Re: Aha! experiences

Scott Badger (
Thu, 15 Oct 1998 22:37:05 -0500

Great story, Dan.

For me, the transition from being religious (and I was a 10 year old evangelist at one point) to being an Agnostic was not nearly as difficult as my fairly recent transition from Agnostic to Atheist (thanks in large part to some of the stimulating discussions on this list). Where I work, it would have been socially and politically courageous of me to bring up or admit that I was an Agnostic . . . let alone an Atheist. But beyond those forces, there is the inner part of my psyche that fears the delusion of damnation conditioned into me at such an early age. The part of me that says, "We are lost forever if you choose this path."

What I found so irresistable about Darwinism was how it was able to make so much sense out of human behavior. This fundamentally and elegantly simple notion provided a lens through which people's interactions could be interpreted more parsimoniously than anything I'd found in my psychology studies.

I've been wondering about something, though. As natural selection appears to have generally favored increased levels of environmental awareness in organisms, we see that animals have evolved from a state where (1) virtually all behaviors are determined by genetics to
(2) most behaviors are still instinctual but many behaviors can now be
termed as predispositioned (i.e. increased intra-species behavioral variance), to (3) many behaviors are genetically predetermined, many are biologically predispositioned, and some appear to be the result of what we have come to think of as "free will". That is, thoughtful and purposeful behavior only weakly connected to genetic or biological determinants or predispositions.

It seems to me that the idea of uploading takes this trend to it's logical conclusion. Freeing ourselves from the limitations imposed by the body means precisely that we seek to possess a "will" that is utterly and completely free from biological mandates and predispositions. Given this premise, I conclude that we as uploads would not want to simulate emotional states in order that we might "feel" like a human again...subject to the mercurial vissicitudes thereof (sorry). Picking and choosing to experience our favorite emotions sounds like fun as long as it's under complete control.

But then again, every time I think of uploading, I think about the way it feels to jog down a path at sunset with a cool breeze blowing across my skin....and a host of other bodily pleasures.