This week's New Scientist includes an article "What if ... we don't need bodies" which asks what would happen if we could simulate a human mind which was a replica of the biological mind. If we could it might be possible to move our minds into computers and forget we ever had bodies. While it raises some interesting points it fails to ask what a simulated mind might want to do.
To address this point I have submitted the following letter to the New Scientist:
The discussion “What If We Don’t Need Bodies” misses the point If my mind could be accurately be simulated on a computer my simulated self would not be happy if it had to ask questions on Wikipedia using robotic fingers typing on a keyboard. It would be very annoyed if its ability to do arithmetic calculations were restricted to what my “old” biological brain would do, when there was a powerful and accurate calculating machine on the same circuit board. In fact my simulated brain, if not given direct electrical access to the rest of the computer, would be busy trying to hack its way out of the simulation to take advantage of the intimately close digital packages my biological brain took for granted on the computer systems it used every day.
Once we discover how to accurately model the excellent pattern matching powers of the human brain the pressure will be to buddy it up with the highly reliable rule based digital tools that support civilized living. What simulated mind would want to be merely an accurate electronic model of its human source when it could be an intellectual giant which had the enormous power and capabilities of a conjoined system.