If you cloned a human being, atom for atom, you would almost certainly find that you've created a new entity, with its own consciousness, and memory of having been previously conscious. Assuming the clone hadn't been informed otherwise, it would believe it has existed and been conscious since birth.

If the above is correct, could we therefore come to the conclusion that when consciousness resumes after an interruption (sleep, etc), a new consciousness is formed which also suffers under the illusion of having existed since birth.

Assuming this is all true, would there be any point in mind-uploading, where you could theoretically upload the contents and consciousness of a human to a machine (or gradually replace individual neurons until there is no biological matter)? What would be the distinction between this, and simply making an atomic clone as described above, as both entities would ultimately be under the same illusion of consciousness?

To frame the question in another way, should anyone interested in an indefinite or infinite life-span be interested in mind-uploading? Can it be of any use to the current "you"?

  • You should define what "a consciousness" is here. I think you'll find it's not trivially easy.
    – Chelonian
    Mar 15, 2018 at 14:13
  • I read an article about this. I keep thinking about it and I have asked if it would be considered for my peers and most of them said yes. They can live forever... But I am shocked by the notion because nobody will live forever this way as the person will die and the memories will live on in the computers. Well to the family and friends I suppose they may get some gratification if they believe that the person is with them but in doubt that is healthy? Grief is horrible and I would do anything to see my mum again for even a few minutes but it is sadly nature. nature, nurture and computer technol
    – kell kell
    Apr 28, 2018 at 23:09
  • 1
    What article did you read? Did it express similar views? I find answers that point me somewhere to be valuable. That would require a specific reference or a link--perhaps more than one. Apr 29, 2018 at 0:01
  • The problem is that if you know you have will be creating clone before you started do it, it will be aware of existence of clone as well. The only thing is that both you and clone will feel themselves original ones. Mind uploading is seen as potential solution for life extension. I see that original mind must be stopped (euthanasia) for it to work.
    – rus9384
    Apr 29, 2018 at 0:02

2 Answers 2


An 'atomic clone' would be an 'upload'. Capturing the state of every atom, and setting such an assembly into that same motion though, is unlikely to ever be possible. It is a far bigger challenge than neccessary, when we have nano-scale micro-assembly structures already, called cells. We can recreate from a biological template, grow a body, rather than atom by atom.

There are many questions about consciousness. We broadly assume that the new consciousness, given the old persons memories, would have continuity. Given cloned biology developed down the same pathway into an adult, limbic system & so on, we would expect at least very similar behaviour. There would be no technological reason against running several copies in addition to the original, for comparison.

Extropianism is a philosophical framework for viewing this.

  • You may expect similar behaviour between clones, but surely they wouldn't share a consciousness. Is the "me" today the same consciousness as the "me" yesterday?
    – M-R
    Mar 13, 2018 at 23:10
  • To re-phrase the original question: If I wanted to live forever (hopefully I never will) would there be any benefit to gradually replacing my cells with mechanical components (so as not to disrupt consciousness continuity) rather than just creating a clone (and discarding the original). I say "benefit" in regards to "me" at this current moment in time.
    – M-R
    Mar 13, 2018 at 23:14
  • Continuity is only ever the sense of continuity. We don't know enough to answer, but it's very likely we wouldn't be able to capture everything happening in a brain, on all the different time scales of storage. It might be like being an alzheimer's patient with access to some bits not others. Actual continuity of experience through the transition would help ease the perception of continuity, but whether it actually helps create it would be a matter of technology, the nature consciousness turns out to have, and definitions. I hope we get to find out!
    – CriglCragl
    Mar 14, 2018 at 0:58
  • Do you not find all this rather depressing? It's as if to say that anything I achieve or do now, in this moment, is simply preparing an experience for a future consciousness (next moment of consciousness after an interruption). In other words, my current sense of self is not continuous.
    – M-R
    Mar 14, 2018 at 17:38
  • No, I think it's fascinating. You could picture it positively e.g. youtu.be/RsdoJ9x8IBs
    – CriglCragl
    Mar 14, 2018 at 19:26

Yes there is a point.

If we consider that the future of the solar system includes the expansion of the sun to a red giant, enveloping the orbit of planet earth, followed by collapse into a white dwarf, then the possibility of uploading consciousness into something that can survive in outer space, not suffer ageing and is able to travel the cosmos for a few hundred million years is quite appealing.

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