The Prospects of Whole Brain Emulation within the next Half- Century

Open access


Whole Brain Emulation (WBE), the theoretical technology of modeling a human brain in its entirety on a computer-thoughts, feelings, memories, and skills intact-is a staple of science fiction. Recently, proponents of WBE have suggested that it will be realized in the next few decades. In this paper, we investigate the plausibility of WBE being developed in the next 50 years (by 2063). We identify four essential requisite technologies: scanning the brain, translating the scan into a model, running the model on a computer, and simulating an environment and body. Additionally, we consider the cultural and social effects of WBE. We find the two most uncertain factors for WBE’s future to be the development of advanced miniscule probes that can amass neural data in vivo and the degree to which the culture surrounding WBE becomes cooperative or competitive. We identify four plausible scenarios from these uncertainties and suggest the most likely scenario to be one in which WBE is realized, and the technology is used for moderately cooperative ends

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