Re: Debunk All Religiosity Equally (D.A.R.E.) ---> inloading

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Sat Jul 07 2001 - 19:47:10 MDT

"Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" wrote:
> Samantha Atkins wrote:
> >
> > "Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" wrote:
> > >
> > > Samantha Atkins wrote:
> > > >
> > > > I would also point out, once again, that a believe it is
> > > > possible for the essence of you to jump substrate at all is
> > > > grounds for something that looks very much like a
> > > > technologically backed doctrine of the soul and even soul
> > > > migration and possible reincarnation. I embrace those
> > > > implications, you would demean others who believe something like
> > > > this is possible on different grounds than you do.
> [snip]
> > I don't see how this says anything about what I was speaking of.
> > If the essence of you can be not only preserved but uploaded and
> > partially or wholly downloaded into other bodies then this is
> > very much like the notion of a "soul" that inhabits this body and
> > that can survive the end of this body. It is a technological means
> > by which this old dream/vision/wish can be made real.
> The point is that "soul" is probably the most famous of all the suitcase
> terms. I once proposed that it should be dissected, at least, into
> "immortal soul", "extraphysical soul", "weird-physics neurology",
> "morally-valent soul" (atomic game-theoretical unit of moral
> responsibility; "free will"), "qualia", "mind-state preservation", and
> "self-continuity".

Fair enough but dissection is only one of the useful operations
on any concept/symbol. Dissection into parts or a list of
things covered is also not necessarily sufficient to understand
a whole.

> The issues involved on uploading bear on mind-state preservation,
> self-continuity, qualia, and possibly weird-physics neurology. It would
> be both unjustified and sloppy to, by importing the suitcase term "soul",
> conflate the postulation of extraphysical immortality and religious
> judgement with the idea of technological transference of self-continuity
> of an informational pattern to a new substrate. Essentially the

What does judgement have to do with anything? The term "soul"
does not necessarily imply judgement at all as witness many of
the world's major religions. You are conflating the term with
some other notions here. What is not "extraphysical" about
being stored as a pattern of information in some fairly rarefied
computational matrix? Just because religion and spirituality is
often portrayed as if it excludes all physicality does not mean
it does so or need do so. And just what is this matter stuff
anyway? Increasingly it is pretty tenuous as far as we can
tell. Where mind/consciousness/observer ends and
matter/observed begins is a bit of a sticky question. It will
not be greatly clarified when mind/consciousness gains nanotech
enabled ability to control matter on a very fine basis. It
will become even less clear when we consciously inhabit

> issue of pattern continuity versus material continuity is raised by
> molecular replacement in the human body.

> > > I tend to be confident about my ability to handle what goes on in my head,
> > > but I don't mess with social group polarization, I don't mess with
> > > attaching moral valency to predictions (learned that the hard way), and I
> > > don't mess with religious analogies. I tend to regard these things as the
> > > cognitive equivalent of sticking your head in a microwave oven.
> >
> > I tend to regard disowning hard questions using absurd analogies
> > as the equivalent of sticking your head in the oven and lighting
> > a match. <g>
> I am not disowning the hard questions, but yes, I am suggesting that we
> should give absolutely no a-priori confidence to past attempts at
> answering them; if there are any relevant ideas they should be considered
> on a case-by-case basis rather than as part of a category. Current
> experience has shown (a) that past ideas are usually wrong and (b) that
> people have a tendency to become sentimentally attached to past ideas. I
> would therefore argue either for complete neutrality (if confident of
> rationality) or the use of a small corrective bias against ideas to which
> you fear you may have become sentimentally attached (meta-rational
> correction for estimates of self-fallibility).

This sounds perfectly reasonable. Especially applied to all
one's ideational/belief context.

> I don't think that anything is gained by dragging soulism into this and I
> am not inclined to grant it the benefit of the doubt.

I think continuity with the rest of the human enterprise is
something that makes it quite worth exploring points of
similarity to religions and religious ideas. It is difficult
to believe that we have broken into the clear where all former
notions can be discarded. Sure we should examine carefully

But I question whether we are the type of beings who can or even
should attempt to release all our "sentimentality" though. A
"sentimental" attachment to ending suffering and acheiving
greater and more abundant life is at the heart of much that we
do here. Perhaps a dissection of "sentimental" or a
clarification of what is and isn't meant is in order.

- samantha

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