Two of George Dvorsky’s eight reasons why
“You’ll Probably Never Upload Your Mind Into a Computer”
4. Panpsychism is true.
Panpsychists speculate that all parts of matter involve mind. Neuroscientist Stuart Hameroff has suggested that consciousness is related to a fundamental component of physical reality — components that are akin to phenomenon like mass, spin or charge. According to this view, the basis of consciousness can be found in an additional fundamental force of nature not unlike gravity or electromagnetism. This would be something like an elementary sentience or awareness. As Hameroff notes, “these components just are.” Likewise, David Chalmers has proposed a double-aspect theory in which information has both physical and experiential aspects. Panpsychism has also attracted the attention of quantum physicists (who speculate about potential quantum aspects of consciousness given our presence in an Everett Universe), and physicalists like Galen Strawson (who argues that mental/experiential is physical).
Why this presents a problem to mind uploading is that consciousness may not substrate neutral — a central tenant of the Church-Turing Hypothesis — but is in fact dependent on specific physical/material configurations. It’s quite possible that there’s no digital or algorithmic equivalent to consciousness. Having consciousness arise in a classical Von Neumann architecture, therefore, may be as impossible as splitting an atom in a virtual environment by using ones and zeros.
Though still controversial, there’s also the potential for panpsychism to be in effect. This is the notion that consciousness is a fundamental and irreducible feature of the cosmos. It might sound a bit New Agey, but it’s an idea that’s steadily gaining currency (especially in consideration of our inability to solve the Hard Problem).
Once our minds are uploaded, they’ll be physically and inextricably connected to the larger computational superstructure. By consequence, uploaded brains will be perpetually vulnerable to malicious attacks and other unwanted intrusions.
To avoid this, each uploaded person will have to set-up a personal firewall to prevent themselves from being re-programmed, spied upon, damaged, exploited, deleted, or copied against their will. These threats could come from other uploads, rogue AI, malicious scripts, or even the authorities in power (e.g. as a means to instill order and control).
Indeed, as we know all too well today, even the tightest security measures can’t prevent the most sophisticated attacks; an uploaded mind can never be sure it’s safe.