Making the Most of What We Have

David Musick (
Sun, 3 Nov 96 22:08:20 UT

Many Extropians and Transhumanists dream of transferring their consciousness
onto a different substrate than the biological one they currently are running
on. Many want to have their brain simulated, atom-for-atom, by incredibly
powerful computers and provide themselves with whatever sensory reality they
desire. They believe that being run on a computer will give them much more
freedom to alter themselves and improve themselves, and they look forward to
being able to have their realities be whatever they desire them to be. This
idea, called "Uploading" is as appealing to many Transhumanists and Extropians
as the idea of Heaven is to Christians and other religious people.

I have been thinking about uploading lately and what fundamental differences
there would be to living in a computer versus living in the world of molecules
and cells. Since many people who want to be uploaded want their lives to be
similar to the way they are now, there would not be much difference at all for
them. But would they die? That is an important question to consider, since
many people view uploading as a way to avoid dying. Is the upload environment
really a safe one? The biological world is not, since there are many ways a
person can become disintegrated and disorganized (also known as dying). Can
an upload be disintegrated? Are there any guaranteed ways to avoid computer
viruses in the upload environment that basically cause a person's
consciousness to disintegrate? I don't think so. In my opinion, the upload
environment will be as dangerous as the biological world and will be far from
the paradise that many dreamers imagine it will be. I see no reason why the
upload environment will be free from predators.

I actually consider this world that I find myself in to be an upload
environment. Since it is truly impossible to determine whether this world is
being run on a computer or not, I see no reason to assume that it is not,
especially since we are proposing that worlds as richly detailed as our own
will be run on computers someday.

I like to think that we are living in a world of software; that atoms and
molecules and cells and so forth are software modules, with various
properties, interacting with other software modules. My body / consciousness
is one kind of software in this computer environment. Unfortunately, this
software has several properties which I would like to alter. For one thing,
it is fairly easy to disturb the software module that I am and cause me to
disintegrate; I am a fragile being. Also, these bodies tend to self-terminate
after a while. I don't see my situation as all that different from an upload,
facing the dangers and limitations they will face. As far as I can tell, I AM
an upload already. The world of physics is the computer that I am being run

So, for me, the question is: What can I do with the resources I have in
WHATEVER environment I find myself in? Currently, I find myself to be a
biological being in a very complex sensory environment. I have certain
thinking and acting faculties, which I am learning how to use, by playing
around with them and seeing what they can do. I can change the shape of my
body by contracting various muscles, and I can use this feature to alter my
sensory environment in various ways, sometimes called "moving things around".
I can also use certain muscles and a fractal-like bag of air, to cause certain
flaps of tissue to vibrate in various ways, which alter the part of my sensory
environment called "hearing". By vibrating my throat in different patterns, I
seem to have some amount of control over certain other parts of my sensory
environment called "other people". I have other faculties also that I am
discovering how to use to alter my sensory environment in various, desirable

That is how I operate. I asess my current situation to discover what
resources I have, and I play around with those resources to gain an
understanding of what I can do with them, and then I use my available
resources to make my current situation more the way I want it to be. I am
learning to make the most out of what I have.

I find myself to have a biological brain, but I don't moan about it's
limitations, like many Extropians and Transhumanists do. Yes, there is much
that my brain CAN'T do, but I'm busy finding out what it CAN do and making the
most of that. I don't think any of us here are using our brains to anywhere
even close to their full capacity.

This is the challenge I have given to myself: to operate at my highest
capacity; to make the most of what I have; to find out what I'm truly capable
of. It may be that I have some fundamental limitations, but I'm wanting to
advance myself right up to those limitations, to push myself to my limits, and
then hopefully find a way to surpass those limits.

I am very optimistic about what my brain is capable of. I think it's possible
for me, and for nearly all humans, to surpass the brilliant genius of Mozart,
of Einstein, of daVinci, of all past and current geniuses. The geniuses show
us some of what the biological brain is capable of, but I like to believe that
even they weren't anywhere close to using their full capabilities.

I ask myself: What am I cabable of?

My life will be my answer.

- David Musick

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