Dmitry Itskov wants to live forever, and thinks that uploading his mind into a computer will somehow help with that.
It sounds preposterous, but there is no doubting the seriousness of this softly spoken 35-year-old, who says he left the business world to devote himself to something more useful to humanity. “I’m 100% confident it will happen. Otherwise I wouldn’t have started it,” he says.
The proposed technology might be plausible (I suspect it is eventually inevitable), but it has nothing whatsoever to do with immortality, except insofar as such ambitions incentivize its development. It’s profoundly confused.
“If you could replicate the mind and upload it into a different material, you can in principle clone minds,” says [Columbia University neurobiologist Prof Rafael] Yuste. “These are complicated issues because they deal with the core of defining what is a person.”
No, if you could replicate the mind and upload it onto a different material substrate all you could possibly be doing would be cloning a mind. The clone could be persuaded to identify with you — this would perhaps be inescapable given what it is (a high-fidelity copy), and thus the delusion of immortality might be perpetuated. The original, however, is going to die just as much as it was before being copied.
The truly interesting question, given the scrambling of the metaphysics of personal identity which would surely follow from such advances, is: What exactly dies anyway? (If — even as a baseline human — you’re in reality continuously reconstructed, and hence a distantly-descended copy of yourself, you’ve probably already done a lot more dying than you think.)