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In this sci-fi world Im building,

Humanity has developed a process to download a person's personality and memories by converting electrical signals produced by Neural firings into binary code and putting the data into either a silicon super-hard drive or a clone body of the deceased person. the Tech has advanced to the point of Explorers and military personnel having small, vertebrate-sized implants mounted at the base of the brainstem that act like high-power transmitters that send minds to cloning pods in about 10 seconds

My question is, how would you scan a brain that fast with that level of detail? I know how the system works, but how would the conversion work?

Second optional question, how could memories be put into a body?

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    $\begingroup$ This was a fundamental plot device of Altered Carbon, though I can't recall if they ever went into detail on how it functioned. I suppose the question is "does the audience really need to know?" $\endgroup$
    – JamieB
    Commented Jan 20, 2023 at 20:23
  • $\begingroup$ @JamieB inspired by Altered Carbon, however, In Altered carbon the implants are like an external drive while my implants are more like cloud storage. it's more of a "fun lore thing for those who want to dive deeper into it" kinda thing $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 20, 2023 at 20:27
  • $\begingroup$ You appear to have answered your own question. How will they do it? They'll use the small, vertebrate-sized implants as high-powered transmitters to send the "neural firings" to cloning pods (or the cloud, or wherever). $\endgroup$
    – Tom
    Commented Jan 20, 2023 at 20:32
  • $\begingroup$ @Tom Yes, but how would the scanners work? that's the question I'm asking $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 20, 2023 at 20:35

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Incrementally.

A complete deep-personality scan takes time, of course. It's not just a matter of scanning but artificially stimulating memories and emotional states so you can capture every nuance of what makes someone tick. But how much does your personality really change day to day? Hour to hour? Minute to minute?

To provide both deep reconstruction and near-real-time backups, your system incorporates several tiers of speed and fidelity.

Every once in awhile - maybe once a year, maybe more often if you're in a dangerous profession - you have a complete scan of your personality done, over the course of a few hours, in a clinic, with a trained staff.

More often - maybe every day, as you sleep - less in-depth scans are made to capture any changes that have happened since your last complete scan. The devices used for this scan are bigger, not wearable, but they fit by your bed or in your living space.

Finally, the implant in your head is responsible for capturing moment-to-moment changes, focusing on memories. By restricting the duration (since your last daily update) and scope of its work, it can provide acceptably good results with a minimum of intrusive hardware.

So, if something unfortunate happens to your current body, what the transmitter sends to the cloning pod is only a report on the last few hours of your life, focusing on your immediate experiences. This is combined with your last deep scan and each day's incremental scans to rebuild your complete personality.

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You dont.

The brain doesnt store its data in just electrical signals, it stores it in the way every nerve is connected to one another and how they talk to one another at any one point. What also matters is the electrical signals themselves, as some memories or skills or whatever are stored as feedback loops in the brain that keep sending a specific set of signals between one another over and over again until the feedbackloop is accessed by smell, touch, taste or whatever. And even just the current state of mind influences how the brain works, a sad person is more likely to get sad memories to surface for example.

The point is: you dont just store the brain, you need to store every single neuron and all their connections down to the length of the neurons to adequately store not just pure memory data but also the entire personality and reactive capabilities of that person. Even the distance neurons are away from one another can change the way you perceive things as neurons can create cross-talking interference when they fire off their electric signals causing other neurons to sometimes also fire by accident (one reason feet can be so erotic to some is that their sensory position in the brain is so close to the genital area senses causing cross-talk).

So if you want to scan this you need something that can scan every single neuron individually with every single connection they made and their relative positions as well as every sequence of electrical signals traveling through them over time rather than at that moment simultaneously to properly copy that person’s memory and personality intact, and no you cannot separate them that would be like creating video’s where each color and each sound are stored separately and have no identifying markers to tell if they belong together and where they belong together.

And despite this being an answer, I havent got the faintest if this will ever be possible. You’ll have to just say it can scan it completely or as others have already done (like the already mentioned altered carbon) just blow past it and say that it can. Who’s going to argue?

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Different brain imaging modalities have different spatial and temporal resolutions.

A neuron can be as small as four micrometers, so that's the voxel-size you would need.

You would need to take an image about every 0.5 milliseconds; that's the temporal resolution you would need.

No imaging technology comes close to this now, but one can imagine spatial and temporal resolution getting much much better (like with Moore's Law).

Most realistically, you would probably use multiple modalities and combine their inputs using AI.

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  • $\begingroup$ Volume of human brain: 1,274 cu³. So, a very simple physical map of neurons at micrometer resolution might be only 1.59 MB in size. And a one-second replay sampled every 0.5ms would be about 3.2 GB (raw data, without compression or shorthand). This should be easily doable with current computing. The bigger challenge is measuring the terrain. $\endgroup$
    – Tom
    Commented Jan 20, 2023 at 22:25
  • $\begingroup$ Your numbers are wrong. 1 cubic centimeter sampled at a resolution of 1 µm yields 10,000³ = 1E12 samples. One thousand cubic centimeters yield 1E15 samples; at 1 byte/sample that's one thousand terabytes. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Jan 21, 2023 at 10:50
  • $\begingroup$ Please note that those things which are a few microns across are the cellular bodies of the neurons. But that's not the interesting part. The interesting part are the interconnects, which are very much thinner; dendrites have a diameter of about 0.2 µm on the average, and some are thinner than that. You need to scan at a spatial resolution of 50 nm or better. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Jan 21, 2023 at 11:01

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