Can the Mind Be Downloaded?

Part of the Neurobiology For Dummies Cheat Sheet

As computers become more powerful, there is increasing speculation about whether they could equal or surpass human intelligence. One thread in this discussion is the idea of downloading our minds into an artificial substrate such as a computer. Most neuroscientists are very skeptical about this idea for a few reasons:

  • What we actually know about the brain is that it’s extremely complex. It consists of on the order of 100 billion neurons each with a thousand connections to other neurons. No present-day substrate can come close to this complexity.

  • Neuroscientists think that the essential function of the brain is carried out by neural computations that generate action potentials that are sent to other neurons.

  • Even if we could measure the firing of every neuron in the brain, and the strength of every synapse producing that firing, and download or model that in silicon, we still don’t know if it would actually work like a human brain.

Bottom line: Your thoughts are your own, for the foreseeable future.

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Neurobiology For Dummies Cheat Sheet

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