Well before we understand how brains work, we may find ourselves able to digitally copy the brain's structure and able to download the conscious mind into a computer. What are the possibilities and challenges?
To the extent that consciousness is useful, it is useful in small quantities, and for very particular kinds of tasks. It's easy to understand why you would not want to be consciously aware of the intricacies of your muscle movement, but this can be less intuitive when applied to your perceptions, thoughts, and beliefs, which are also final products of the activity of billions of nerve cells.
In the wake of the Aurora movie theater shooting, many people had the same questions: What kind of derangement is indicated by the horrific acts of James Holmes? What is wrong with his brain? How will his mental state play out in the courts?
Eagleman and Brian Eno bring Sum to Sydney Opera House
In June, 2009, David Eagleman collaborated with musician/producer Brian Eno to perform a musical reading of Sum to 1,000 people at the Sydney Opera House. In May of 2010 they performed together again to 1,200 people at the Brighton Dome in England. Stay tuned for further performances.
Sum on Radiolab
Listen to David discussing Sum -- and actor Jeffrey Tambor reading stories from the book -- on WNYC's Radiolab.