Is it possible to digitize human consciousness?

Lots More Information

Author's Note: Is it possible to digitize human consciousness?

Critics of digital immortality question some of the basics of the concept. First, digital immortality raises serious ethical and moral questions, as well as concerns about integrity and privacy. For instance, do memories have rights? It possible to subpoena memories? Then there may be a problem with transplantation: Some scientists warn that to successfully transplant a human brain, the spinal cord would need to be transplanted concurrently. Critics have also questioned whether an emulation of the brain is truly conscious. Christof Koch, a neuroscientist and the chief scientific officer at the Allen Institute for Neuroscience in Seattle, perhaps said it best: "You can simulate weather in a computer, but it will never be 'wet.'" Similarly, Koch's peers continue on against replicating human consciousness in a silicon computer chip because, unlike inside the biological brain, the emulation can't and won't provide any unpredictable behavior or nonlinear interactions — a defining characteristic of being human.

Related Articles

More Great Links


  • 2015. (June 20, 2015)
  • Collins, Francis. "The Symphony Inside Your Brain." National Institutes of Health, NIH Director's Blog. Nov. 5, 2012. (June 20, 2015)
  • Cook, Gareth. "Sebastian Seung's Quest to Map the Human Brain." The New York Times Magazine. Jan. 8, 2015. (June 20, 2015)
  • Danigelis, Alyssa. "Immortality for Humans by 2045." Discovery News. July 27, 2012. (June 20, 2015)
  • Drummond, Katie. "Russian Mogul's Plan: Plant Our Brains In Robots, Keep Them Alive Forever." Wired. Feb. 29, 2012. (June 20, 2015)
  • Dvorsky, George. "You Might Never Upload Your Brain Into a Computer." Io9. April 17, 2013. (June 20, 2015
  • Fessenden, Marissa. "We've Put a Worm's Mind in a Lego Robot's Body." Smithsonian. Nov. 19, 2014. (June 20, 2015)
  • Forbes. "America's Richest Self-Made Women. #35: Martine Rothblatt." Forbes. 2015. (June 20, 2015)
  • Lewis, Tanya. "Scientists Closing in on Theory of Consciousness." LiveScience. July 30, 2014. (June 20, 2015)
  • Moskowitz, Clara. "The Secret Tomb of China's 1st Emperor: Will We Ever See Inside?" LiveScience. Aug. 17, 2012. (June 20 2015)
  • Muehlhauser, Luke and Stuart Armstrong. "Can We Really Upload Johnny Depp's Brain?" Slate. April 13, 2014. (June 20, 2015)
  • Owano, Nancy. "DARPA Sets Aside $7 Million for 'Avatar' Robot Pals in Battle." PhysOrg. Feb. 18, 2012. (June 20, 2015)
  • Parkin, Simon. "Back-up Brains: The Era of Digital Immortality." BBC. Jan. 23, 2015. (June 20, 2015)
  • Pinchefsky, Carol. "Dmitry Itskov Wants To Live Forever. (He Wants You To Live Forever, Too.)." Forbes. June 18, 2013. (June 20, 2015)
  • Piore, Adam. "The Neuroscientist Who Wants to Upload Humanity to a Computer." Popular Science. May 16, 2014. (June 20, 2015)
  • Pollock, Amy. "Amputees Control Bionic Legs With Their Thoughts." Reuters. May 20, 2015. (June 20, 2015)
  • Reardon, Sara. "The Pentagon's Gamble on Brain Implants, Bionic Limbs and Combat Exoskeletons." Nature. Vol. 522, No. 7555. Pages 142-144. June 10, 2015. (June 20, 2015)
  • RT. "Living Forever as Robot? Prototype Lets Humans Upload Their Mind Into Mechanized 'Heads.'" Feb. 6, 2015. (June 20, 2015)
  • Segal, David. "This Man Is Not a Cyborg. Yet." The New York Times. June 1, 2013. (June 20, 2015)
  • Sofge, Erik. "Will mind transfer ever happen?" Popular Science. June 15, 2015. (June 20, 2015)
  • Thompson, Cadie. "Live Forever? Maybe, by Uploading Your Brain." CNBC. May 4, 2015. (June 20, 2015)
  • Tucker, Neely. "Martine Rothblatt: She Founded SiriusXM, a Religion and a Biotech. For Starters." The Washington Post. Dec. 12, 2014. (June 20, 2015)

More to Explore