Re: Consciousness/Uploading

Scott Badger (
Mon, 6 Jul 1998 08:33:10 -0500

>On Tue, 5 May 1998, David Bradley wrote:
>> *If the consciousness is both contained in, and produced by the cells of
the brain*
>> (and is the reason you die if you do not get enough oxygen to the brain)
one sould
>> be able to *logically* assume that:
>> 1) If the cells are all taken away and the new system is implanted, that
>> original consciousness *is* lost. There should be no more reason for the
>> consciousness to exist than there would be for a person 'a' to still be
>> in an apartment after 'a' has been replaced by person 'b'. The apartment
>> still be a home (or the body may still have a consciousness,) but there
is a new
>> 'tenant.'
>Actually, I find this dubious. If I am playing Bach's "Goldberg
>Variations" on my CD player, and then remove the CD and replace it with
>another identical one, is the same music being played? Yes. The CDs are
>different, but the music is the same.

Reminds me of an old Steven Wright remark which went something like:

*I came home to my apartment yesterday and realized that someone had replaced everything I owned with an exact duplicate.*

I think this notion of *It won't really be me.* is a tough one to deal with. Consider the following scenario:

You go to sleep one night, and I make an exact duplicate of you then destroy your original body. Is it still you when it wakes up? It will certainly believe it is you.

(Remember when Jeff Goldblum was transported across pods in *The Fly*, and then said to his baboon friend, *Is it me or is it memorex?*)

Now answer the following: If I don't make a duplicate, is the person that wakes in the morning an exact duplicate of the person that went to sleep last night?

I think you'd have to say no. Some cells multiplied, some died, dendrites changed paths, and you're not nearly as sleepy as you were. The change may be slight but you're not really the same person as you were yesterday. The change is far more observable if you compare yourself now to yourself 20 - 30 years ago. But that doesn't seem to bother any of us because the change is so gradual. Glaciers don't seem to be moving either.

If I told you when you were 20 that I was going to turn you into the person you would be when you were 40, you would probably feel like you'd be losing more than just time. Seems like most of us are are burdened with the notion that there's something immutable that represents our essence (the soul meme) which will be lost if we are uploaded. It's my guess that there is no soul and that there's precious little if anything about you that is constant and immutable.

BTW, this isn't just an uploading question. Other transhumanist-related alterations in our physical and mental make-up will force us to ponder the same thorny question, *Will it still be me?* Probably not, but the *you* that you're trying to save is more illusory than you imagine. Bottom line, eventually no matter what you do, *you* are not going to be *you* anymore.