28 Jan 2009

Nick Bostrom & Anders Sandberg: Whole Brain Emulation (WBE) (Mental Uploading / Mental Downloading) Part 1, Section 5, "Simulation Scales&quo

by Corry Shores
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[My more developed Deleuzean critique of mental uploading can be found here. The following summarizes Nick Bostrom's & Anders Sandberg's new study on whole brain emulation. My commentary is in brackets.]

Nick Bostrom & Anders Sandberg
"Whole Brain Emulation: A Roadmap"

Part I: The Concept of Brain Emulation

Section V: "Simulation Scales"

Previously we discussed the need to pick one level of scale to simulate in the brain. The level we select should automatically simulate all those levels below it. As well it should bring about all the levels above it, all the way to consciousness and intelligence. Now Bostrom & Sandberg will specify the possible ways of differentiating the levels of scale.

He first shows Churchland's and Sejnowski's diagram of neurological scale sizes.

They then list the possible levels of simulation, starting from the lowest:
1) Molecular simulation
2) Chemical simulation
3) Genetic expression simulation
4) Subcellular simulation
5) Whole cellular (neuronal) simulation
6) Local neural network simulation
7) Neural system simulation

The workings of the lower levels usually are based on simpler principles. The problem however is the quantity of workings on these lower levels requires a high degree of computing power. However, at the higher levels of simulation, less computing power is required, yet we need to have more sophisticated knowledge of very complex brain processes.
Low‐level simulations require massive quantities of simple information (molecular positions and types) whereas higher levels require a smaller amount of very complex information (content of mental processes).

Another complication is that each level of size scale has its own different time scale.

Most probably, the emulation will need at least to simulate chemical and electrical activities on the level of neuronal synapses.

Sandberg, A. & Bostrom, N. (2008): Whole Brain Emulation: A Roadmap, Technical Report #2008‐3, Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford University.
Available online at:

Nick Bostrom's page, with other publications:

Anders Sandberg's page, also with other publications:

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