PZ Myers aptly sums it up

Oy, singularitarians. Chris Hallquist has a post up about the brain uploading problem— every time I see this kind of discussion, I cringe at the simple-minded naivete that’s always on display. — PZ Myers

He goes on to explain how he has worked with zebrafish brains and how it is extremely difficult, impossible, to preserve them accurately. And further:

I think they’re grossly underestimating the magnitude of the problem. We can’t even record the complete state of a single cell; we can’t model a nematode with a grand total of 959 cells. We can’t even start on this problem, and here are philosophers and computer scientists blithely turning an immense and physically intractable problem into an assumption.

I agree, absolutely. Yet he probably doesn’t know how far those people take those assumptions. Here are just two quotes:

If you don’t sign up your kids for cryonics then you are a lousy parent. — Eliezer Yudkowsky, Normal Cryonics

I’ve signed up for cryonics (with Alcor) because I believe that if civilization doesn’t collapse then within the next 100 years there will likely be an intelligence trillions upon trillions of times smarter than anyone alive today. — James Miller

Don’t miss this comment from the thread:

Let’s do something extremely simple, instead:

Take a preserved cell phone, slice it into very thin slices, scan the slices, and build a computer simulation of the entire phone.

Question: what is the name, number, and avatar of the third entry in the address book?

Thanks for playing. Next time, bring in someone who “knows computers” before you make a jackass of yourself.

And also check out this old comment from lesswrong.com:

Looking at what happens during cryonics, I do not see any physically possible way this damage could ever be repaired. Reading the structure and “downloading it” is impossible, since many aspects of synaptic strength and connectivity are irretrievably lost as soon as the synaptic membrane gets distorted. You can’t simply replace unfolded proteins, since their relative position and concentration (and modification, and current status in several different signalling pathways) determines what happens to the signals that go through that synapse; you would have to replace them manually, which is a) impossible to do without destroying surrounding membrane, and b) would take thousands of years at best, even if you assume maximally efficient robots doing it (during which period molecular drift would undo the previous work).

Etc, etc. I can’t even begin to cover complications I see as soon as I look at what’s happening here. I’m all for life extension, I just don’t think cryonics is a viable way to accomplish it.

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  • Mitchell Porter

    I can’t tell what point was intended by the cellphone comment. That volatile electronic information would be lost? That knowing what the software means is an extra problem beyond simulation of the hardware?

  • http://kruel.co/ Alexander Kruel

    I don’t know about the intention of the original author but for me it showed well how difficult even the task reconstructing data from slices of a primitive artifact is.

    Brain preservation then is just ridiculously unlikely to be worthwhile at this point in time.

    No doubt people who are fond of brain preservation will be able to come up with all kinds of rationalizations for why it is worthwhile.

    Yet I don’t know of any document where an advocate of brain preservation does outline the decision procedure they used to conclude that it is a worthwhile investment compared to other expenditures.

    I reject any sort of handwaving involving highly conjunctive reasoning assigning arbitrary amounts of expected value to one’s survival, the assumption that enough information are somehow being preserved, the rise of vast superintelligences and optimism that the future is going to be desirable.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matt.smith.946179 Matt Smith

    what about the obvious point of… scanning would be a copy of you, and not you?