I'd like to develop a baseline of information for pondering this topic:


I assume that "consciousness" is a definite, precisely-knowable phenomenon.

[I recognize that at present we have a very limited grasp of "consciousness", one that does not manifest within any current molecular/mass or other energy model.]

I assume that "consciousness" is not entirely a "spiritual" phenomenon; that is, the phenomenon in question is comprehensible and knowable within a scientific framework.

The Question

I would argue that these two profound (i.e., blatant) assumptions make for a perfect springboard to develop a hypothetical means of transporting or projecting consciousness, using light as the carrier.

If it is loosely accepted that consciousness might have electrical and magnetic properties, as a phenomenon principally resident in the human brain, might it be theoretically possible to interpret this phenomenon as akin to light?

On this basis, could light (photons or what have you) be fashioned as a temporary carrier bond to our consciousness?

Note: all variations of logic and assumptions are fair play. Unless you have the actual solution, of course!


The correlation of this question's premise to a WB context is related to a likely need for us to extend our awareness, thus knowledge, of distant, and currently unreachable, locations in the universe; to ideally port information in both directions, depending on what we find.

For example, I think it's accurate to say that any solution for transporting mass (e.g. humans) to currently unthinkable distances in a timely manner, is realistically "far off." Consequently, consider what might be the possibility of achieving what is, arguably, the primary goal of obtaining the ability to solve the problem I've described, which would be to observe and learn. (I'm ranking the manipulation of objects as a secondary objective when compared to my primary ranking.)

Analysis of Responses:<\b>

I can see how there is no actual objective solution given our current capabilities. Following the suggestion that also makes sense to me, my grading criteria would be based on answers which rely on extrapolating what we currently know, and in a direction that is, arguably, likely to be pursued, at some point in time. I'm defining "arguably" as the general acknowledgement that mankind will pursue ideas that have either promising benefits and/or offer a better understanding of ourselves and the universe(s).

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    $\begingroup$ I find it unacceptable that so many have voted this "off-topic" and yet no one has written a comment to explain why, much less made suggestions to the author as to how the question might be re-framed. I have voted for its reopening on this basis -- and because, so far as I see, it's a perfectly legitimate question. $\endgroup$
    – CAgrippa
    Mar 15, 2016 at 17:28
  • $\begingroup$ I'm going to attempt some edits on this question, mostly for grammar and syntax. Please examine the results to be sure I've represented your meaning accurately. $\endgroup$
    – CAgrippa
    Mar 15, 2016 at 17:40
  • $\begingroup$ I'm a little unclear on what the question is. If we assume a materialistic view of the mind, and further lump in the capacity to "precisely" define it, i.e. reduce it to information, the conclusion kinda follows, no? $\endgroup$ Mar 15, 2016 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ @CAgrippa I thought about voting to close this (but didn't) because I didn't see a WB aspect to this. It seems more like the thesis of a research paper or the hypothesis of a scientific inquiry than a question about building a world. $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Mar 15, 2016 at 18:11
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    $\begingroup$ @PjkDaaDude, your question makes sense (to me) and is an interesting one. However, I think its main fault is any answers would need to be purely speculation. This means there is no objective "right answer" to your question and this site doesn't like that sort of question. If you want to read people's speculations, edit your question to include your answer "grading" criteria. That might be a sufficient change to reopen the question. $\endgroup$
    – Jim2B
    Mar 15, 2016 at 18:18

2 Answers 2


Assuming a materialist view of the mind, i.e. that brain equals mind, and there is no such thing as a soul: I'd think the answer would be obviously "yes", at least in principle. You could do something like an MRI scan of a person's brain, determine the exact position of every cell, exact parameters of every electrical charge, etc. Then code this information like you were going to store it on a computer. Again, in principle, we could have a giant table: cell with this chemical contents at this location, electrical charge of this voltage at this point, etc. Once the information is on the computer, you code it into bits (or rather, at that points it's already coded into bits), and you send it by radio or laser. Then reconstruct it at the other end from this data.

I note that it wouldn't be necessary to fully understand how the brain works to do this, it would just be necessary to be able to accurately identify all it's components. Like today, I can store a recording of someone playing the piano on my computer. I don't have to know which keys caused which sounds, or even which bits represent any given note. I just need a mechanism to convert sounds to bits and back again.

Of course there's a big gap between "theoretically possible in principle" and "we'll start building the machine tomorrow".

Assuming a non-materialist view: More iffy. What is the nature of the mind? What is the nature of the soul? If someday we developed technology to detect and measure a soul, then we're back to scenario 1. If that sounds crazy, I don't think it's any crazier than the idea of detecting and measuring electrical impulses in muscles would have seemed to someone in AD 1600. Maybe the soul is simply a form of energy that we presently don't understand, or something of that sort. Or, what if we could catalog every memory that a person has, every emotion, every thought, etc. and record it. If it could be recorded on a computer, it could be transmitted electronically or optically.

I'm tempted to say that even under vitalist assumptions it would be theoretically possible. I don't claim to have any idea how to go about it with present technology.

  • $\begingroup$ That's a great answer and made perfect sense. (Your approach, imho, could hardly be topped given our current technological understandings and implementations.) I followed your logic and situational comparisons which made for a very good read. Excellent, so thanks. $\endgroup$
    – PjkDaaDude
    Mar 14, 2016 at 6:32
  • $\begingroup$ @PjkDaaDude - If you're interested in reading more about ideas along these lines, this sort of idea often goes under the name of "mind uploading", see the wikipedia article here along with the mind uploading in fiction article. $\endgroup$
    – Hypnosifl
    Mar 15, 2016 at 21:16

Look at the Ghost In The Shell franchise

Summary: Can the case be made? Yes, Ghost In The Shell does it all the time.

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The premise of Ghost In The Shell is that human brains can be "cyberized". Simply put all your neurons are jacketed with artificial materials that interact with the neurons; your brain becomes biological matter fused with a computer.

The titular "ghost" is anything and everything that makes you be... well... you. It is all your memories, your consciousness, your instincts. One way to put it would be that the "ghost" could be considered the "soul" of a person, but without the spiritualistic connotations of the latter word.

With this cyberization, the contents of the neurons can be both read and written. Hence, within the Ghost In The Shell universe, "ghosts" can be transferred, edited ("Ghost-hacks") and even fused with other "ghosts" to form a singular unit.

How this matters for your question

Anything that can be read can be fixed onto a tangible medium. Anything that can be fixed onto a tangible medium, can be transferred over a data-stream. Light — as we know — can carry data.

So the answer to your question is: yes, consciousness can be transported via light.


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