Re: The copy paradox

James Rogers (
Mon, 24 Nov 1997 21:22:08 -0800

At 05:53 PM 11/24/97 -0700, Brent Allsop wrote:
>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.

I would have to disagree. You are making a tight connection between the
hardware and consciousness. There is nothing special about a neuron that
synthetic duplicate couldn't contain. To say so appears to attach a
mystical (and mythical) value to the individual neuron. Specific aspects
of your consciousness may be tied to specific parts of the brain, but only
with respect to organization and interfacing. As long as an artificial
visual cortex maintains identical neural interfaces as the old one, and
exhibits the same protocols as the meat cortex, the rest of your
consciousness would have no means by which to tell the difference.

There is nothing intrinsically phenomenal about how the visual cortex
processes the color red. The fundamental experience of red is only
relevant to your consciousness in how it relates to the other parts of the
brain. If the rest of the brain receives the fundamental "red" signal as
usual from a synthetic visual cortex, your consciousness will experience
the usual fundamental red response. Any subjective response from the
consciousness is in response to the red abstraction created by the visual
cortex. The job of the cortex is to create and communicate that abstraction.

-James Rogers