Uploading the wet stuff

John K Clark (johnkc@well.com)
Thu, 23 Jul 1998 10:53:20 -0700 (PDT)


"Jonathan Colvin" <jcolvin@ican.net> On Wed, 22 Jul 1998 Wrote:


>if the way we "feel" (as opposed to the mere computational aspects
>of our brain function) is dependent on the chemical aspects of our
>brain, then a computational model will not capture the "wetness" of
>our consciousness.

I've asked this question about nineteen dozen times on this list but have never received an answer worthy of the name, if what we feel (consciousness) is not an inevitable consequence of brain function (behavior), then how and why did random mutation and natural selection produce consciousness? Also, why do you think emotion is harder to produce than intelligence, the history of life on Earth seem to indicate that Evolution found the opposite to be true.

>You can model the combustion of hydrogen and oxygen on a computer,
>but it won't make a bang!

Igniting hydrogen and oxygen won't make the laws of Physics go bang either, when dealing with concrete objects you must make certain you know what level of reality you want to deal with, more abstract things like arithmetic or music or ASCII or mind don't have that problem.

>Is consciousness more of a shock wave than a data representation?

Is consciousness more like a symphony or a brick?

>Now I'm not entirely convinced that consciousness is "wet" but it
>seems to be a possibility that is quite neglected in AI discussion.

Neglected? In my experience that's often the only thing that is discussed, even though there is nothing much worth saying on the subject. People insist that meat must have a basic undetectable property of some sort that nothing else in the universe can duplicate. The lack of evidence to support this view is of course explained by the fact that the property is indeed undetectable, but vitally important nevertheless.

>A nice leather-bound paperback and a floppy disk can both contain
>the exact same information, but the first is qualitatively different
>from the second.

Yes, and an upload would have some qualities different from those I have now (color of hair) but not qualities that make me be me.

>It is possible that the qualia of consciousness is dependent on its

In other words, it's possible that wetness is producing something undetectable by the scientific method, in other words it's possible that wetness has a soul. Yes it's possible, if we have a soul then uploading will never work, if we don't then it will. Absolute certainty is never achievable in the real world (probably), but I know where I'd place my bet.

                                            John K Clark      johnkc@well.com    

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