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Backing up your brain is becoming a reality

New Scientist is running a story this morning about immortality -- not the physiological, philosopher's stone variety, though: digital immortality. What if, rather than dying, you could live on... inside a computer?

Physically we might die, but if an accurate representation of our brain and all of its associated memories can be recreated inside a digital computer, stored in digital memory, can we live forever?

In theory it's simple enough, argue a variety of 'real avatar' research groups. If you answer thousands of questions and submit millions of photos, a believable model can be created. But it isn't a quick process: "If you spent an hour a day answering questions, it would take five years to complete them all," says a representative of CyBeRev, a 'personal cyberconsciousness' project.

The better solution is lifecasting, or 'lifelogging'. Strap an always-on camera to your head. Give some mind profiling software access to your blog, your Facebook page, your Twitter account. Over time, an accurate representation of your mind could be generated (unless you tweet bullshit, of course!) Ultimately, we'll simply sit down, plug in and have our brains and psyches scanned by a computer, a la Dollhouse -- but sadly that's still some way off.

Imagine the implications of digital immortality, though: Imagine having a digital avatar that could share its wisdom with your great-great-great grandchildren! Imagine having an enigmatic, digital Steve Jobs acting as CEO for every company!

Better yet, imagine having a personal clone of yourself that thinks and acts just like you. You could task him or her (or it?) to manage your online presence, leaving you free to do interact in the real world. Heck, why stop at one digital clone? I want an army of Sebastians...
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Tags: avatar, backup, brain, caprica, consciousness, immortal, mind, science, technology