Why You Won't Be Uploaded
If smarter-than-human AI is developed, some feel this isn't a problem because we will all be able to be "uploaded" by then. Economics suggests that even if the formidable technical challenges to uploading are ever resolved it will still only be a tiny fraction of the population, if any, that gets uploaded.
Cost of uploading
Putting aside the technical challenges for one moment. Let's look at the costs today.
Cost to store a brain representation:
86x109 neurons x 103 distinct connections per neuron (not synapses) x 7 bytes (5 byte neuron id; 1 byte connection strength; 1 byte propagation time delay) = 6x1014 bytes
- Amazon S3 infrequent access storage price (2016): $0.0125/GB-month
- $90k/year to store (today)
Cost to run a brain emulation:
$700/simulated-hour (2016, TrueNorth)
- $6m/simulated-year (today)
Cost to scan a brain for uploading:
Brain volume = 1.2x10-3
Scan resolution: 5nm x 5nm x 25nm (sufficient to resolve synapses) = 1.9x1021 voxels
Current neural scanning technology uses scanning electron microscopes: 1x106 voxels/s (Kasthuri, 2015, Saturated Reconstruction of a Volume of Neocortex)
6x107 years of microscopy
- Cost of electron microscope: $2k/year (Ebay quotes used electron microscopes at $5k-20k; amortize over 5 years)
>$120b to scan (today - ignores electron microscope operating costs, down time, labor, and image segmentation costs)
<$34t to scan (today - includes other unrelated costs; Lichtman lab granted $28m in 2016 to scan 1mm3)
Only one brain might ever be uploaded
Costs of scanning brains, running emulations, and storing emulations will fall as technology progresses, but the very large difference between the cost to scan and to store (currently over a factor of 1 million) is unlikely to be change. This means, if it was possible to upload, once the first brain was uploaded it would be much, much, cheaper to make copies of the first brain and modify them, than it would be to upload additional brains. By the time uploading was affordable for the masses the proliferation of emulations would have made the world an unrecognizable place for humans (in The Age of Em, Hanson estimates any era of emulations will only last for 2-5 years before being replaced by something even more bizarre; and during any such era it seems likely that manipulation of the physical world (scanning) will evolve at a slower rate than manipulation of the virtual world (running emulations), with the cost of storing emulations falling somewhere in between these two rates).
Or none at all
It seems that construction of an emulation based on scanning small pieces of different types of brain tissue to discover general wiring organizational principles is going to have a long head start over scanning a complete brain. Scanning, say, 100 different 1mm3 volumes would reduce the price by a factor of 12,000 to $10m-$3b today. This is quite affordable for a government sponsored research project today. By the time uploading was ever affordable to the general public, the effects of such emulations would have transformed the world irreversibly.