Is Brain Emulation Dangerous?

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Is Brain Emulation Dangerous? 

Brain emulation is a hypothetical but extremely transformative technology which has a non zero chance of appearing during the next century. This paper investigates  whether  such  a  technology would  also  have  any  predictable  characteristics  that  give  it  a  chance  of  being  catastrophically dangerous, and whether there are any policy levers which might be used to make it safer.

It concludes¬† that¬† the¬† riskiness¬† of¬† brain¬† emulation¬† probably¬† depends¬† on¬† the¬† order¬† of¬† the preceding¬† research¬† trajectory.¬† ¬† Broadly¬† speaking,¬† it¬† appears¬† safer¬† for¬† brain¬† emulation¬† to¬† happen sooner, because slower CPUs would make the technology‚Äės impact more gradual.¬† It may also be safer¬† if¬† brains¬† are¬† scanned¬† before¬† they¬† are¬† fully¬† understood¬† from¬† a¬† neuroscience¬† perspective, thereby¬† increasing¬† the¬† initial¬† population¬† of¬† emulations,¬† although¬† this¬† prediction¬† is¬† weaker¬† and more scenario-dependent.

The risks posed by brain emulation also seem strongly connected to questions about the balance of power between attackers and defenders in computer security contests. If economic property rights in  CPU  cycles are  essentially  enforceable,  emulation  appears  to  be  comparatively  safe;  if  CPU cycles  are  ultimately  easy  to  steal,  the  appearance  of  brain  emulation is  more  likely  to  be  a destabilizing development for human geopolitics.


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