A human mind is immense. We’re talking millions of gigabytes. Because of bandwidth bottlenecks, mental states change rather slowly across the brain, though these states respond rapidly to the events they have evolved to handle.
A human lifetime is far too short to fully scan a mind’s contents, but not its structure. We’ll probably never download perceptions directly like in the movie ‘Strange Days’.
Fortunately, we don’t have to measure the mind’s awareness. All we have to do is measure the mind’s awareness of its awareness. Basically, the virtual brain within the real brain, a.k.a. the “soul”.
This will be the ultimate personality test. Beliefs, preferences and emotional ranges are different for everyone, a small fraction of memory-like states that control all the rest. They can predict how someone would feel and think about any situation.
The most interesting software of the not-too-distant future will make it its mission to measure these personal attributes.
Hopefully sometime before the 2030s, your first personal software assistant will become your preliminary mind extension. It will require a conceptual leap greater than a spiritual awakening, but not obviously impossible. This hypothetical software would identify, define, and track all its owners’ interests and sensibilities.
It would start as an automatic content aggregator, looking up and sorting meaningful data. First, the owner will define their lifetime interests, and all their random but meaningful events. It may seem narcissistic, but that may be the only meaning there is.
The software will also search the Net for relevant content the user would otherwise have missed. The harder part will be summarizing all this data.
Different users’ mind extensions will form online interest groups, and individual users may become experts in countless new sub-fields, like initial neurons in a World Mind.
Minds are vast, but that doesn’t have to make them complex, even if the strongest emotions are totally overwhelming.
Awareness is the deepest insight of ignorance, the vertigo of the lost past. The 1990s now seem as quaintly archaic as the 1970s did in the 1990s. The early 1980s had something called Teletext, which seemed almost as interesting as the Net does now. You could enter any of 999 page numbers on a suitable TV set, leading to short news stories displayed in phosphorescent text against a black background like an infinite resource.
Once someone starts recording the important elements of their life, an overview of the top level may emerge. The clutter can be sorted into hierarchies or added to a giant warehouse.
Human existence will have to yield to infinitely patient and methodical software. At first the subject’s life will be forced into a series of predetermined boxes like haikus. The ultimate goal of this project is very simple: to capture all the elements of nostalgia in a flowchart.
The process will change you. The final step of a mind backup attempt may be to manipulate the subject into becoming their ideal self.
It could happen in a VR environment, where an extremely intelligent AI therapist would hone in on their core personality. The only way to fully understand a human mind would be through an exponentially larger and smarter (though highly specialized) artificial mind. While incredibly complex, its creation would not necessarily be incredibly difficult.
This process will continue to its logical conclusion. Several levels above the smartest search engine, the creation of the World Mind will require prolonged exposure to the words and deeds of millions of distinct individuals, with or without their conscious assistance.