Hardware comes in two forms, basically: immutable, such as RAM, and mutable, such as FPGAs.

In animals, neurological connections gain in strength by changing the physical structure of the brain. This is analogous to FPGAs whereby signal strength is increased by changing the pathways themselves.

If we achieve sentience using mutable hardware (e.g., neuromemristive systems), will it be possible to make a copy of that "brain" and its active state?

For this question, assume that the brain is how the hardware has "reconfigured" [or etched, if you will] its pathways to strengthen them and the brain's state is captured by how electrons are physically flowing throughout those pathways.

  • $\begingroup$ So basically, "hardware" with the capability of "software" (i.e. it can be altered.) Not sure how this would be any different from modeling it with software. Nanoscale mechanical computing is quite interesting, but a program is a program, regardless of the medium on which it runs... Universal Turning Machine and so forth. Are you asking about creating a physical replica of an organic brain, complete with all of the organic brain's information? $\endgroup$ – DukeZhou Jan 19 '17 at 21:21
  • $\begingroup$ No, I'm thinking about replicating an inorganic brain into another inorganic brain and preserving both its pathway structures and state. This is assuming that specialized hardware (i.e., memristors) would also be required, but perhaps that's an incorrect assumption? $\endgroup$ – Dave Jarvis Jan 19 '17 at 21:31
  • $\begingroup$ As I understand it, any computer program, at least using binary, can be reduced to a single, linear string. Thus the computing medium is corollary. Meaningful hardware attributes relate to speed of computation, but not necessarily what is being processed. (Although it is believed Quantum computing will yield better performance for certain type of tasks.) I understand your question better now though! $\endgroup$ – DukeZhou Jan 19 '17 at 21:36

Theoretically, there shouldn't be a problem copying either of the artificial brains in any state.

Difficulty in measuring a state doesn't seem to really be a problem until you get down to the quantum level, where the means of measurement affect the state.

The configuration of the artificial brains, including pathway structures and states, should be reducible to a single string, which could then be used to reconfigure the artificial brain the information is being copied to.

Definitely look into the concept of a Turing Machine and Universal Turing Machine.

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