The Feeling of the Thought

Rick Knight (
Tue, 05 Aug 97 00:04:29 CST

After perusing Robin Hanson's work "If Uploads Come First" (and I do
plan to give it a more concerted read when it's not competing with my
first listen of Kenny Loggins' new CD <G>), I began doing some
surfing. I'm planning to add "Escape Velocity" to my list of upcoming
reads (a speed reading course is starting to sound practical right
about now).
I came across a URL with an article by Andrew Brown entitled "How to
make a soul":

"There is no doubt that the process of learning from the outside is
getting better and better. You can use a brain scanner to look inside
someone's head while he learns a poem or recites one back. You can see
which parts of the brain are working, and how hard. But even if these
scanners could track each signal in each of the brain's billions of
cells, they would still not explain why that activity should feel the
way it does. People may, someday, be able to find which pattern of
neurons firing makes up a thought. But what does that tell you about
consciousness, about the feeling of the thought? "

I think that the last statement is definitely the rub for me and my
particular hold out in jumping on the pro-popcicle brigade
(condescension would be interpreted, just being whimsical). I don't
particularly desire being convinced and I don't mind being regarded as
a foolish traditionalist who blithely accepts the fate dealt to the
billions before this generation with its potentially life-extending
technologies: the uploading of consciousness, the cryogenic suspension
of physical matter, etc..

Are thoughts just states and balances of chemicals, suspended neurons
who are firing at a precise frequency and/or wattage. I don't have
scientific terms to offer here. But I am left cold (no pun intended,
well, yes, now that I think of it, it works...<G>) by the notion that
any part of me could be reanimated and the "me" that commanded the
body would just return to a conscious state. Presumably, "I" would
have the same lack of awareness of time passing as when I hit my
snooze for a few extra minutes of pre-awakening bliss only to hear the
radio blast after what seems like a few seconds.

Perhaps these topics have been ground down to their banal fundamentals
in this digest and maybe I have some more research to do before I so
casually dismiss the fervor of the life extension proponents.