Once the brain is in an artificial form, it will be much easier to modify
it. Assuming a good understanding of our neural circuitry, a number of
enhancements and deletions will be possible. These will strain the
definition of "human."
At a minimum, it is probably best to prohibit modifying other people's
brains without their fully informed consent. It may also be worthwhile to
restrict certain types of modifications. Some of the changes which have
been discussed follow.
Brain enhancements include added or extended
senses (e.g., seeing ultraviolet light); increased working memory
capacity; mental calculator or database; language modules, which allow you
to speak and understand many languages; and telepathy. Some people may
want to go further and more fully integrate their minds with computers,
changing their very thought processes.
Some people may want to remove instincts which are no longer "needed."
These could include food, sex, anger/violence, fear, and so on. Some may
even try to remove all emotion. Although it may (or may not) be true that
these no longer serve a logical purpose in an uploaded person, they are
certainly an integral part of what we now understand "humanity" to be.
If mechanisms of human memory are well understood, it may be
possible to manipulate our memories almost as easily as we manipulate disk
files. This includes procedural memory -- for example, the ability to
drive a car -- and episodic memory, such as your skiing trip last
December. Memories could be deleted, added, or swapped between persons.
(Note that this complicates the personal
identity issue even further, but not beyond what fuzzy logic can
handle: if I take some of Jane's memories, then I become a little
bit Jane, but still mostly me.)
Like the other mind alterations, these are powerful tools which need to be
used very carefully.
A spin-off of memory technology would be a device which can search a
person's memories for knowledge related to a specific event. This could
be use to establish guilt or innocence of a crime, for example. However,
if there are memory-altering techniques as well, then mind probing would
no longer be conclusive. Also, mind probing has frequently been treated
in discussion as an invasion of privacy -- or is it just a sophisticated
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