Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Ashes to ashes, brain to disk

Filed under
Sci/Tech

Death could become a thing of the past by the mid-21st century as computer technology becomes sophisticated enough for the contents of a brain to be "downloaded" on to a supercomputer, according to a leading British futurologist.

However, he told The Observer newspaper, this technology might be expensive enough to remain the preserve of the rich for a decade or two more.

Among other eyebrow-raising predictions by Ian Pearson, head of the futurology unit at British telecommunications giant BT, is the prospect of computer systems being able to feel emotions.

This could eventually involve such things as aeroplanes being programmed to be even more terrified of crashing than their passengers, meaning they would do whatever possible to stay airborne.

While the predictions might sound outlandish, they were merely the product of extrapolations drawn from the current rate at which computers are evolving, Pearson said in an interview with the newspaper. "If you draw the timelines, realistically by 2050 we would expect to be able to download your mind into a machine, so when you die it's not a major career problem," he said.

"If you're rich enough then by 2050 it's feasible. If you're poor you'll probably have to wait until 2075 or 2080 when it's routine.

"We are very serious about it. That's how fast this technology is moving: 45 years is a hell of a long time in IT."

As an example of the advances being made, Pearson noted that Sony's new PlayStation 3 computer games console is 35 times more powerful than the model it replaced, and in terms of processing is "1 per cent as powerful as a human brain".

"It is into supercomputer status compared to 10 years ago. PlayStation 5 will probably be as powerful as the human brain," he said.

Pearson said the next computing goal would be to replicate consciousness.

"Consciousness is just another sense, effectively, and that's what we're trying to design on a computer," he said.

"Not everyone agrees, but it's my conclusion that it's possible to make a conscious computer with superhuman levels of intelligence before 2020."

One of the "primary reasons" for such work would be to give computers emotions, Pearson said.

"If I'm on an aeroplane I want the computer to be more terrified of crashing than I am so it does everything to stay in the air until it's supposed to be on the ground."

Pearson predicts an age of "virtual worlds" by about 2020.

"We will spend a lot of time in virtual space, using high-quality, 3D, immersive, computer generated environments to socialise and do business in," he said. "When technology gives you a life-size 3D image and the links to your nervous system allow you to shake hands, it's like being in the other person's office. It's impossible to believe that won't be the normal way of communicating."

AFP

More in Tux Machines

Linux Emerging as Alternative to MS Windows

According to industry sources, Linux-based operation systems of Tmax OS and InfraWare are gaining much attention as alternatives to the Microsoft Windows. The latest version of the Linux has been significantly improved in terms of installation and use, providing a user interface similar to that of the Windows and coming with various software tools for documentation, multimedia utilization, etc. In addition, constraints on the Linux in the financial and public sectors are being removed one after another with Internet environments adopting Web standards. Under the circumstances, the software industry is expecting that the utilization of open-source operating systems will spread to the general consumer market as well as the enterprise market. Read more

NethServer 6.8 Linux Server Fights Spam with DNS-Based Blackhole List (DNSBL)

NethServer Community Manager Alessio Fattorini informs Softpedia today about the general availability of the first Beta release of the NethServer 6.8 server-oriented GNU/Linux operating system. Based on the recently released CentOS 6.8 operating system, which in turn builds on the freely distributed sources of the commercial Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.8 distro, NethServer 6.8 is now in development as the newest long-term support release. Read more

Comparing live version upgrade methods

When I review a distribution I always begin by performing a fresh installation of the operating system. This gives the latest version of the project a chance to stand on its own without complications. However, many of us do not perform fresh installations on our operating systems each time we want to upgrade to the latest release. Some of us, in order to preserve settings or installed packages, prefer to upgrade our existing operating system without starting over from scratch. This week I decided to take five open source operating systems through an upgrade process from their penultimate release to their latest version. Read more

Porteus Kiosk 4.0 Modular Linux Web Kiosk Released, Drops Chrome 32-bit Support

Porteus Solutions' Tomasz Jokiel announced on May 30, 2016, the release of the final Porteus Kiosk 4.0.0 Web Kiosk operating system based on the latest GNU/Linux technologies and open-source software. Porteus Kiosk 4.0.0 comes three months after the release of the last maintenance build in the Porteus Kiosk 3.x series, introducing numerous new features and improvements. But first, let's take a quick look under the hood, as the OS is now powered by Linux kernel 4.4.11 LTS (Long Term Support), and it's based on the Mozilla Firefox 45.1.1 ESR and Google Chrome 50.0.2661.102 web browsers. Read more