Like most of us, the neuroscientist Dr David Eagleman clearly remembers that moment last March when the world began to shut down. “As we went into quarantine, we all thought what a crazy two or three weeks it’s going to be — and here we are, almost a year later.”
Well before we understand how brains work, we may find ourselves able to digitally copy the brain’s structure and able to download the conscious mind into a computer. What are the possibilities and challenges?
To the extent that consciousness is useful, it is useful in small quantities, and for very particular kinds of tasks. It’s easy to understand why you would not want to be consciously aware of the intricacies of your muscle movement, but this can be less intuitive when applied to your perceptions, thoughts, and beliefs, which are also final products of the activity of billions of nerve cells.