Image from Bernd Helfert

Definition [1]: To transfer the consciousness and mental structure of a person from a biological (or other) matrix to an electronic or informational or virtual matrix. This process is sometimes called Whole Brain Emulation (although modern uploading techniques also upload a great deal of information about the rest of the persons' physical body). The term 'Downloading' is also sometimes used, mainly to denote transferring the mind to a slower or less spacious matrix.

Definition [2]: The resulting infomorph sentient; a type of virtual.

Uploads are also sometimes called ghosts if the original did not survive the process. These are former modosophonts who have had their brains (and possibly bodies) scanned and turned into a digital emulation.

Uploading was suggested by Alan Turing in the Atomic Age, and became a major research goal during the early Interplanetary Age. However the sheer complexity and difficulty of precisely translating and reproducing the entire human brain with all its encoded memories and experiences, meant that even destructive nanotech uploading was only partially successful prior to the 4th century AT. Early uploads consisted of just parts of the original neural net, with the rest interpolated.

During the Federation Era first destructive and then non-destructive uploading became very sophisticated, allowing the creation of entities that are subjectively identical to the original; the fidelity of these techniques have improved significantly since that time.

In the Current Era non-destructive uploading is the norm, so that an individual is able to create as many copies as necessary. In many cases these copies are stored as inactive data, acting as a backup for use in the event of accident or malicious damage.

Copies may inhabit a virtual environment, and occupy a virtual body. It is also possible for them to download themselves into a suitable equipped vec, android, or biological body, in a process known as incarnation. Given their ontological state a virtual entity can easily make additional copies of themselves or edit their own neural network with the right software. While copies do not age, over time they tend to either get stuck in a static personality or extend themselves beyond recognition in various ways.


Alpha Upload - An uploaded copy with a personality practically indistinguishable from that of the original entity.

Beta Upload - A copy (or a copy of a copy) of the alpha that is degraded somewhat from the original entity

Exemplar - The original entity, whether biont or aioid.

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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg in his Transhuman Terminologyupdated by Steve Bowers 2017
Initially published on 15 December 2001.