PHIL: Cybergnosticism (was: Upload Motivations)

Anders Sandberg (
Wed, 8 Jan 1997 13:01:38 +0100 (MET)

On Mon, 6 Jan 1997, Eric Watt Forste wrote:

> I do keep seeing that "general dislike of things physical" one
> popping up over and over again, and I don't understand it at all.
> Some people seem to somehow think that it is possible to have a
> computational process without an identical corresponding physical
> process.

I think you misrepresent the "cybergnostic" position; even the most
die-hard cybergnosticist will acknowledge that the information has to be
processed somewhere (although the Moravecian platonic materialists
suggest that the processing is central, and the implementations(s) are

> It's distressing to
> see silly dualistic metaphors pervading so much talk of uploading.

Yes. But it may be easy to slip into it.

> I am quite fond of my body. I find it wanting, primarily, in only
> two areas: the planned obsolescence (accumulated delayed-action
> death genes... our evolutionary conditions did nothing to weed out
> fatal mutations that don't express until after 30 or so) and
> inability to function under the conditions that obtain in most of
> the physical universe.

I sometimes support the cybergnostic position; I often feel my body as a
real limitation since it distracts me from my work with physical demands
and limitations, singular location, risk for damage or disease and the
subtle effects of (say) a tired muscle on my cognition. I would be very
happy to spend much of my time without it, only to use the body for what
it is truly good for: sensual exploration of the physical world.

> But I can't even form a coherent notion of
> what it would be like to exist without a body.

Have you gone into a "hacker trance" or "email trance"? It sometimes
happens to me as I use a computer: everything that is outside the virtual
desktop fades away, and the world becomes information. I don't think about
my chair, how I write on the keyboard or move the mouse, I just exist as a
disembodied consciousness influencing the digital world by will alone.
This is the kind of existence I would like to use in my "working mode".

> Utility fog might
> work nicely, if it can be built. ;)

A bit light, isn't it? What to do when there is a strong wind? :-)
I would opt for a more solid mesoscale structure.

Anders Sandberg Towards Ascension!
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y