John K Clark (johnkc@well.com)
Fri, 1 Nov 1996 09:54:57 -0800 (PST)


James Rogers jamesr@best.com On Thu, 31 Oct 1996 Wrote:

>this would not be *your* consciousness that was uploaded.
>What was uploaded was your memories, thoughts, etc.

I see where our fundamental disagreement is. You say we have memories,
thoughts and feelings; I say we ARE memories, thoughts and feelings. You say
we are an object, a noun. I say we are an adjective, we are the way matter
reacts when it is organized in certain ways. True, matter is needed for us to
exist, but that's not the important part because any matter will do, good
thing too, the matter in your body is quite different than it was a year ago.
The important thing is the way the matter is organized, the information.

Information is as close as you can get to the traditional concept of the soul
and still remain within the scientific method.
Consider the similarities:

1) The soul is non material and so is information.

2) It's difficult to pin down a unique physical position for the soul, and
the same is true for information. Exactly where is the location of the
information that Caesar was a Roman or that 2 +2 =4 ?

3) The soul is the essential, must have, part of consciousness, exactly the
same situation is true for information.

4) The soul is immortal and so, potentially, is information.

There are also important differences between the soul and information:

1) The soul can't be duplicated but information can be.

2) The soul is and will always remain unfathomable, but information is
understandable, in fact, information is the ONLY thing that is

3) Information unambiguously exists, I don't think anyone would deny that,
but even if the soul exists it will never be proven.

>your thread of consciousness still remains in your brain.

To say that consciousness is in our brain is like saying speed is in a
particular racing car and if we just look close enough we'll find it lurking
someplace in the machinery, thus another car moving at the exact same
velocity must nevertheless have a different speed because the same speed
can't be in two places at once. Obviously this doesn't work, I realize speed
is just a scalar and mind has a huge number of variables, but if it doesn't
work in the simple case making it more complex won't help.

>All you are doing by uploading is spawning a second thread
>of consciousness that thinks it is you.

So I don't really survive I just think I do? That's good enough for me
because if I think I've survived then I have. It's like those old Twilight
Zones when at the end the hero is horrified to discover that he's really dead,
even as a kid I never understood that, I'd be astounded and delighted to
discover I was dead because that would mean death wasn't all it was cracked
up to be.

>The uploaded brain would have every reason to think it was
>you because every memory tells it that it is you.

Yes, the upload would certainly believe that he was you, and I can find no
reason to think he would be wrong.

>Your human brain (and consciousness) would walk away and
>continue to evolve on its own thread. Your uploaded brain
>would also continue to evolve, but on a separate thread of

Yes, very soon the two would start to diverge because of random factors and
the fact that they would receive different input data from the environment,
but that doesn't change the fact that at the instant the second original was
made the two were identical. I should add that every day things happen to you
that make your consciousness evolve in a completely different direction than
it otherwise would, and this has nothing to do with copies.

>Information can never be moved, it can only be copied.

I'm not sure what you mean by this. Information can be copied and information
can (probably) be destroyed by sending it through a non reversible computer
or dropping a floppy disk into a Black Hole. If information no longer exists
at point A but now exists at point B it sure sounds to me like it moved.

>The problem with the human brain is that we are more or less
>locked into the architecture that biology gave us. Even if
>we replaced every neuron with optical switches, we would
>still be limited by the architecture. It would be like
>running a '286 computer at 500MHz. Fast, but very limited.

The easiest way to do an upload is the paint by numbers approach, replace
each neuron with something much smaller and faster. To do this you'd need to
have a good understanding about neurons operate but you wouldn't need to know
how the brain as a whole operates. As you point out this is very limiting,
a billion fold increase in speed and immortality is about all we could expect
from it. To design something better we'd need to understand how intelligence
operates, and that could be enormously difficult. It could take uploads
100,000 years of vigorous research to figure it out, that's about an hour
in our time.

John K Clark johnkc@well.com

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