I see now that a lot of the discussion of consciousness here is centered around uploading of one's mind into another medium. I thought I could add my two cents.
First, I'd like to point out that I think uploading is the wrong approach. It would be better to replace the body with new electromechanical technology -- cell for cell via multiple injections. Once every cell has been replaced with an electromechanical version, they can all dispense with the "organic pretension". The new body will be programmable. Bored with the old style of body? Go in for a retrofit or maybe a restructuring "operation".
The first problem is designing electromechanical cells that can create chemicals for the intermediate stage. It's clear that they're going to have to start out as hybrid electromechanical/normal cells. An internal mechanism will be able to turn some gene sequences on and off so that the cell will be able to assume the role of any other cell in an organic body. These mechanisms will need an internal battery that converts glucose (and or fat depending on the cell) into energy.
Once all the cells have been replaced with the new hybrid cells, the electromechanical parts of the cells can begin a controlled (perhaps over a period of a few weeks) apoptosis schedule, sending the self-destruct command to their organic halves. For every organic "half" that is destroyed, a new electromechanical cell is added to the system, displacing water. Eventually, the new body will be organic free, organ free, and water free. Finally, the mind will the be redundantly encoded throughout the body -- like a RAID storage system.
The skin will be photovoltaic (no clothes) and regenerative walking will recycle energy (no shoes).
The body will also need energy storage for the night and for dark environments -- perhaps a superconducting flywheel. (liquid nitrogen as the new Gatorade?)
Some people in particularly dark areas might even have to "eat" (restaurants will be renamed "outlets").
The above brings all new meaning to the phrase "power lunch" for the corporate world.
And last but not least,
The new body comes with a lifetime guarantee. LOL!
That being said...I'll move onto consciousness.
Our conscious experience is CAUSED -- it does not CAUSE. Certainly our brains are part of the stream of cause and effect. Our BRAINS do cause things, but our conscious experience causes nothing. Also, on the macroscopic level of large molecules and definitely cells, there is *no such thing* as an uncaused cause. That's why I call it a stream of cause and effect.
Pure and simple, the brain generates the mind just as a movie projector puts the image of movie on a screen. But instead of projecting EM light signals on a 2D screen, it projects signals onto itself -- a 3D screen. Signals between neurons ARE those projections. (I'm staying away from the superluminal debate from now on...)
I have nerve damage in my left hand. When my palm is touched, I sense the touch at my palm and also at the tips of my thumb and index fingers. This conscious sensation is definitely generated in my mind. I cannot say that an experience is being extended to my thumb -- even though the sensation is located in my thumb and index finger, for there was no cause of the sensation at those points.
The same goes for the rest of the body: it's all generated in the brain. It encodes an isomorphic copy of the physical world within itself. It seems like the mind is being projected onto reality when it is in fact being projected onto a MODEL of reality.
All that being said, I think that an uploaded mind WOULD experience SOMETHING. If it encodes input data as the brain does (similar signals), it should generate similar qualia.
Further, what does it matter if the qualia change? If the informational content is programmed into my mind that I like the color "red", that informational content is associated with the frequency of the EM spectrum that's associated with red. When my brain gets uploaded, I'll still like that frequency of the EM spectrum. I'll still call it the color red. And there's no way that I'll KNOW that the qualia is different -- minds only store information, not qualia.
Eric // mailto:email@example.com