Re: what it's like to be uploaded

From: James Swayze (
Date: Wed Feb 23 2000 - 01:15:51 MST

Damien Broderick wrote:
> At 06:57 PM 21/02/00 EST, QueeneMUSE wrote:
> I am curious what your "idea" of an uploaded TH consciousness would
> experience, i.e. sight? sound? interaction with the outside world?
> interaction with others? Are the experiences within a Virtual World much
> like
> our own , only far more mutable?

To QueenMuUSE, perhaps this will help. It's not exactly what I expect to feel
more what I feel now but bear with me please it will surprise you. I meant to
post this in response to the "are you a mutant" thread. However, I got only so
far and saved the draft and waited. When you asked your question it made my post
more poignant. Forgive me it is long.

(Please excuse the long introductory part. I feel it is necessary)

I am a cyborg. although by strict definition, as I understand it, we all are if
we use...hmmm, depend on technology. I really depend on it. I can't ambulate so
I need an electric wheelchair...a very high tech one at that. I have metal
supporting one of my arm bones and another piece of metal (titanium) somewhere I
won't mention. I have a computerized anesthesia pump in my abdomen that pumps a
small metered dose through a tube that runs around to my back and 9 inches up my

Without this pump constant pain and spasticity would push my blood pressure up
to critical level endangering a stroke. So though I could live a while without
it, in the long run I can't really. So I am a true cyborg. ;)p neener neener!
Ok, it's not really an enhancement but at least I have a sense of humor about
it. Oh I forgot to mention my spectacles and my pc.

Some might by now have guessed I have a spinal cord injury. It was severed at
the cervical 5/6 level so I am a quadriplegic. So, I'm curious what people
believe regarding some of the possible transformations those of our ilk are
looking forward to? What might a disembodied brain experience sensory wise? I
have a unique insight. 1) I come as close to being a disembodied mind as you get
without removing a brain and keeping it alive in a vat somehow. 2) I have a
reasonable understanding of technology and science. 3) I'm a little bit familiar
with the ideas in Extropianism, such as uploading, virtual reality, bionics,
etc.--enough I feel to relate intelligibly.

I got to thinking about this as I became more acquainted with the precepts of
transhumanist technological expectations. I've had twenty years to become
familiar with sensory loss. So I've encountered some unique situations that
provide information most will not have. I think the best way to get to the heart
of my premise is to use pleasure sensory to illustrate. I'll try to stay
euphemistic so to not embarrass sensibilities.

I had occasion the other day to recall a discussion with my brother about
virtual reality sensual pleasure. He thought it would be something I would
really go for--I did not. Perhaps a little background is in order to understand
why he felt this way. I cannot feel with my skin from just above my nipples
down. Nothing, no pleasure, no pain. Well pain is a special case. I do have
what's called dysreflexia which elevates my blood pressure dangerously when an
area of the body below lesion level (not intervated with nerve sensory any
longer) is having pain stimulus for whatever reason. This causes referred pain
and headaches but the localized sensation is muted--totally.

My brother was looking through his paradigm and I only now understand this. He
had no idea what it was like for me. He gets visually stimulated and he feels it
in his loins like everyone else and I assume most if not all of you. This is not
to say I do not get visually stimulated. Let me make a few distinctions here. 1)
as far as the issue above of being visually stimulated, I am referring to while
being awake (not making the distinction regarding consciousness or not some may
be awake but whether truly conscious is debatable), 2) I am still capable of the
physical outward indications of male arousal. 3) said state of arousal does not
arise (no pun intended--maybe) from mental arousal--it is entirely to the best
of my knowledge and experience and scientific experiment, purely reactionary to
irratative stimulus.

Now let me get to the point before this turns into a thesis. I do NOT feel
sensual engagements even in my dreams. I do not have the proverbial (sorry I am
lost for euphemisms) "wet dreams" anymore. I have had evidence that they have
occurred but I did not feel nor enjoy them as I did before my spine was severed.
Now this concerns what is most often an involuntary occurrence, so what of
voluntary? I can lucid dream so I of course have tried to direct my dreams so
that I had sensual relations and even then I do not enjoy nor feel them the same
way as before injury. It's as if being separated from it's external sensory
information gathering equipment the mind is incapable of normal operation.

If sensual relations are as most believe largely the purview of the mind alone,
why then can't I at least enjoy a rich dream life? I know we must consider that
there is a psychological reason. I won't discount this. However, would this, if
true, really affect the involuntary nocturnal emissary involvement? I have my
doubts. As I have my doubts about uploading and jacking and VR. I don't think
that an uploaded mind alone can perceive sensory information as richly as when
it was wet ware. I have an open mind though and wouldn't presume to know enough
about the dreamed of methods and technologies of uploading to rule it out. I
only wish to help with a unique perspective. It's not my wish to rain on
anyone's parade so please don't be angry with me. Lastly please forgive the
haste in which this is written. I am having surgery on friday and one never
knows, so I wanted to share this and time was short.


"Quod de futuris non est determinata omnino veritas"
			    NOSTRADAMUS 15TH Century

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