Re: The copy paradox

Brent Allsop (
Mon, 24 Nov 1997 17:53:27 -0700

Leevi Marttila <>

> What if some advanced civilization replaced one of your neurons with
> artificial one that behaved from the viewpoint of other brain like
> original. What if they replaced all neurons one by one with
> artificial one. Would your consciousness change? Would your
> phenomenon change?

Yes. I think this kind of substitution is a fallacy which
would not work as many think it would.

When I am picking strawberries in a strawberry patch, the
neurons in my brain produce a phenomenal green field of leaves filled
with phenomenal red spots in my consciousness. The phenomenal
difference between the red and green representations are what enable
me to know where the strawberries are so I can pick them. If you
replace the part of the visual cortex that would otherwise be
producing the phenomenal red of a particular strawberry in the patch,
it must also produce this same fundamental red experience that is
integrated into our consciousness, or our consciousness would not be
aware of the red strawberry and we would not be able know to pick it.

If you simulated the entire process abstractly, you could
reproduce the behavior, but the subjective experience would not be
there. Once you replace the real phenomenal red with abstractly
represented red, the subjective experience is gone. You would
recognize this as soon as the first part of the visual cortex switched
to be abstract since it would then be a blind spot in your conscious
visual awareness.

Sure, you could bypass the consciousness by enabling the
abstract representations to cause the hand to move to pick the
strawberry, but long before we get to this level we will clearly see
what qualia are and how critical they are to behavior, intelligence
and conscious knowlege.

Brent Allsop