, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 431–436 | Cite as

On the irrationality of mind-uploading: a rely to Neil Levy

  • Nicholas AgarEmail author
Original Article


In a paper in this journal, Neil Levy challenges Nicholas Agar’s argument for the irrationality of mind-uploading. Mind-uploading is a futuristic process that involves scanning brains and recording relevant information which is then transferred into a computer. Its advocates suppose that mind-uploading transfers both human minds and identities from biological brains into computers. According to Agar’s original argument, mind-uploading is prudentially irrational. Success relies on the soundness of the program of Strong AI—the view that it may someday be possible to build a computer that is capable of thought. Strong AI may in fact be false, an eventuality with dire consequences for mind-uploading. Levy argues that Agar’s argument relies on mistakes about the probability of failed mind-uploading and underestimates what is to be gained from successfully mind-uploading. This paper clarifies Agar’s original claims about the likelihood of mind-uploading failure and offers further defense of a pessimistic evaluation of success.


Mind-uploading Strong AI Pascal’s Wager 



I am grateful to Neil Levy and Mark Walker for very helpful discussion of this paper.


  1. Agar N (2010) Humanity’s end: why we should reject radical enhancement. The MIT Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. De Grey A, Rae M (2007) Ending aging: the rejuvenation breakthroughs that could reverse human aging in our lifetime. St Martin’s Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. Hajek A (2008) Pascal’s wager. Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy.
  4. Kurzweil R (2005) The singularity is near: when humans transcend biology. Penguin, LondonGoogle Scholar
  5. Levy N (2011) Searle’s wager. AI & Soc 26:363–369CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Nussbaum M (1992) Love’s knowledge: essays on philosophy and literature. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  7. Olson E (1997) The human animal: personal identity without psychology. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  8. Pascal B (1995) Pensees. Translated by A.J. Krailsheimer. New York, PenguinGoogle Scholar
  9. Sandberg A, Bostrom A (2008) Whole brain emulation: a roadmap. Technical Report #2008‐3. Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford University.
  10. Searle J (1980) Minds, brains and programs. Behav Brain Sci 3(3):417–457CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy ProgrammeVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations