Body and Spirit might be in heaven one day.
But your mind might continue to live on (in a hell or otherwise) on earth.
It’s called the Blue Brain project, courtesy of that “Big Blue” company vying for AI bleeding edge technology, IBM.
A new research paper details how the world’s first modern computer corporation is staying in the “singularity” game (the quest to create artificial intelligence that can broadly outdo human intelligence).
With “Blue Brain,” IBM is embarked on making the vision of capturing and continuing the totality of a human consciousness beyond the death of the human associated with that consciousness.
As the paper explains:
“This virtual brain will preserve and harness a person’s information, intelligence, personality, emotions, and memories, contributing to the advancement of human society. The ultimate objective of this research is to enable the uploading of the human brain into a machine.”
The paper notes that IBM is using a “reverse engineering” framework to try to accomplish their objective.
They are trying to digitally construct an analogue to mammalian brain, which could then serve as the repository for not only the information of a human lifetime of experience, but a digital intelligence that would continue to think, and potentially, experience a kind of perpetual (some might call it eternal) existence.
If it all sounds like yet another moral and ethical morass just waiting to be foisted on the world by unbound science, read on…
Altruism Or De-Human Commoditization?
Technocrats, like other entrepreneurs, sell based on what-if dreams and best case scenarios that often have little to do with any rigorous evaluation or modeling of that age-old adage, “what could go wrong?”
Like so many current genetic and AI projects, there is next to nothing constraining a sort of wholesale approach to commoditizing humanness itself.
For more than a generation now, genetic science has seen humans as an encoded biological blueprint of genetics to be mined, and exploited to create new products or code revision “improvements.”
In a similar vein, and especially with the rapid advancements of generative AI systems built in some ways off human brain neural learning, AI is also looking to learn in pragmatic ways from human intelligence, to design the most powerful (and profitable) possible AI.
The touting of benefits to humans is often a cynical mask meant to allay and diffuse concerns over thorny and even dangerous aspects of various projects and goals.
With respect to “Blue Brain,” we’re asked to imagine how amazing and beneficial to mankind it would be to still have the services of some of the great minds of history.
Having the mind of Albert Einstein, Elvis, for that matter, interfacing with vocal mimicking technology to sing us new songs that authentically exude the King’s otherwise inimitable timing, charisma and personality, would certainly be enough to tempt most people to greenlight and thumbs-up “Blue Brain.”
Of course, those still living, of sufficient means, and not content to have their lot thrown in with billions of average humans who live, have experiences, contribute in one way or another to this common phenomenon recognize as “existence,” and die, can be expected to see the obvious allure of “immortality” in the Blue Brain project.
It’s hard to make money off people who don’t have sufficient sums of it. There’s no reason to think that “minds of means” won’t be high on the list of those in cue to be imprinted forever into an AI analogue.
Power Preserved From Beyond the Grave
Which is as ready a segway as any to what might be some of the downsides of trying to capture human personas in digital.
Imagine your average mega billionaire, have gone through the trouble of amassing that outsized wealth, smothering and buying up competitors here in there, acquiring media outlets and satellite orgs to promote their image, narratives and preferred ideologies and visions…purchasing political influence to protect and grow their pot…but now having to face that awful portal, where none of that power can go with them?
Right now, the best that can be done is to set up trusts and endowments and foundations, to carry on their influence without them, according to carefully constructed legal codicils.
How much better would it be if their conscious intelligence could continue in some way, actively utilizing and directing and growing that power into the future.
It might be Bill Gates and that foundation of his. Or maybe Blue Brain will be finished in time for George Soros to have his ego uploaded.
Then there’s Joe Biden. Imagine the wise council of 50 years in national politics as a senator, Vice-President and President, being preserved to advise and comment on events with the same acuity and mental agility he does right now!
The authors of the paper on Blue Brain contemplate certain aspects of human personas that suggest maybe after transfers from corpus carbon to corpus silicon, some additional work might be in order:
“This modeling encompasses various aspects of brain functionality, including the understanding of brain dysfunctions such as mental conditions like depression and autism, as well as cognitive abilities like language, learning, perception, and memory. Subsequently, the scope of modeling will extend to cover additional brain regions.”
In the case of a geriatric Biden, unfortunately given to rambling and unfinished thoughts, fabricated memories, “old man” crankiness and general mental inertia, intervention by skilled AI scientists, together with psychologists, historians and other experts, would be in order.
They could tweak old Joe’s valuable brain to give, say, an incarnation of the man c. 1987, when he tried valiantly to blab-dodge his way out of that plagiarism bullet which doomed his first grasp at the Oval Office ring.
In fact, scientists will eventually be able, no doubt, to boot up different instances of illustrious personas, at different points in their existence, depending on what qualities and contributions are desired.
Do you want that young Elvis, carefully attired and constructed to be a rebellious icon of an era, along with James Dean and Marlon Brando?
Or do you perhaps prefer the wiser, wisecracking Elvis as he envisaged his own audacious persona freed from Hollywood’s constraints, with Memphis sideburns, studded rhinestones and a cape?
Of course, the most sensible thing to make of the Blue Brain project is that it really offers just a fantasy.
Even if brain wave data and AI neural nets can be combined and imbued with ongoing, state of the art AI consciousness, the intelligence spun to life would not be the flesh and blood human being who once existed on earth.
Even now, creating AI analogues, via generative conversational AI, sophisticated imaging and video software, and AI audio voice print matched tools is all the rage.
Luminaries, influencers and OnlyFans pornstars are offering digital avatars of themselves, available 24/7 for interactions, via subscriptions.
If—or perhaps, we must admit—when IBM or Tesla or OpenAI or one of the other handful of leading AI corporate monoliths hits upon breakthrough technology that can imprint all the material “substance” gleanable from a human brain, into a digital intelligence, that AI will represent its human with astounding, eerie accuracy.
Relatives and lovers will swear by it. There will be a whole industry of new legal frameworks to deal with all the implications, and the rights, material and otherwise, of various parties to the perfectly commoditized, replicable human persona.
That persona may seem to embody in totality, the personality and ongoing consciousness of what was once a physical and finite human.
But if that feeble, physical human somehow could have stayed the tide of time and physical ravages that come with it, they might have woken up one morning with a desire to take up painting, or leave their partner, or simply change their mind on some issue or philosophy that had once guided them.
In other words, they almost certainly would soon diverge from that supposed perfect digital doppelganger, and over time, likely diverge more and more, until the one might be unrecognizable from the other.
Some might simply consign that to the nature of the multiverse created.
But, some, who believe in the irreducible individuality of each whole human being, might argue that the one never truly captured the other, at all.
The full research paper can be found here. (Jadhav, Aakanksha and Jadhav, Dr Ramesh D and Jadhav, Aditya, Blue brain technology – Artificial intelligence using brain Simulation, October 5, 2023. Available at SSRN.)
For related reading, see:
- “DE-HUMAN ‘COMMODITY EVOLUTION’” (7 Mar 2023)
- “HUMAN BRAIN CELL ORGANOIDS BEING WEAPONIZED IN CREATION OF ‘LIVING’ AI” (8 Aug 2023)