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Whole brain emulation (WBE) is the principal method proposed by which to accomplish SIM and many other purposes (e.g. general brain research, research into clinical neural prostheses, research into artificial intelligence, etc.). In academic research, the shorter term "brain emulation" is sometimes used, and terms such as "whole-brain activity mapping" are used to describe data acquisition tools developed and used in closely related fields of neuroscience. Whole brain emulation uses high resolution data about specific brain structure (e.g. the connector) and specific brain activity (e.g. electrophysiology).

how can whole brain emulation be accomplished?

There are presently 2 proposed approaches:

  1. Gradually replace each small piece of a brain with a neuroprosthetic device that does the same thing until all parts of that brain have been replaced and the entire brain residing inside the skull is artificial.
  2. Preserve a biological brain (it is dead at that point), cut it into extremely tiny slivers and image each one of those, reconstruct a working artificial brain from the information in those slices (plus some additional information previously recorded).

The same two approaches are presented at a high level in step-wise fashion in the following diagram panels:

What are substrate-independent minds (SIM)?

Neuroscience research has demonstrated that a mind's functions are implemented through neurobiological mechanisms of the nervous system. If the same functions are recreated in a different operating substrate (e.g. a special "neuromorphic device", software executed in a digital computer, etc.) such that they produce the same results as the original mind then it is a substrate-independent mind. The possibility for execution of this process is supported by the strong neuroscientific consensus that behavior and experience, phenomena correlated with what we consider mental processes of the mind, emerge from biophysical functions that are adequately described in terms of classical physics. These information processing functions of mind are computable, so it follows that the mind is computable.


What Sim technology & research Is COMPLETED?

Neuroinformatics investigations that seek to map the detailed "connector" of the human brain are essential for the whole brain emulation (WBE) approach to SIM. Well-known examples of research in this field are the Blue-Brain Project, large-scale brain models created by Eugene Izhikevich and the DARPA Synapse Project. Another important component is scanning technology capable of rapid brain tissue preparation and in-vivo recording, and increased spatial and temporal resolution. Examples are the Automatic Tape-Collecting Lathe Ultramicrotome (ALTUM) developed by Kenneth Hayworth and use of optogenetics and nanotechnology. See the article Fundamentals of Whole Brain Emulation: State, Transition and Update Representations and Whole Brain Emulation: A Roadmap for an introduction and an overview of projects.


Is SIM related to ideas about "mind uploading"?

The popular term "mind uploading" (sometimes called "mind copying" or "mind transfer") is the hypothetical process of copying mental content (including long-term memory and "self") from a particular brain substrate to a computational device, such as a digital, analog, quantum-based or artificial neural network. However, "uploading" has very different meanings in the conversations of different communities. In some cases the target medium referred to is intended merely to store the data, while in others it is also intended to carry out the functions, i.e. to emulate the"uploaded mind".