning, training, acquiring new experience, and so on. And, in case of emergent consciousness, we’ll still have our old self as a part of our new self, for some time.

Ben:
Hmmm – yeah, about “losing ourselves.” You say “we” will become almost immortal in this process. It seems clear that something that had its origin in human beings will become almost immortal, in this eventuality. But let’s say you and me and a few dozen or billion of our best friends merge into an emergent meta-mind with its own higher level consciousness. The immortality of this meta-mind won’t really be much like immortality of you or me personally, will it? Because what will be immortal will NOT be our individual selves, not the “Alexandra” or “Ben” constructs that control our brains at the moment. Although in a sense our personal streams of qualia might still exist, as threads woven into a much greater stream of qualia associated with the meta-mind…. So I wonder about your use of the pronoun “we” in the above. Do you really feel like this would be “your” immortality?

Alexandra:
Sure it will be mine, but “me” will be transformed at that point — I won’t be the same “me” as before. And you and your friends, too — we all will transform from being separate entities into one big single entity. So it’ll be everyone’s immortality – just in case you were worried about other people being left out!

Ben:
Well, I’m certainly convinced these would be interesting eventualities! I’m not quite convinced that it would be a transformed “me” living on in this sort of emergent consciousness, as opposed to some sort of descendant of “me.” But actually we don’t even have a good language to discuss these points. So maybe this is a good time to bring the conversation back toward the practical.

I wonder — in terms of practical R&D work going on today, what strikes you as most promising in terms of eventually providing a practical basis for achieving your long term goals?

Alexandra:
I can tell you which research areas I consider the most promising in terms of providing a sufficient theoretical basis for moving on to practical developments. These research areas are complex systems science, network science and connectomics (e.g. the Human Connectome Project).

Research in these areas will help us understand how to engineer a neural implant that will integrate itself successfully within a complex network of neurons; how the neural implant can fit well within the complex, self-organizing system that is the brain; and how separate, autonomous neural networks such as brains of different people can be wired together so that they will work as a system with single, unified consciousness.

Ben:
Definitely an understanding of complex networks will help a lot, and may even be critical. But what about the hardware and wetware aspect? How do you think the brain-computer interfacing will actually work, when your ideas are finally realized? A chip literally implanted into the brain, with the capability for neural connections to re-wire themselves to adapt to the chip’s presence and link into the chip’s connectors?

Alexandra:
Of course, it’s not easy to talk in concrete details about the future given that some new technology that changes everything can emerge anytime. But I’m happy to share a few guesses.

A common guess is that some technology will be invented that will enable machines to communicate wirelessly and simultaneously with a vast number of single neurons (and their synapses) in the brain. Such technology will be a kind of ultimate solution for the BMI problem and will be useful for consciousness-expanding endeavors too. Then, we won’t even need to implant anything — just wearing a special cap will be enough.

But I doubt something like that will be invented in near future.

My guess is that novel brain-machine interface designs that are applicable to my consciousness-expanding project will emerge from synthetic biology. Neural implants won’t be silicon-based microprocessors like we have now — rather, they will be completely novel artificially-designed biological machines.

Neural implants made of biological substrate will integrate easily into surrounding network of biological neurons. And by applying synthetic biology tools to this substrate, we’ll be able to engineer those functions that we need our implant to implement. We’ll be able to tinker with the substrate so it will perform faster and better than analogous biological processors (like brains) designed by nature. And we’ll be able to make this substrate compatible with classical silicon-based hardware.

Such a neural implant may be used as an autonomous brain-enhancer — or may serve as an intermediate layer between brain and computers, being compatible with each of them!

Ben:
Hmmm…. I’m wondering now about the interface between the implant device and the brain. Do you think you could just insert an implant, and let the brain figure out how to interact with it? Or will we need to understand the precise means via which intelligence emerges from neural wiring, in order to make a richly functional BCI device?

Alexandra:
I think it will be a compromise solution. New solutions for brain-machine interfacing will take advantage of innate brain capabilities for learning, plasticity, and self-organization. But for this, new BMI devices have to be designed in a much more brain-friendly way than now, and this will require better understanding of the brain itself. Probably, we won’t need a complete description of how neural wiring result in intelligence and consciousness — but some understanding of this process will be a necessary prerequisite for good BMI designs.

Ben:
Yes, I see. That sounds reasonably believable….

I’ll be pretty happy when this sort of technology leaves the realm of frontier science and enters the realm of everyday commodity! One day perhaps instead of just an iPhone we’ll have an iBrain, as I speculated once before!

So maybe, when the time comes, I’ll just be able to plug my iBrain into the handy cranial interface tube in the back of my head, let it burrow its way into my brain-matter appropriately, and then jack into the shared consciousness matrix, and feel my petty individual self give way to the higher emergent uber-mind.

Of course, there’s a lot of R&D to be done before we get there. But it’s thrilling to live at a time when young scientists are seriously thinking about how to do these things, as a motivation for their concrete research programs. O Brave New World, and so forth….

Anyway, thanks for your time and your thoughts – I’m really looking forward to seeing how your research in these directions progresses during the next years and decades. (Though of course, not as much as I’m looking forward to the Consciousness Singularity!)

15 Comments

  1. I’ll promote my criticisms of this idea, made on Alexandra’s blog last year.

    The idea of “qualia in a chip”, existing outside the skull, and yet somehow ending up as part of a conscious experience existing mostly inside the skull, because of an informational coupling between brain and chip… it’s a fairly logical idea given the metaphysics of mind that people have tried to construct from existing neuroscience. That metaphysics essentially says that consciousness is associated with some sort of computational finite state machine, and will show up irrespective of how that machine is physically implemented.

    However, I strongly suspect that this will prove to be a naive and wrong idea, and that consciousness is grounded more at the level of physics than at the level of computation. Enormous amounts of crap get written about the quantum mind, and there’s still no proof that quantum processes play a nontrivial role in human consciousness or human cognition. But the model of consciousness as being some substrate-independent form of computation is fundamentally dualistic. The stream of conscious states is imagined to coexist with the stream of computational states, even though “computation” is something of a user-defined, conventional construct, a way of looking at a process which is not intrinsic to the process’s purely physical properties.

    In my opinion, if human beings ever do have part of their consciousness literally residing in chips outside their head, it will be because consciousness is quantum and because there is a genuinely quantum coupling between brain and chip. So I don’t categorically rule out Alexandra’s project as impossible, but if it is possible, it requires a type of chip (solid-state quantum chip) that doesn’t exist yet, and it requires a level of neuroscientific understanding that we are nowhere near (namely, a presently nonexistent quantum neurobiology), and it requires coherent quantum coupling between brain and chip (classical signal processing won’t do). If all that is correct, then Alexandra has an incredibly long way to go to do this.

  2. Consciousness is pretty weird and you don’t want to mess with it without knowing what you are doing. Evidence from mental patients shows you can forget who you are permanently and live in a dream world sometimes catatonic. Have the writers forgotten this?

  3. While it was great to indulge in the cool future possibilities of BMI, I am excited about the more proximal opportunities. We have a lot of brain enhancing tools at our disposal, yet few of us takes full advantage. I would love to hear more about how we can leverage current tools such as internet, smart phones, and current narrow AI to increase our learning, creating, and implementing skills.

  4. The implications mentioned in the interview remind me of Mark 8:35 (in the Bible).

  5. If we have a brain computer interface will we be able to vary our perception of time?
    Like on Deep Space 9 where one of the characters is arrested for being a spy and sentenced to 50 or so years and serves the time in a simulated time compressed reality. thus gaining the memories of the events and his reactions in a short “real” length of time.
    If the brain could suddenly access many new memories from an implant at a higher speed than the events would take if occurring in “reality” than I would say yes.

    • That was my thought. To have experiences outside of the speed limits of our brain cells then have access to the memory of the experiences. We don’t remember every second of our lives at the instant of remembering. It is more like looking at a photo album of our experiences. Seeing different scenes that together gives us a frame of reference for storing the current moments of our lives. The expansion of our lives through a BMI would give us a larger photo collection to scan.

  6. Current Brain technology are fascinating, it just the beginning

    it will certainly be more practical and accurate, with nanorobot

    I give the first nanorobot system 5 years max to come into the market

    eventually, it willl lead to a parrallell artificial brain

    of course it means immortality

    Information immortality is the right immortality

    but do you want it ?

    Exponential data ?

    Ten billion more data than an human being : makes you something different from human being

    will we try to keep humanity ? or will you become a complete data machine ;: a 60 robot

    for me, there is no trascendantal path with the singularity

    there may or must be a max information limit at the top, for an AGI or a cousciouness

    and this mean : multiple cousciness is necessary

  7. Famously, brain-to-brain interfacing was the primary subject of Forever Peace by Joe Haldeman, an excellent novel published in 1997.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forever_Peace

    • thanks for pointing out the book – added it to my reading list 🙂

  8. I have been thinking lately about how we perceive time. If we have a brain computer interface will we be able to vary our perception of time? Would it be possible to experience a few hundred years of life without actually living hundreds of years biologically?

    • It can be possible if we find a way to “jump” onto the level of collective consciousness (as described in this article) – then, we won’t be limited by lifespan provided by our biological body anymore – it will decease but we’ll still be alive. In that sense, we can “live” for a few hundred additional years (and maybe even more) without our body surviving for that long. But of course, it is not the same as directly experiencing these N hundred years at once.
      A brain-computer interface can simply “interface” or connect us to existing machines – if we had some kind of a time machine, then what you suggest is possible.

    • I guess this would only be possible in the “upload case”, where your whole consciousness/mind-file is moved to a significantly faster computing medium. A brain implant probably wouldn’t be able to do that, because the legacy bio-components of your brain can’t get faster and you have to keep brain and implant in sync.
      But probably this technology offers a route for gradual uploading where brain regions are enhanced and later replaced until everything runs on superior artificial hardware.

    • I guess this would only be possible in the “upload case”, where your whole consciousness/mind-file is moved to a significantly faster computing medium. A brain implant probably wouldn’t be able to do that, because the legacy bio-components of your brain can’t get faster and you have to keep brain and implant in sync.
      But probably this technology offers a route for gradual uploading where brain regions are enhanced and later replaced until everything runs on superior artificial hardware.

Leave a Reply