Reflections Fascinating as the idea of mind tapes is, the supposition that such person preservation might someday be possible is almost certainly wrong. Leiber sees the fundamental obstacle-brains are not like computers fresh from the factory and all alike. Even at birth human brains are no doubt uniquely configured-like fingerprints-and a lifetime of learning and experience can only enhance their idiosyncracies. There are scant grounds then for hoping that anything with the hardware-independence c( a program can be "read out" of a brain (at a periodic "mind taping" session). There is even less hope that such a mind tape, even if it could be constructed, would be compatible with another brain's hardware. Computers are designed to be readily redesignable (at another level) by the insertion, in one big lump or rush, of a new program; brains presumably are not.
Leiber is wonderfully imaginative about the ways technicians might try to solve this incompatibility problem (and his book contains many more surprises on this score), but in order to tell a good tale he has had; to understate the problems by orders of magnitude in our opinion. The problems of transferring massive amounts of information between structurally different brains-such as yours and ours-are not insurmountable. The technology that already exists for accomplishing that task may however, turn out in the end to be the most efficient possible. One of the most recent and advanced examples of that technology is in your hands