Re: Uploading, AI, and Philosophy

Max More (
Sat, 21 Dec 1996 15:24:08 -0700 (MST)

At 08:04 PM 12/17/96 +0000, you wrote:
>Max More:
>>I found this an interesting experience. It seemed that by the end of the
>>class (we discussed uploading late on the second day) most of the students
>>were open to the possibility of uploading a human mind into a machine.
>Do you think that the progression of topics provided the key to this
>achievement of understanding, or were there other factors involved?

Yes, I think the progression of explanation helped a great deal. I gave them
a grounding in the science first, then covered various philosophical ideas
that make sense of the idea of mind as brain function before introducing the
stranger ideas of uploading. Also, I forshadowed that discussion by
mentioning the work on synthetic neurons.

>>Considering that many of the students are Catholic, that was surprising.
>Given that Catholic theology (i) maintains a division between
>body and soul, (ii) has strong mystical/cabalistic roots and (iii)
>accepts the idea of the soul moving to other spaces, Catholics can
>actually access the idea of uploading more readily than some other
>religions. Now, if only the Pope would issue an Encyclical endorsing
>the concept!

Taken at face value, the dualistic beliefs held by Catholics usually present
a barrier to acceptance of the functionalist view that underlies the
possibility of synthetic neurons and uploading. However, given most humans
delight in holding incompatible ideas so long as they seem to resemble one
another in some way, functionalism can (given a proper explanation) sneak in
and exchange places with substance dualism.

For Christian Resurrectionist the uploading idea is even easier.
Resurrectionists believe that when we die we stay in the ground. We do not
float up to heaven in nonphysical bodies. Instead, we stay buried until the
Second Coming then we are raised up in our restored *physical* bodies. This
is compatible with materialism. (Except for God, of course.)

Even if Resurrectionism were true, I'd stick with cryonics since I'd expect
to be back up and running sooner -- the Second Coming has been a long time
in coming. Apparently it takes Jesus a long time to recover after his first
divine orgasm. :)


Max More, Ph.D.
President, Extropy Institute, Editor, Extropy,
(310) 398-0375