Re: Uploading
Fri, 1 Nov 1996 12:37:41 +0000

> >your thread of consciousness still remains in your brain.
> To say that consciousness is in our brain is like saying speed is in a
> particular racing car and if we just look close enough we'll find it lurking
> someplace in the machinery, thus another car moving at the exact same
> velocity must nevertheless have a different speed because the same speed
> can't be in two places at once. Obviously this doesn't work, I realize speed
> is just a scalar and mind has a huge number of variables, but if it doesn't
> work in the simple case making it more complex won't help.

Speed is a property of a race car. There can be many instances of a
race car, each with its own speed.
Same thing applies to the brain. Consciousness is a property of the
brain. There can be many instances of a single brain, each with its
own consciousness.

> >All you are doing by uploading is spawning a second thread
> >of consciousness that thinks it is you.
> So I don't really survive I just think I do?

You wouldn't think at all. If the upload was destructive, you would be
dead. Only the uploaded clone would think it was you. You would
cease to exist and all we would have is a computer that contains a
specific instance of you. *Your* instance would have been terminated
by the upload.

> >The uploaded brain would have every reason to think it was
> >you because every memory tells it that it is you.
> Yes, the upload would certainly believe that he was you, and I can find no
> reason to think he would be wrong.

Exactly. The upload is you, but it is a different instance of you.

> >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.
> Yes, very soon the two would start to diverge because of random factors and
> the fact that they would receive different input data from the environment,
> but that doesn't change the fact that at the instant the second original was
> made the two were identical. I should add that every day things happen to you
> that make your consciousness evolve in a completely different direction than
> it otherwise would, and this has nothing to do with copies.
> >Information can never be moved, it can only be copied.
> I'm not sure what you mean by this. Information can be copied and information
> can (probably) be destroyed by sending it through a non reversible computer
> or dropping a floppy disk into a Black Hole. If information no longer exists
> at point A but now exists at point B it sure sounds to me like it moved.

A lot of people seem to be tripping up on this. This is an extremely
common misperception. It wasn't until I was studying information
theory that I figured this thing out. It's application to uploading
didn't occur to me until a couple days ago.

Information does not exist in the physical universe. Information is
only encoded on objects that exist in the physical universe. For
information to exist, it must be encoded on a substrate. If every
piece of substrate containing a specific piece of information is
destroyed, the information is destroyed permanently.

Because information does not exist physically, a physical translation
in space of the substrate is irrelevant. Moving information is to
copy the encoded information from one substrate to another. Physical
proximity does not matter.

What most people *really* mean when they say information has been
moved is:
1) The substrate containing the information has been physically
moved, or

2) a copy of the information was made on a different substrate, and
the information on the originating substrate was destroyed after the
copy was made.

You can't move the information from Floppy Disk A to Floppy Disk B
without making a copy. It isn't possible.

> >The problem with the human brain is that we are more or less
> >locked into the architecture that biology gave us. Even if
> >we replaced every neuron with optical switches, we would
> >still be limited by the architecture. It would be like
> >running a '286 computer at 500MHz. Fast, but very limited.
> The easiest way to do an upload is the paint by numbers approach, replace
> each neuron with something much smaller and faster. To do this you'd need to
> have a good understanding about neurons operate but you wouldn't need to know
> how the brain as a whole operates. As you point out this is very limiting,
> a billion fold increase in speed and immortality is about all we could expect
> from it. To design something better we'd need to understand how intelligence
> operates, and that could be enormously difficult. It could take uploads
> 100,000 years of vigorous research to figure it out, that's about an hour
> in our time.

Even if we were able to understand how
intelligence operates, is it possible to "reorganize" or extend the
architechture of the brain without causing changes in consciousness?
It may be my own limitations, but I can't help but think that
although our intelligence could be extended fairly easily, our
consciousness is irremovably tied to the overall structure of our

-James Rogers