Neuroscientist Discusses the Idea of Consciousness Transfer From the New Movie Self/less


A new thriller starring Ben Kingsley and Ryan Reynolds explores the idea of transferring consciousness from one body to another. Unlike Freaky Friday, or the myriad of other family movies and comedies that have explored the idea, this one actually explores the science of the process.

In the movie Self/less, a rich business man (Kingsley) is dying of cancer. However, he is able to prolong his “self” by transferring his consciousness from one body to another using a medical procedure called “shedding.”

You may be wondering how such a far-out concept can actually have any science to it. I wondered the same thing, so I asked a neuroscientist what he thought.

I spoke with
Ryan Reynolds (in foreground) stars as Young Damian and Ben Kingsley (in
background) stars as Damian Hale in Gramercy Pictures’ provocative
psychological thriller Self/less, directed by Tarsem Singh and written by Alex
Pastor & David Pastor. Credit: Alan Markfield / Gramercy Pictures

Alejandro Rojas: In what ways do you integrate insect brains with robots?

Dr. Charles Higgins: To put it in a nutshell, since about 1987, I have been interested in trying to understand how it is that brains work, fundamentally, in the same way we understand how computers work. And so, trying to put brains together with robots, I am working on many fronts. One is, I am working with insect brains, attempting to understand how their basic functions work, and work our way up to more and more complex brains.

Computers are really good at crunching numbers and making quick calculations. Brains are really good at visual recognition and auditory recognition. If you could get the best of both worlds that would be awesome, and the best way to do that would be to genetically engineer something. I wasn’t able to do that, so I —> Read More