I'll be speaking at the Singularity Summit AU this coming Sunday afternoon, on the topic "Survival Beyond the Flesh" - which relates to the prospect of "uploading" rather than to anything of a more otherworldly or spiritual kind. I'm rather sceptical about uploading - though I can't rule it out totally, no matter how advanced our technology becomes. I spent yesterday working out what I could say meaningfully in a quite short slot, given that I'd devote at least three lectures to such a topic if teaching it from scratch as part of a philosophy course on issues such as mind and personal identity. I think I managed to work out something useful in the end. This is a sufficiently slippery topic that I'll be relying quite heavily on the shortish paper that I ended up writing. Hopefully I can end up making it interesting.
Please don't ask me to publish the paper on the internet. I am, among other things, a professional writer. Although I don't see an obvious market for this paper I can't simply throw away the intellectual property in something that just might give me a sale somewhere with a bit of tweaking (the paper is nowhere near original enough or rigorous enough or adequately grounded in the existing literature to be sent to an academic journal - it's meant for popular consumption). If you'd like to buy such a paper for a magazine or a book, please contact me.
The big issue, it seems to me, is why I would want to upload myself. Presumably it's to live longer and to gain certain advantages such as being able to think more quickly and powerfully. But that means I must be confident that I can look forward to enjoying those advantages. It's no use if the advantages will simply be enjoyed by a being somewhat like me. Thus, issues about personal identity, survival, and so on are inescapable, even if our conceptions of these things are hopelessly vague. There do seem to be situations where a psychological duplicate of me could be made and it would be pretty clear that I would not enjoy whatever experiences it has, so it's not as if there's no risk of things turning out like that. But what criteria do we use and where do we draw the line?
I don't have clear and convincing answers to these questions, and I don't believe anyone else has either - Derek Parfit's answers are fairly clear but I don't find them all that convincing. Still, I might at least be able to offer my audience some tools for thinking about it.