Re: advantages of uploading (was Re: re [2]: What is "New Age"? )

Brent Allsop (
Fri, 27 Jun 1997 10:02:28 -0600

Hara Ra <> asked:

> Brent Allsop wrote:
> > No. Machines are intelligent. They know things. But this
> > knowledge is only represented abstractly and not with the phenomenal
> > stuff of consciousness which we use to represent what we know. The
> > two are very different and this difference is what is all important
> > with consciousness. A machine can represent joy/desire and behave as
> > if it is experiencing joy/desire, but it can't, YET, really know what
> > joy/desire is like.
> >
> How do you know?

It is true that there may be various phenomenal qualities to
the infinite amount of possible physical representation methods
employed by various computing devices that we have not yet understood
how to directly observe or for which we don't yet really know what it
is "like". But, we can know that even if such phenomenal qualities do
exist they are irrelevant by the vary definition of an abstract
representation. It doesn't matter to the abstract intelligences that
we currently produce whether the representation is punched on paper
tape or stored in high speed volatile transistor arrays. What the
fundamental nature of the representation is like is not relevant to
the particular information being represented in such a machine. This
is very different than us. If you completely rewire an abstract
computer so that what once physically represented red now represents
blue and visa versa, there would be no difference in behavior of the
machine. The abstract machine would not know the difference. This is
the definition of abstract knowledge.

But, if you did the same thing in the optic nerve of a human
so that it now used a red quale to represent blue wavelengths of light
and visa versa, his favorite color quale would still likely be the
same sensation which would now represent a different wavelength of
light. What the world would be phenomenally "like" to him would be
drastically different after such a change. His answer to what red and
blue were like would become inverted. The abstract intelligence
wouldn't know how to answer such a "what is it like" question, unless
it was abstractly programmed to lie about it.

You are right, we are trapped inside our own little spirit
world and can't YET know, other than abstractly, the phenomenal nature
of anything beyond our skull. Philosophers call this "the veil of
perception." Our senses only know abstractly what the world is like.
But, this will not always be the case. When we finally objectively
discover what and why these fundamental qualities of our conscious
representation are we will eventually be able to pierce and escape
this mortal spiritual veil and we will be able to know more than
simply the fundamental and/or phenomenal qualities of abstract
representations aren't relevant to what is being represented. We will
be able to endow machines with the ability to have more than abstract
knowledge. "Oh THAT's what salt tastes like!" they will eventually
be able to honestly say after being properly endowed.

Brent Allsop