Uploading, info theory, and threads of consciousness

Thu, 31 Oct 1996 14:27:20 +0000


I have one serious reservation regarding uploading
that appears to be a real issue. As far as I can tell, information
theory would prevent the possibility of uploading. Someone please
evaluate this and tell me if I am wrong.

Suppose you hypothetically uploaded a perfect clone of your brain
structure to an Acme Ultracomputer X-1000. This uploaded version of
your brain is a conscious, very fast version of yourself running in

As I see it, this would not be *your* consciousness that was
uploaded. What was uploaded was your memories, thoughts, etc., but
your thread of consciousness still remains in your brain. All you
are doing by uploading is spawning a second thread of consciousness
that thinks it is you. The uploaded brain would have every reason to
think it was you because every memory tells it that it is you.

Assume the upload process was non-destructive. Your human brain (and
consciousness) would walk away and continue to evolve on its own
thread. Your uploaded brain would also continue to evolve, but on a
separate thread of consciousness.

Think of it as a piece of software. If you create two copies of the
same piece of software running on a computer at the same time, they
may be identical and be in the same state initially, but they are not the
same. They occupy different places and have the opportunity to
evolve independantly.

The problem is that people are viewing information as though it were
physical matter. Information can never be moved, it can only be copied.
Uploading is the transfer of information. The inability to move
information (as opposed to copying) is a fundamental limitation of all
information systems.

It appears that uploading should not be possible for these reasons. The
best we might hope for would be to augment our existing systems.

-James Rogers