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Is copying a brain possible?

 
 
aperson
 
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2008 12:13 am
I was having a very a heated discussion with my classmates in Physics today. Apparantly if you copied your brain to a computer, or if you could create an exact copy of yourself (Prestige style), that other "person" is you. Complete, trash, of course, and I'm not here to discuss that. Anyway, our Physics teacher eventually got involved, and brought up an interesting point - even if you had sufficient technology, it is physically impossible to make an exact copy of the brain (in digitalized form). Why? Well as you know, elementary particles don't have fixed positions, only probabilistic positions. Ergo, the exact state on the brain can never be known.

Is this true? I don't know enough about the brain or particle physics to make a good assessment. Does the state of the brain depend upon the positions of sub atomic particles? If not, I thought that while sub-atomic particles do not have fixed positions, atoms themselves do. And digitalized information can be copied, even though the positions of sub-atomic particles are not known. Is a brain any different?
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Type: Question • Score: 2 • Views: 1,561 • Replies: 9
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NickFun
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2008 12:19 am
@aperson,
Certain things are known about the brain such as what areas are activated during memory, recall, comprehension etc. However, the exact nature of 'memories' and 'thoughts' are still unknowns. The nature of consciousness eludes even the brightest minds. Though copying a brain down to its last neuron may be possible, copying the contents of that brain would not be.
hingehead
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2008 12:41 am
@aperson,
I'm never going to say never.

But the brain is a biological construct, I don't know that particle physics really comes into it (explicitly) like it does with digital memory storage.

And as Nick says it's not clear how and where memories are stored, and they are only part of the mind - there's a whole bunch related to perception patterns applied to the various sensory input from external organs.

Even if you could copy it digitally - what would that prove? It's not a mind unless it can move on from that snapshot moment of copy creating new neural pathworks, absorbing and creating information.
aperson
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2008 12:54 am
@NickFun,
I think that (no offense) you are showing typical tendencies towards mysticism and spirituality relating towards the workings of the brain. If we are going to discuss this topic, these tendencies must be put aside. Please don't, don't say that because something is unknown, it is not knowable. The cause of stitch is unknown, but you probably have no doubt that we will eventually discover it. Apply this same thinking to the workings of the brain. Copying a brain down to its last neutron is the equivelent to copy the contents of that brain.
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aperson
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2008 01:00 am
@hingehead,
Ok, I'm assuming we have the technology and ability and knowledge to copy the brain, which we eventually will in the best (or worst) case senario. You can't say that something is impossible because it is really difficult.

Once you have copied it, a digitalized "engine", if you will, of a brain could be contructed, and the information could be placed in that engine.
hingehead
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2008 01:13 am
@aperson,
There was a lot of stuff done last decade on neural networks, effectively trying to create a 'learning' computer based on the neural interconnects of the human brain. I remember reading an article about one that actually 'dreamed' when they powered it down.

Neural nets were sexy then but I don't here of them much now - probably the NSA has locked all the researchers under a mountain because they were getting close to producing something from the Terminator movies.
aperson
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2008 05:45 pm
@hingehead,
Interesting. Do you know where I could read about this?

It will probably decades, maybe even centuries, before we even get close.
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Zweinstein
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Sep, 2021 03:19 pm
@NickFun,
The brain has a virtual infinite memory capacity. The alledged correspondance with a computer memory doesn't hold. The entire universe can virtually be stored in the brain. But it's a dynamic memory, not a static one. There are about 10exp(10exp40) possible neuronal pathways.
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Zweinstein
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Sep, 2021 03:20 pm
@hingehead,
I can tell you for sure it can't.
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Zweinstein
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Sep, 2021 04:49 pm
@aperson,
Are you serious? It's impossible in principle to make a brain in the lab or tranport the mind to a computer.
0 Replies
 
 

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