X-Message-Number: 816
Date: 08 May 92 02:45:11 EDT
From: Brian Wowk <>
Subject: Brain Scan Question

David Stodolsky: 
> Capabilities for reliably storing patient identity as data may be available 
> before capabilities are available for reliably storing it by suspension. If  
        Quantum statistics demand that billions of Joules be deposited in the  
brain to achieve micron resolution with x-rays.  (A billion billion Joules  
would be required for molecular resolution.)  No scenario has been presented  
for doing this without simultaneously destroying the brain, recording media,  
and city they both reside in.  Now it is being suggested that this technology  
might be achieved before reversible brain preservation! 
        This dialogue reminds me of an interview with Hans Moravec in Omni  
magazine a few years ago.  As I recall, Hans was asked what he thought about  
cryonics, and quickly dismissed it as too "crude."  He then explained how he  
was much more fascinated by reconstructing the identity of deceased persons  
by using clues left in their environment (writing, photographs, and so on).   
(!!!!!!!!!!)  My reply is: What better clue can a person leave about their  
identity than their brain? 
        Unfortunately Dr. Moravec's thinking is typical of many people in the  
AI and computer science community: The enthusiasm exhibited toward new  
technologies seems to be directly proportional to how impractical they are.   
Everyone is going on and on about imaging neuronal circuitry (as if identity  
is just connectivity) and uploading like they are going to happen next week. 
        While this kind of stuff may be fun to talk about, it must be  
realized that none of it is going to happen within the natural lifetime of  
anyone reading this message.  Believing that we will be able to read out and  
external store the contents of a human mind in anything less than 40 to 50  
years from now is sheer fantasy.  I think anyone who says otherwise has just  
not read enough biology.           
        In the meantime, we are all dying.  The question is: What are you  
going to do about it?  Are you going to risk dying before these arcane memory  
extraction technologies come along, or are you going to arrange to have your  

brain stored in case things take a bit longer than expected?  Think about it.
                                               --- Brian Wowk 

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