Silicon Minds

Elsewhere in these notes we have referred to C-Bio & S-Bio as respectively carbon & silicon based biologies. This is a short hand that does not make clear a very important point. Namely, carbon based chemistry is the only chemistry capable of bootstrapping the development of mind. By mind we mean the property of self awareness or consciousness. However, once a C-Bio has bootstrapped a species capable of consciousness, that species is faced with the horrible dilemma of being aware of its own mortality. In addition C-Bio based minds are severely restricted as to the environments they can survive in, have very long and expensive training courses and the learned experiences of even outstanding individuals are basically lost with the death of the individual.

It is therefore, inevitable that a scientifically & technologically advanced society will pursue avenues leading to the creation of conscious minds based on less fragile substrate than C-Bio protoplasm. Even our early stage of development of computer technology suggests that a silicon based substrate might be appropriate to implement mind like systems. This notion occurred to early pioneers in computer development. In fact, as early as the 1960's a number of researchers pursued the quest for Artificial Intelligence (AI) machines or software. This search as been, so far, basically sterile. The reason for this lack of clear progress will become clear later in this note.

When we speak of a S-Bio we mean an ecology which may and can comprise a very rich collection of plants, fungi & animal species all based on some C-Bio together with conscious species that has silicon based minds. As we shall see momentarily such minds have such huge competitive advantages that soon displace any C-Bio minds at least in achieving control of their host societies.

The raw ingredient of computing power is the size & speed of information storage or memory. Accordingly a SM society is at least a million fold more advanced than present humanity. In fact, we have recently reached the terabyte storage capacity level for personal computers. A terabyte is a million of million bytes. That is a 1 TB is a million MB or 10**12 (ten to the twelveth power, I.E. 1 followed by twelve zeros). a SM society, on the other hand, could cram a billion of billion bytes in a space no bigger than a human head. This is 10**18 bytes (that is 1 followed by eighteen zeros). To put this in perspective a million fold increase in storage size corresponds to the change that occurred in computer technology from the 1950's to the present. Another million fold increase would be much harder to accomplish & would have much more dramatic impact on the abilities of the resultant information processing systems.

While storage size (& speed) is a necessary prerequisite to the aggressive expansion of information processing systems, it is not, by itself, sufficient. The other key ingredient is the availability of very advanced software development tools. In this respect SM societies could indeed be way ahead of our present development.

The best way to give an idea of what could be done is to read a note regarding Object Oriented Programming (OOP). The first half of this note gives a simple explanation of the principles behind OOP. It is important to understand these simple principles in order to understand the remainder of this page. A more exhaustive erudite, although not very insightful, reference can be found at: Wikipedia OOP

In other words, an OOP object is a machine which posses its own state (data structure {DS}) and its associated algorithms which specify how specific inputs are transformed into specific outputs. The outputs can be a variety of either displays or physical actions such as lifting an arm or moving a leg. These modular machines represent conceptual abstractions of reality's components. In our present state of development human designers design the DS & the algorithms of such abstractions. In other words, in the case of C-Bio minds, they remain dominant over such collections of abstractions, no matter how rich and complex they are.

In the case of SM technology one would have progressed to the point that SM minds are, at the same time, collector of such silicon/software implemented abstractions and generators of new class hierarchies, new abstractions and fine tuning existent abstractions as result of life experiences. SM will also benefit from the already mentioned million fold increase of storage capacity & density and from much greater processing parallelism. In our computer technology we are presently able to manufacture personal computers with a few processing units (PUs) and megacomputers with a few thousand PUs. The highest number of PUs lashed together to serve as a coordinated system is that assembled by Google which reaches in the hundreds of thousand PUs. SM technology could put together millions of PUs in the volume of a human head.

A different perspective about all this is that we have achieved a very fast method for evolving the class diagram, also known as the Object Oriented Data Base: OODB Schema. Such evolution or learning is millions of time faster than ordinary evolution of the biological generation graph, the BioPert.

A key advantage of SM minds is that they can be uploaded & downloaded much in the manner that we do with computer memories. This means that any form of training can be done inexpensively & rapidly by making libraries of abstractions available in suitable magnetic or optical media for uploading. In turn, the teaching material is generated by asking one or more experts in the desired area to download their expertise. That is, the corresponding libraries of abstractions. This also means that two or more persons in SM society can readily share experiences by simply transferring the appropriate collections of abstractions. Once an individual has acquired these new experiences they would feel as real as those evolved in response to an actual experience.

Persons with highly developed minds and, in particular, special expertises would consequently be highly regarded in SM society as a source of invaluable insights and wisdom. In other words, teachers, scientists, artists, etc. would be at the top of SM society. It is likely that the minds of such exceptional individuals will survive, at least in part, as segments of the minds of many other people. SM minds could also survive a long time in their original substrate (body) since they would not perish for centuries. But even in the event of a substrate dying off it would be possible to transfer all the mind contents to a spanking new substrate and the person consciousness will continue on.

You may be wondering, at this point, about the nature of SM bodies. SM bodies are very advanced machines which should be called substrates, the body energy source is electricity. SMs, therefore, do not need any food, SMs just plug in, from time to time, in an electrical outlet & recharge. The body could include advanced batteries which can be fully charged in a couple of hours & provide all the energy SMs require for a week of active life. SMs'"bodies" do not need to excrete either solid or liquid waste so SMs should not have any such organs. SMs also do not need the sexual mode of reproduction so they should not have those organs either. SMs should be able to build their bodies so that they can outwardly resemble any life form, C-Bio or S-Bio, whatever. For example, they could have perfect human being simulations so that superficially they could look & feel like real humans, beautiful ones at that. However, the simulation would be revealed if one stabs or shoots such bodies since they would not bleed and almost always would survive such attacks. Finally while SMs' arms & legs are largely for locomotion and physical interaction with the environment, the trunk would be essentially devoid of internal organs such as lungs, heart, liver, kidneys, stomach, intestine, etc.. so there would be plenty of room for cables. battery packs, and various types of storage. In other words you may say that SMs' mind pervades not just the head, but also most of the body's trunk.

Copyright 2009