John K Clark (johnkc@well.com)
Wed, 6 Nov 1996 09:52:16 -0800 (PST)


On Tue, 05 Nov 1996 James Rogers <jamesr@best.com> Wrote:

>There is a parallel to this in the computer world. Consider
>what happens if you start two copies of Microsoft Word on
>your computer. You have two identical programs both running
>in the memory of your computer, quite possibly in exactly
>the same state.

If the two programs are in exactly the same state, then you are not running
two programs you are only running one program, you are just doing it in an
inefficient manner that will cut its speed in half. You are telling the
machine to make exactly the same calculation twice, but if you already know
the answer then it's pointless to calculate the same thing again.

>how does your operating system tell the difference between
>two copies of identical software in exactly the same state?
>The answer is that every instance of Microsoft Word has an
>externally identifiable signature that only has significance
>to the operating system and other programs. Note that the
>signature is based on spatial and physical properties of each
>instance of Microsoft Word, since there is no other possible
>way of distinguishing identical programs.[...] The signature
>is essentially the "self-awareness" of the program.

You're theory is that the space-time coordinates of a brain are important in
differentiating one consciousness from another, but I don't see how that
could be true. You argue that two identical brains somehow produce different
subjectivity because the brains are in different positions, but a brain
without senses can't detect it's position. A brain can't detect time either,
I could speed up or slow down your brain as much as I wanted, I could even
stop it for a billion years and you would never notice. A brain without
senses can't detect anything.

Sensations can certainly change subjectivity, so the space-time position of
the sense input is of paramount importance, but the position of the
information processing machine is irrelevant. For most of human history
people thought that the hart was the seat of consciousness and the brain just
a minor organ to cool the blood, it didn't matter, those people were still
conscious. The same is true for an Upload, he might not know or care where
his brain was, it could be distributed in thousands of computers all over the
planet. On the other hand, he would be very interested where and when his
senses were.

>You could start and stop each instance of Word as many times
>as you like and the signature, hence identity, would remain
>the same.

Then the two programs would no longer be identical.

>A program is deleted by changing or erasing this signature.

And if I deleted my letter on one Word program but not the other, then my
letter survives.

>The point to all this is that even though your consciousness
>"felt" the same after upload internally, external observers
>would only recognize an equivalence, not a sameness.

Well which is it? Before you said things would look the same to an external
observer but not subjectively, now you say the opposite. If you felt like you
survived after the upload, what more do you need?

I could be wrong but I think you would agree with me that the mind is what
the brain does. Playing music is what a phonograph does. If 2 phonographs are
synchronized and playing the same symphony and you destroy one machine,
the music does not stop. And it's real music not simulated music, just as a
computer performs real arithmetic not simulated arithmetic.

>is it possible for it [consciousness] to exist in two places
>at the same time?

No, but then it's not even possible for consciousness to exist in one place
at the same time because consciousness does not have a place because it is
not a noun, it is an adjective.

John K Clark johnkc@well.com

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