Re: More important 12th question? (was Re: 11 questions about the Universe)

From: Brent Allsop (
Date: Sun Jan 21 2001 - 22:50:01 MST

Brian Atkins <> asked:

> And Brent what if science goes on for another 50 years with no
> discovery of this? At what point would you accept that it doesn't
> exist? It seems kinda like the problem with never being able to
> prove God doesn't exist.

        Oh, great question! But it depends on which particular theory
turns out to be true in place of this one.

        Take Moravek's idea of opening up the skull and layer by layer
replacing each neuron with a purely causally simulated version running
on hardware very different than the brain.

        When we get to the primary visual cortex, lets start by just
replacing one point in the field of vision and simulating it.
According to this theory, the person could still behave in some
similar ways, perhaps like a person with "blind sight". But the new
simulated spot in his visual cortex would no longer be phenomenally
present in his field of vision. It would be a blind spot, just as
subjectively blind in that spot as if the person had lost that spot of
his visual cortex due to some kind of trauma.

        Since the subjective experience wasn't copying the same to the
drastically different computational machinery, they would stop and try
to figure out what and why such wasn't moving across. Why doesn't the
new causal virtual neuron have the same subjective "pheomenal
qualiteies" would be the question. Surely qualia will be discovered
long before we attempt anything like this, for mainly the same
reasons. But if they are able to do it just as Hans says, completely
copying or uploading a person into some radically different, purely
causal software machine. If such an uploaded person says, this salty
sensation I'm experiencing after this upload is the same as it was
when I was in my meat body, and no one, including the subject, notices
any difference regardless of what hardware his new "virtual" simulated
self is running on. Then of course this qualia theory will have been
completely proved wrong.

        And of course, when my brain dies, if my spirit is really
freed from my dieing brain going of to heaven or hell... then of
course I will know that that particular theory was correct instead of
this qualia one... ;) How many other theories are there?

                Brent Allsop

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