1) Awareness is fungible
Those expecting to die before 2050 may have a chance at a partial afterlife.
Any system offering even a remote escape possibility should attract adherents. The better the promise, the more adherents.
For good or bad, existing religions may have to be discredited first, as they make much better promises than any rational afterlife proposal.
Then, it comes down to the deceased Mind Backup customer’s willingness to create and leave behind an enormous trove of data to reconstruct their history and personality.
They will have filled a digital box with life stories, random data, and personality and memory tests.
This will slowly be sorted by whatever reconstruction software becomes available. Sorting this data will take more computations than the lifetime total of the brain that generated it. Only a sophisticated AI could do it.
The key insight is that mind reconstruction does not have to be fast.
There is no rush whatsoever, as long as no data is lost. The subject has all the time there is. Once all the data has been assembled, it doesn’t matter if it takes virtual centuries to make all the connections.
It doesn’t have to be an efficient or intensive process either. The awareness resulting from slow and inefficiently processed data will be just as real, even if we can’t interact with it.
In fact the reconstructed mind will emerge as a side effect of the process.
Its awareness and perception of time will be imposed externally, like a character in a novel. Different scenes will be created separately, and later fleshed out with perception details.
Single thoughts will slowly be made deeper and more detailed, linking to all kinds of memories.
What matters is the number of connections, not the order in which they are created.
Awareness may even emerge from an encyclopedic sorting process.
In fact a postmortem mind reconstruction does not have to be an exact or even approximate copy of the original to be its legitimate continuation.
The reconstruction could represent the average mind state over a lifetime. It could be true to itself even if it was mostly made up of reconstructed false memories to fill the gaps.
The most important requirement is obvious, and it suggests new testing methods:
A reconstructed mind should accurately predict how the original mind would have reacted to any situation.
Early mind reconstructions will have limited or no free will, though they won’t notice.
In fact we may only need to simulate a few ideal moments of a mind reconstruction – or even a single moment – but with a full set of memories and future plans.
2) Monumental moments
Mind-backup clients of the future will be encouraged to create tableaux of key scenes of their lives.
These virtual descriptions will be highly detailed in a few ways. Only essential perceptions and feelings need to be described, both their best and their most common days, specific and generic scenes.
The tableaux don’t have to be meaningful. This is a literary skill. The outline could be done very fast, but hundreds of them will eventually have to be completed.
It would begin with a few specific recreations. Floating cork-like in the surf off the beach, pedaling at sunset along a busy highway, lounging vegetable-like for years before entertainment boxes. Rooms and streets, fields and towns.
Then one true moment. What would it be? Maybe when operating at peak efficiency and the most connections, times of maximum influence or expectation. Or start with this moment right now.
They might even choose to compose situations that never happened but represent deep personal truths, even dreamlike or event horizon type situations. The tableaux could combine many life elements in one setting.
3) Mind extensions
It will of course take years to build such monuments.
Digital resurrection (or call it software mind continuation) should start as early as possible during the lifetime of the subject, with a self-improving mind extension.
It must be easy to begin, a simple but powerful way to record and store life data, complexity emerging as connections multiply. Early versions will mostly appeal to programmer-type personalities.
Data acquisition should become part of daily life, assembling long lists of memory factoids with associated tags (what when where why who).
So what’s the most powerful way to extract and organize your knowledge?
The memory map will start as an outline to be filled in.
Like life itself, it can never be completed, but any interesting perception and perspective could be added. It may involve the smallest units of awareness, some type of self-referential descriptions that might as well combine into a mind.
Solve this problem and every human problem may become solvable.
4) Example of a further mind scanning method
Stimulate small brain regions with focused radio waves or magnetically induced currents, and measure the resulting electrical activity in all other brain regions.
Combine this data with the best available personality tests, and the test results of many other subjects, to find correlations between measured brain activity and personality traits.
Eventually this may be done rapidly and precisely, and perhaps also reversed to create vivid interactive perceptions in the subject.
Estimated cost to develop this technique: somewhere between a mission to Mars and building the Gibraltar Dam.