If you want a copy of your brain, you will need to copy its quirks and complexities, which define the specific way you think. A tiny maladjustment in any of these details can result in epilepsy, hallucinations, delusions, depression, anxiety, or just plain unconsciousness. The connectome by itself is not enough. If your scan could determine only which neurons are connected to which others, and you re-created that pattern in a computer, there’s no telling what Frankensteinian, ruined, crippled mind you would create.
To copy a person’s mind, you wouldn’t need to scan anywhere near the level of individual atoms. But you would need a scanning device that can capture what kind of neuron, what kind of synapse, how large or active of a synapse, what kind of neurotransmitter, how rapidly the neurotransmitter is being synthesized and how rapidly it can be reabsorbed. Is that impossible? No. But it starts to sound like the tech is centuries in the future rather than just around the corner.
Even if we get there quicker, there is still another hurdle. Let’s suppose we have the technology to make a simulation of your brain. Is it truly conscious, or is it merely a computer crunching numbers in imitation of your behavior?
A half-dozen major scientific theories of consciousness have been proposed. In all of them, if you could simulate a brain on a computer, the simulation would be as conscious as you are. In the Attention Schema Theory, proposed by my own lab, consciousness depends on the brain computing a specific kind of self-descriptive model. Since this explanation of consciousness depends on computation and information, it would translate directly to any hardware including an artificial one.
In another approach, the Global Workspace Theory, consciousness ignites when information is combined and shared globally around the brain. Again, the process is entirely programmable. Build that kind of global processing network, and it will be conscious.
In yet another theory, the Integrated Information Theory, consciousness is a side product of information. Any computing device that has a sufficient density of information, even an artificial device, is conscious.
Many other scientific theories of consciousness have been proposed, beyond the three mentioned here. They are all different from each other and nobody yet knows which one is correct. But in every theory grounded in neuroscience, a computer-simulated brain would be conscious. In some mystical theories and theories that depend on a loose analogy to quantum mechanics, consciousness would be more difficult to create artificially. But as a neuroscientist, I am confident that if we ever could scan a person’s brain in detail and simulate that architecture on a computer, then the simulation would have a conscious experience. It would have the memories, personality, feelings, and intelligence of the original.