RE: Uploading and Consciousness (was: electronic intelligence and ethics)

From: mjg223 (
Date: Thu Feb 24 2000 - 15:21:16 MST

On Thu, 24 Feb 2000, Joseph Sterlynne wrote:
> > Take, for example, Star Trek style transporter rays. You take me apart,
> > an atom at a time, throw the remnants away and reconstruct a copy at a
> > distance. In at least an intuitive sense, the copy 'isn't me.' You've
> > murdered me, albeit in a peculiarly baroque way. The fact that there's
> > someone else walking around who thinks he's me is, from my oblivious
> > perspective, neither here nor there. I'm dead - just as dead as if you'd
> > shot me or cut off my head. For the copy, of course, the experience is of
> > course one of displacement.
> You said that there's another way of looking at it but how is this
> different than my description?

The difference is that I don't think this is an extraordinary situation:
The copy is to the original as I am to myself a moment ago. There's no
difference between the ordinary passage of time and StarTrek beams,
uploads, radical reconstruction of frozen mush-brains, etc. In every Zen
'now,' we are the copy - convinced we are somehow the 'same' person who
existed a second ago.

Here's an analogy to the way I see everyday, ordinary existence:

   You experience now.
   You vaporize.
   I build a copy.
   Return to step one.

You're always the poor dumb schmuck thinks he's the real thing, with no
possible experiment showing otherwise, then disappearing. Always stepping
out of the transport beam, overjoyed to still be alive, then disappearing
as another you pops up elsewhere. There's a chain of individuals:
each fooled into believing he's all the one's who've passed before him.
This is what I mean when I say 'consciousness' is instantaneous. You're a
sequence of instances, still frames, with the happenstance of memory the
only connection between them. This is why death doesn't matter - you've
already died an infinite number of times. You're being uploaded a trillion
times a second.


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