October 31, 2006

Simon Funk's "After Life"

Sci-Fi author Simon Funk has released an excellent short story that he has made available for free over the Internet. The story is called "After Life" and deals with the issue of consciousness uploads.

I'm writing this now as I'm not sure what I'll remember tomorrow. Hell, I'm not even sure I'm writing this now. Yesterday when I woke up...

Well, let me back up a little. I don't know who will ever read this, so I should explain. I--we, the people I work with, study the brain. Right now we are working on something pretty neat, but also scary. We want to map a brain, functionally, down to the individual neuron. The trouble is, until now there's been no way to do this without killing the brain's owner.

But we've been able to do it--with a rat, and a cat. We don't really know if it worked with the cat, but we are currently running a simulation of the rat's brain and it appears to be exhibiting strikingly rat-like behavior. I.e. fucking amazing. Top secret. Even writing this down on something outside of company premises I'm sure violates a dozen clauses in my contract, but...let me move forward.

This is basically my project. I'm the one who's had the faith in it from the start, the drive to push it forward, and the ingenuity to make it work. But I feel I've been fighting bureaucracies the whole way, from trying to get money from people who could never understand what it's for to trying to get permission from people who could never understand why they should give it. We want to scan a monkey next. I think we'll be employing lawyers and public relations people for years to get that one to fly.

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