Re: Wertheim on extropians

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Thu, 16 Sep 1999 22:17:21 -0500

Damien Broderick wrote:
> This captures a whole bundle of typical moves. Hang yr `argument' on a
> selective quote from a piece of fiction, as if that proves anything more
> than that authors are good at catching the conscious and unconscious fears
> and prejudices of their audience, portray uploaded life in cyberspace as
> *phenomenologically disembodied* which it surely would only be if done by a
> cretin with no understanding of the sensory basis of cognition etc, ground
> yr qualms in an `ineffable something' with no basis beyond crude animism.
> As in the bigoted claim: when we speak to women, Jews and blacks, likewise,
> we white sons of Christ cannot treat them as human, since we have that
> nagging suspicion that they lack the `ineffable something' which would make
> them true humans, etc. The mind boggles. Yet this is how Dery closes his
> book; this is what he takes to be his strongest wrap-up. Urp.

You know, it might prove efficacious - for those of you who are still having these kind of arguments - to mention that famed (all right, semi-famed) Singularitarian Eliezer S. Yudkowsky thinks that we have weird, mysterious, ineffable stuff going on in our neurons, and that a form of uploading that neglected this would be around as hard to miss as a whack upside the head with a ton of concrete. If uploaded without our "ineffable something", we would keel over and die inside the simulation, twitching pathetically, after the fashion of a salmon whose nervous system has been destroyed by toxic waste. Good Lord, what kind of depressing person thinks our "ineffable something" has such an infinitesimal effect on the mind that you could analyze the mind's action on the neural level without noticing our "ineffable something" written in blazing red letters ten feet high, much less *remove* it without making a noticeable difference! The problem with these people is that they don't actually believe in their own theories.

           Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Running on BeOS           Typing in Dvorak          Programming with Patterns
Voting for Libertarians   Heading for Singularity   There Is A Better Way