Re: Uploading for Dummies

Brent Allsop (
Wed, 15 Jul 1998 09:52:54 -0600

Joe Jenkins <> posted:

> Because atoms adhere to the physical laws of the universe, they can
> be modeled or emulated in a computer along with their interactions
> with other atoms. This emulation can be modeled in a way that
> represents the configuration of atoms that make up your body and
> mind along with the environment with which you interact.

I agree with most of what you're saying, BUT, I think we are all still dummies and completely missing the single most obvious and important part of consciousness, uploading, and indeed, existence itself. And that is, what are all those atoms (or whatever it is that our consciousness awareness is really made out of at the fundamental level) phenomenally like? For example, I know, first hand, what red is fundamentally like. I'm not talking about 700 nm light, I'm talking about the conscious sensation our brain uses to consciously represent 700 nm light. Though the two can do a good job of abstractly emulating or modeling each other the two are nothing at all like each other at the fundamental level. One is beyond our eyes, and the other is inside our brain. And to miss the significant difference between the real thing and a mere abstract model or emulation that is fundamentally completely different, is to miss the most important part of our conscious existence. Sure, a simple color detecting machine can tell me what color something is better than I can, but what it uses to represent this knowledge of color in its merely abstract brain is nothing like the red and all the other "qualia" my brain uses to represent those same wavelengths of light.

Certainly the stuff of our consciousness must be fundamentally based on atomic matter. And just as one carbon atom is identical to another, an identical configuration of atoms producing red (which my brain uses to represent something reflecting 700 nm light) would surely produce an indistinguishable sensation in another persons brain. But, just because such identity theories most likely will still hold for qualia, don't dismiss the most important part of our conscious worlds: our feelings, our sensations, all of our conscious knowledge, and what they are fundamentally and phenomenally like. True, we can certainly abstractly model them with abstract machines, given enough complexity, just as a simple color detecting machine can model color, but the two representations are nothing at all fundamentally like each other.

Since we know, only abstractly to date I might add, all that can be known about the mechanical causes and effects of 700 nm light and the way it reflects off of various material, we think we know everything about red. But this abstract knowledge of the cause and effect of light reflection has nothing to do with the conscious phenomenon our brain finally produces to represent such reflections of certain wavelengths of light. One is the initial cause of the abstract cause and effect perception process, the other is the final result. One is beyond the eye, the other is in the brain. One is a mere physical object of abstract detection and the other is a gloriously phenomenal experience. One is something, the other is, though a gloriously phenomenal and beautiful something, a mere abstract knowledge or a model of it.

All we currently know of stuff beyond our senses is abstract, cause and effect, information that our senses model. We simply abstractly know how things interact. We know nothing of what such physical phenomenon is really like. But we do know, first hand, what red is like. A sunset, isn't really "beautiful". As far as we now know, it is simply an abstract mechanical cause and effect process that stimulates our senses and scientific instruments according to our mere abstract laws of physics. Since we only know of it in the abstract it can't be beautiful. For beauty is the gloriously phenomenal representation of the sunset that our brain produces from the abstract data received, or our conscious knowledge of the sunset. Why are we such dummies and always completely miss or dismiss such plain, obvious, and necessary facts? Why are we such dummies that mistakenly give all the glory to something that doesn't yet really deserve it and entirely dismiss the true phenomenon that really deserve all the recognition?

We think the glorious world of our perception, that is our conscious knowledge, is out beyond our senses. Because we abstractly know much of the cause and effect of what is beyond our eyes we thereby think we know everything of our conscious knowledge of it. But, again, this is to miss the most important and glorious fact of reality itself; and that is, the phenomenally glorious stuff of which our conscious awareness is fundamentally made of, and how it currently, at best, can only abstractly represent or model anything beyond our senses.

> This was a very big step for me because I always felt a sort of
> selfishness for my physical self (atoms and all) and I've probably
> stepped through the above thought experiment hundreds of times even
> though its very simple. Once this is understood and accepted
> though, it's not too big of a leap to understanding yourself as an
> upload.

Once people finally realize that red is something in their brain, not something out beyond their eyes, and that the most important thing about all of reality is the phenomenal worlds (which are in or produced by our brains) we use to represent the reality beyond our senses they will forever selfishly wonder why we could be such dummies and so quickly dismiss or so completely miss the most glorious and phenomenal part of all of reality. I selfishly want the red that is in my head! I like to call the worlds of our conscious knowledge, which are constructed out of qualia stuff by our brains, spirit worlds. Don't give me no stinking merely abstract cause and effect representation like that beyond my eyes! It's nothing at all like it!

Until we realize the significance of this difference and it's fundamental importance, we will be dummies indeed. We will continue to fail at our science, in our attempts to understand what we really are and what it really means to be uploaded and what we will be able to become and do. Until we understand this, we will only know abstractly of the world beyond our senses, and not realize that we might be able to know, first hand, what the rest of the world outside our brain is really fundamentally and phenomenally "like".

Brent Allsop