John K Clark (johnkc@well.com)
Sat, 2 Nov 1996 21:12:12 -0800 (PST)


James Rogers jamesr@best.com On Fri, 1 Nov 1996 Wrote:

>We would be dead and there would be a computer program
>running that would swear it was us

If something thinks it is me, has my memories, is thinking my thoughts and
feeling my feelings, in what sense am I dead?

>and would in fact be us, albeit running on a separate stream
>of consciousness.

If my consciousness is a "stream" it is a stream undergoing extreme
turbulence, it bounces from one thing to another, doesn't seem to hurt me
though, I'm the same man I was yesterday, I think.

>Information itself cannot be moved because it has no
>physical properties.

It seems to me you could make exactly the same argument if you said
information always moves and can never be brought to a halt, which leads me
to think this is not a fruitful avenue to pursue.

>The physical translation of information from one point in
>space to another is meaningless in an information context.

I think it's very meaningful. After Turing machine A produces an output
there will be a delay before Turing machine B can use it, this delay is
proportional to the distance between A and B.

>If I am not mistaken, the "Information can not be moved,
>only copied" theorem has been proven mathematically.

I very much doubt such a murky idea can even be expressed mathematically,
much less be proved or disproved.

>I am not saying it is impossible to upload; it is impossible
>only in the sense of uploading a single, existing stream of
>consciousness as opposed to creating a new stream of

Every time the telephone rings my stream of consciousness is interrupted,
when you read this post your consciousness is different than it would be if
you were reading another post. I don't see why that is such a big deal that
it makes us different people.

>If consciousness is based upon information and information
>processing, my above statements hold.

Unless the religious people are right, consciousness must be based on
information processing, that's why I don't understand your theory. You're
saying, I think, that information exists outside our physical universe,
if so then the information in my head and the information in my upload a
thousand miles away must be the same, after all you also say " a physical
translation in space of the substrate is irrelevant". Also, I don't see why
you keep distinguishing between "originals" and "copies", if your theory is
right then everything in the physical universe is a "copy".

>There can be many instances of a single brain, each with its
>own consciousness.

Yes, I believe it would be possible in theory for a brain to generate more
than one consciousness, and I think it's possible for one consciousness to
run on several brains.

>Information is only encoded on objects that exist in the
>physical universe.

I don't understand why you say "only encoded" like it's not important,
because you also say "For information to exist, it must be encoded on a

>If every piece of substrate containing a specific piece of
>information is destroyed, the information is destroyed

Not necessarily. It would be difficult to destroy the information that
2 + 2 = 4 because nobody knows where or how it's encoded. Even Shakespeare's
plays could be rediscovered by a monkey banging on a typewriter, it would
take a long time, but not an infinitely long time.

To my mind this does indeed give some support to the idea that information
can exist external to the physical universe, but certainly not to the idea
that there is a fundamental difference between a copy and an original or that
exactly the same information can't be encoded in 2 very different ways.

>although our intelligence could be extended fairly easily,
>our consciousness is irremovably tied to the overall
>structure of our brain.

I think that intelligent behavior and consciousness must be inextricably
linked, otherwise I don't see why we would be aware at all. However important
subjective feelings may be to us, Evolution is only interested in behavior
because only behavior enhances survival. Evolution would never have given us
consciousness unless it was needed for intelligence, that's one reason I
think the Turing Test works.

John K Clark johnkc@well.com

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