X-Message-Number: 11076
Date: Tue, 12 Jan 1999 00:02:52 -0500
Subject: Re: Uploading and the soul

Joe Strout wrote:

>...   not true, because
>any plausible uploading process destroys the original brain; the
>biological brain does not exist any more, and has no memories or
>experiences to save or lose. ..

What of the prospects for very advanced nmr imaging with ultra high 
resolution? Perhaps future technology could take periodic "snapshots"
of the brain in order to assure that at some time in the future this
information could be analysed and used to create a simulation. If this 
is possible we could obviate the need to destroy the original brain 
during upload.

If such technology did exist and I had periodic backups made, it
would not bother me one jot that I might lose weeks or months worth
of memory as a result of dying before my next scheduled backup.  When
you think of the extraordinary capacity that such an upload would enjoy
and the heights of complexity to which such a being could evolve, our
biological life would pale by comparison. In this connection I like
Michael_Schepps depiction:

>Once uploaded, one could quickly become a SI, or superintelligence
>as adding and tweaking emotions, brain functions and increasing the
>brain's speed (by running it on faster, more powerful hardware) etc.
>would be relatively easy for an upload. With the aid of nanotechnology
>and such, it could (for example) become a planet or star-sized ball of
>pure computing power; a "Jupiter Brain". Such a consciousness
>would probably relate to us as we do to ants, or mice at best. And
>the good (well, good for some anyway) news is that all of this could
>happen within a 30-100 year timeframe, perhaps even sooner.

Another reason why I'm not worried by any differences between the original
and the "snapshot" at a particular time is that there is an important
aspect of our identity that is often overlooked. A human's memory and
experiences are constantly in a state of flux; yet, there exists a constant
underlying thread of coherence by virtue of the themes or purposes that
animate all of our thoughts and actions. If through minor misadventure I
accidentally bang my head and lose consciousness temporarily, I would be
different, at least in terms of experiences,
even though I would not have suffered any permanent damage. Yet my identity
would remain intact because the thread of coherence underlying all my
thoughts and actions would remain unchanged.


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