Perhaps you have been reading carboncopies.org and spent some time following discussions and announcements on the carboncopies Facebook group. You may even have dug deeper, carried out Internet and literature searches to learn more about Substrate-Independent Minds, about Whole Brain Emulation, about mind uploading, etc. SIM sounds intriguing, the possibilities sound valuable. So far, what you have seen looks like philosophical discussion to you. Futurism for its own sake is unsatisfying to you and you wonder: What is the next step?
If you want to do more, if you want to learn more, and if you hope to contribute to the field of research towards SIM, where can you start? How to apply your efforts in a practical manner?
Well, you are very fortunate! The field of SIM research and development has progressed quite a bit beyond mere philosophical debate since its inception. There are groups of researchers, scientists and engineers with backgrounds in many different disciplines (neuroscience, physics, computer science, and mechanical engineering being just a few examples) who have been coordinating and collaborating since at least 1994.
Some of those researchers you know from the articles, videos and events presented at carboncopies.org, such as Dr. Ken Hayworth (architect of the Automatic Tape-collecting Lathe Ultra-Microtome), Dr. Peter Passaro (who reconstructed the functional network of the aquatic snail Lymnea using electrode recordings in-situ). There are quite a few more. As connectomics, neural prostheses and the reconstruction of brain circuitry have gained popularity, coordination of effort has begun to include the work of mainstream luminaries at MIT, Harvard, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories, the EPFL, etc. Of course, most of that takes place in the context of specific projects and through meetings, conferences, and email. While the carboncopies Facebook group is a good place for SIM news and discussion, a deeper involvement will require a connection with this network of research and development.
So, where do you start? To gain a better understanding of the objective and the problems is a good first task. What is a SIM supposed to be? What would you consider a case of success in developing SIM?
If you know that, then you can step back and consider: So, why has this not been achieved already? What are the problems that stand in our way? You can try listing them. As you do that, you will notice the truly important questions, and you will come up with directions in which you can seek answers.
Finding those answers may require that you first take a look at yourself more deeply. What is a mind? What is a brain? How does it work? What would you need to be able to do to take those processes and the stored knowledge, and to transfer those into a reimplementation in a satisfactory way?
As you begin to answer some of those questions for yourself, you strip away some of the parameter space and focus on approaches that can achieve successful SIM. And you will connect with those of us who are as dedicated to that achievement as you are.
UPDATE: We are presently looking for Team Members!