Something About Company
1. The society we aim at: New options for human life
MinD in a Device Co., Ltd. is a university-originated startup that aims at uploading human consciousness onto a device (machines・computers) within 20 years, based on fundamental research and ideas by our technical adviser Watanabe as described in his papers published in Science and other journals.
1-1. What is consciousness uploading?
“Consciousness uploading” refers to transplanting human consciousness into a machine, where it continues to live on. Our technical advisor Watanabe poses a set of concrete hypotheses and summarizes methods for verification and uploading in his book[1,2] (English version in preparation) and research articles, thereby bringing these technologies into the realm of possibility within the next two decades.
・ The foundation of consciousness is a neural algorithm referred to as a “generative model,” which produces a virtual reality within the brain. When we are awake, sensory input synchronizes this virtual reality with the outside world, but while we sleep our consciousness in dreams is unfettered by such restraints.
・ A machine implementing a generative model is capable of harboring a neutral template consciousness.
・ The neutral consciousness of a machine and that of a connected human brain can be integrated, and by transferring memories to the machine the personal consciousness will continue to live on even after death of the biological body. This is equivalent to saying that even after one cerebral hemisphere is lost due to cerebral infarction, etc., the other hemisphere continues to live
1-2. Benefits and the first steps toward realization
Realizing consciousness uploading would present possibilities for fundamentally changing humanity. In particular, it opens up the ultimate option of arbitrary lifetime extension for those wishing to achieve immortality or those wishing to live for longer than their biological body will allow. As a first step towards realization, we will develop a next-generation AI that implements a generative model and advance its materialization towards socially beneficial projects.
1-3. The R&D process for realizing consciousness uploading
Following the implementation of an AI-based generative model, we will then transform it into a spiking network for connection with the human brain. A spiking network does not approximate each neuron’s output with a continuous value representative of its firing rate. Rather, it resolves the mechanisms of binary information transmission at the time-scale of neuron action potentials as in an actual brain, which is considered essential for connecting brains to machines. After that, a machine implementing this network will be connected to a living brain to verify whether consciousness is actually perceived. Consciousness is an individually subjective sense, and thus positioned such that its existence in a machine can only be subjectively confirmed. When such a verification is successful, the machine will be confirmed to harbor a neutral awareness. Then, consciousness uploading will be completed by transferring memories, etc.
2. A next-generation AI that implements a generative model
2-1. What is a “generative model”?
The generative model proposed by researchers such as Mumford and Kawato et al. incorporates frameworks for both “bottom–up” processing, which produces high-level predictions based on low-level inputs, and “top–down” processing, which works from higher to lower levels. Top–down processing simulates outer-world subjects in our inner-world virtual reality, thereby incorporating models for our understanding and knowledge of those subjects, allowing us to improve the accuracy of our predictions. Such generative models remain at the research stage, however, and are not yet realizable in a practical form.
2-2. Next-generation AI implementing a generative model
The company’s next-generation AI uses novel technologies for high-level implementation of top–down processing mechanisms to realize a generative model. Taking medical imaging as an example, this approach incorporates biological mechanisms of disease with physical mechanisms that capture lesions through measurement methods such as MRI and CT. At present, skilled physicians supplement their readings of medical diagnostic images with knowledge retained in their heads, but our AI is expected to provide significant contributions as a physicians' diagnostic aid by incorporating subtleties of information far in excess of human cognitive abilities.
3. Status and outlook for business development
From the features described above, fields in which the Company’s AI is expected to be applied are rapidly growing markets in which high specialized expertise is required, including medicine and healthcare, smart cities, autonomous driving, and space and aviation. The Company has already partnered with Fujitsu Ltd., Nagoya University, and others.
 Watanabe, M. (2017). Brain Consciousness, Machine Consciousness. Chuokoron-Shinsha.
 Watanabe, M.(2010) “Consciousness” in “Illustration Lecture: Cognitive
Neuroscience” (original title:『イラストレクチャー 認知神経科学―心理学と脳科学が解くこころの仕組み』) ed. Ikuya Murakami、Ohm-Sha
 Watanabe, M., Cheng, K., Murayama, Y., Ueno, K., Asamizuya, T., Tanaka, K., & Logothetis, N. (2011). Attention but not awareness modulates the BOLD signal in the human V1 during binocular suppression. Science, 334 (6057), 829-831.
 Mumford, David. "On the computational architecture of the neocortex." Biological cybernetics 66.3 (1992): 241-251.
 Kawato, Mitsuo, Hideki Hayakawa, and Toshio Inui. "A forward-inverse optics model of reciprocal connections between visual cortical areas." Network: Computation in Neural Systems 4.4 (1993): 415-422.