Okay, I don't like the term "mind uploading"...I prefer to think think of "downloading" as a transfer from a more sophisticated information processor to a less sophisticated one. In The Start of Eternity, I use the term "mind downloading" to refer to the attempted transfer of a human mind into a bunch of positronic circuits.
In my last blog post I was making plans for how Observer Base could be liberated from the Huaoshy. The heroine who accomplishes this amazing feat is a robot named Gohrlay. The positronic brain of R. Gohrlay was created by copying the structure of a Neanderthal's biological brain.
The problem is that, like Gilgamesh, R. Gohrlay is not a very suave operator. Gilgamesh ruled over humans while being clueless about what it means to be human. When R. Gohrlay's new artificial consciousness forms, she has the science fiction equivalent of a "gift from the gods", the power of telepathy. Gohrlay uses telepathy to confirm her previous hunch that something is terribly wrong with Observer Base. Confronted with knowledge of how the Huaoshy have taken control of the fate of Humanity, R. Gohrlay finds herself in a race to liberate humanity from the aliens before her telepathic ability is revealed. Gohrlay must overcome some serious limitations for an alien-bashing heroine, including the fact that she has no legs! More importantly, one of the "laws of robotics" is built into her positronic circuits: she must follow orders.
Isaac Asimov imagined a logical arrangement of the Laws of Robotics, but he never showed the origin of those laws. While R. Gohrlay is struggling to assemble her robotic mind and defeat the Huaoshy, the humans of Observer Base are coming to grips with the challenges involved in having created the first two positronic robots with human-like intelligence. Recognizing the pressing need to liberate humanity from the Huaoshy, R. Gohrlay's first "rule" is that she must protect humanity. In contrast, the first concern of the humans is that R. Gohrlay follow orders. They program into R. Gohrlay's positronic circuits the unavoidable imperative that she follow orders. Of course, this is less of a restriction on her behavior than they imagine, since she can use her telepathic powers to prevent people from giving her inconvenient orders!
As told in The Start of Eternity, the first positronic brains are large and cumbersome and kept in their own rooms. The brains are linked via radio communications to the robotic bodies. This brings new meaning to the "law of robotics" that instructs robots to protect themselves. The first positronic robots can sacrifice their bodies without risking their brains. As a kind of corollary, the first two positronic brain robots can swap bodies. Making use of this body swapping "trick", R. Gohrlay gets her partner in crime, Nahan, in trouble. To protect Nahan from being punished for her own crime, Gohrlay murders the head Overseer.
There are limits to the telepathic powers of R. Gohrlay. R. Gohrlay needs the help of others in order to defeat the Huaoshy and capture a Huaoshy spaceship. She manages to drive away the Huaoshy forces, but fails to capture a spaceship. Now in control of Observer Base and holding the fate of humanity in her robotic hands, Gohrlay takes action to prevent positronic robots from ever again committing murder. The "law" that says "do not harm people" is imprinted into her own positronic circuits. The fact that she previously murdered Overseer Doltun causes her mind to crumble. A time traveling Nahan from the future arrives to save her and repair her positronic brain.