Re: Uploading, info theory, and threads of consciousness

Anders Sandberg (
Fri, 1 Nov 1996 17:42:04 +0100 (MET)

On Thu, 31 Oct 1996 wrote:

> I have one serious reservation regarding uploading
> that appears to be a real issue. As far as I can tell, information
> theory would prevent the possibility of uploading.

I see your argument, but it isn't based in information theory, rather
(information-) ontology.

The big problem in this debate is that we always confuse numerical
identity with ontological identity and personal identity. They do not
need to be equivalent.

> The problem is that people are viewing information as though it were
> physical matter. Information can never be moved, it can only be copied.
> Uploading is the transfer of information. The inability to move
> information (as opposed to copying) is a fundamental limitation of all
> information systems.

Actually, if I encode a message in something (say a disk or a hydrogen
atom), I can move it around quite well without copying it. Information
doesn't seem to be able to exist on its own, it needs to be encoded in
something since it is a pattern.

> It appears that uploading should not be possible for these reasons. The
> best we might hope for would be to augment our existing systems.

Even if we would accept your argument, it wouldn't make uploading
impossible. It would just make some of us more reluctant to try it, while
others wouldn't care.

The big question I have, is information == consciousness? Or consciousness
a property of information (processing)? Or something else? Big question,
hard to answer.

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