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"Consciousness" is a relative term, referring to the level of awareness a brain/AI has. Being anthropocentric, we tend to define "consciousness" as an entity having a level of awareness similar to a typical human: the human organism is aware that he exists as a physical entity that possesses a certain color, shape, weight, and mobility. The human is aware of his physical surroundings and that it follows certain laws of physics, and he is aware of his own thought processes. Human awareness includes data that is carried to the brain from the five senses; our consciousness includes visual, auditory, olfactory, taste, tactile, pressure, and temperature data from the environment. |
Of course, we can design an AI/robot that has even a higher level of consciousness than any human; for example, we can create the robot to even "see" the non-visible light spectrum of the electromagnetic spectrum, such as infrared, radio, ultraviolet, and so forth, allowing the robot to see and perceive so much more of environment. Think about Star Trek's Geordi La Forge's visors that can take in the entire EM spectrum.
Consciousness also involves IQ: the general intelligence that allows a brain/AI to hold and manipulate data. The higher the IQ, the higher the complexity of data it can hold and manipulate. Thus, the higher the IQ, the higher the awareness the entity has of his environment and himself; higher IQ equals a higher level of consciousness.
Yes, you can only copy a person for uploading to a synthetic computer substrate; the original person still remains in his organic body. The copy will think he is the original person, since identity is based on memories: your perception of your identity is strictly based on memories of past events.
Something to think about: are you not just a clone, a copy, of the previous day's you? Think about it - every night you go to sleep, your consciousness (active RAM) shuts off, and you die. Then the next day when you wake up, it's as if someone pushes the "power button" on your brain computer, turning you on and loading the previous days saved data from your hard drive (the memory section of the Limbic System) into your RAM (cerebral cortex). So when you wake up, a copy, a clone of yesterday's you is copied from your stored memories and loaded into your RAM. Therefore, every night you go to sleep, you die, and a clone/copy occupies your body the next morning. So, the question is, do "you" really exist as a continuous person?
So, how can an organic entity achieve extended life-span if uploading is just a clone/copy? Well, to have a "feeling" of continuity of identity, perhaps nanotechnology can be used to slowly replace your organic neurons in your brain with synthetic material that does not age as much as organic matter. If your neurons are very slowly replaced by synthetic materials over a course of several years, you will "feel" a sense of self-continuity.