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Journal of Artificial General Intelligence

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The Prospects of Whole Brain Emulation within the next Half- Century

Daniel Eth
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Materials Science and Engineering Stanford University Stanford, CA, 94305, USA
  • Email:
/ Juan-Carlos Foust
  • Department of Computer Science Stanford University Stanford, CA 94305, USA
  • Email:
/ Brandon Whale
  • Department of Science, Technology, and Society Stanford University Stanford, CA, 94305, USA
  • Email:
Published Online: 2014-04-25 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/jagi-2013-0008


Whole Brain Emulation (WBE), the theoretical technology of modeling a human brain in its entirety on a computer-thoughts, feelings, memories, and skills intact-is a staple of science fiction. Recently, proponents of WBE have suggested that it will be realized in the next few decades. In this paper, we investigate the plausibility of WBE being developed in the next 50 years (by 2063). We identify four essential requisite technologies: scanning the brain, translating the scan into a model, running the model on a computer, and simulating an environment and body. Additionally, we consider the cultural and social effects of WBE. We find the two most uncertain factors for WBE’s future to be the development of advanced miniscule probes that can amass neural data in vivo and the degree to which the culture surrounding WBE becomes cooperative or competitive. We identify four plausible scenarios from these uncertainties and suggest the most likely scenario to be one in which WBE is realized, and the technology is used for moderately cooperative ends

Keywords: Brain Activity Mapping; Scalable Neuroscience; Mind Uploading; Technological Forecasts; Substrate Independent Minds; Whole Brain Emulation; 2063


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About the article

Received: 2013-07-31

Accepted: 2013-12-31

Published Online: 2014-04-25

Published in Print: 2013-12-01

Citation Information: Journal of Artificial General Intelligence, ISSN (Online) 1946-0163, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/jagi-2013-0008. Export Citation

© by Daniel Eth. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License, which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

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