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

Release: SymphonyOS 15.0

I am pleased to announce the release of SymphonyOS 15.0. This release continues improvements to the Mezzo 4 desktop bringing it to a much more stable state. Read more

GOL Survey Results: January

Thanks to GOL reader Fedso, we now have month-by-month comparisons for the survey as well as an automated program which takes the raw survey data and makes graphs. This is pretty exciting stuff since now one of the main goals of the survey project has been achieved and we can observe trends over time. You can find the new survey for this month here. Read more

2014 was a record-breaking year for Android smartphones

Apple may be selling more iPhones than ever before, but 2014 was a record-breaking year for Android too: New analyst figures show that one billion smartphones running Google’s mobile OS were shipped over the 12 month period. That’s a rise of 30 percent over the previous year and means that 81 percent of the mobile phones shifted in 2014 were running Android. If you’re wondering why both iOS and Android can be doing so well simultaneously, it’s worth remembering that profits and market share are not the same metric — more devices run Android but Apple is raking in more of the cash. A number of different manufacturers produce Android phones of course, none of whom are doing particularly well at making money from it. Read more

CoreOS 'Rockets' Ahead With Docker Alternative

Linux operating system distribution vendor CoreOs aims to expand its own vision for container-based virtualization. CoreOS is moving forward on its plans to displace the Docker application virtualization technology and expand its own vision for container-based virtualization. CoreOS got its start in 2013 as a clustered operating system project focused on the optimized delivery of Docker containers but has found fault in the Docker model that it aims to correct with its own Rocket approach. Read more Also: CoreOS Linux: it's how Google, Facebook & Twitter run at scale