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UK Insights

51% of UK think it will be possible to ‘back up’ our brains

Kirsty Cooke

UK Editor

Digital 17.04.2018 / 10:00

brain-display

Some of the findings from a Lightspeed survey on our expectations of technology suggest Britain is optimistic about downloading memories as well as cloning humans… but not living forever.

It was recently reported that a start-up was developing technology to allow the creation of ‘back-ups’ of your brain, letting memories ‘live on’ after you’ve died – something that 51% of people in the UK think will indeed be possible at some point.

A survey by Lightspeed asked when, if ever, certain technological advances would become a reality. When it came to the ‘Downloading of Memories and Experiences to Store a Human’, 5% of people thought that it would happen in the near future, with 9% stating it would probably occur in their lifetime. A further 36% felt it would happen eventually but not in their lifetime.

16% of people selected ‘I don’t know what you are talking about’, while 33% said it would never happen. The older generation was most sceptical. 59% of those under 35 thought it would be possible sooner or later; it was just 41% for those over 65.  



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The ultimate brain dump

While a company called Nectome claims it will one day be possible to scan the human brain and preserve it, its product will be 100% fatal. The start-up, which already has significant funding and 25 people on its waiting list, claims it will one day be possible to survey your brain’s connectome – the neural connections within the brain – in such detail that it could reconstruct your memories after you have died.

And how do people feel about such a technology? 27% of those who thought it was likely to come into existence one day also said it was one of the top three technologies that worried them in terms of their ‘potential for negative consequences’. Just 19% of those who believed it would happen also thought it would have a big impact on their life. Of the over-65s who thought it would eventually happen, just 21% considered it more ‘exciting’ than other technological developments in the list. 

Hello, Dolly...

Another question in the survey focused on cloning, something scientists have been doing with animals since 1996 and have only very recently achieved with primates. 61% thought that ‘cloning humans’ would happen at some point, with 15% expecting this to be perfected and made available in their lifetime – and 68% claiming it worried them and may have a negative impact.



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Who wants to live forever?

A further question prompted people to consider technology that ‘kept people alive indefinitely’. Just 34% of people in the UK felt this was likely to ever happen, with 61% saying it never would. However, there are an optimistic cluster who think this medical advancement will occur within their lifetime – 4% selected this answer. Of the third who thought it could happen one day, a majority (51%) put it in their top three technologies that would have the biggest impact, if it did indeed happen. 



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Source : Lightspeed

Editor's Notes

Lightspeed surveyed 1523 people in the UK on 12 possible future technologies. Where respondents were asked to select a 'top three', only technologies that they had previously said might happen (soon, in their lifetime, or one day) were displayed. 

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