X-Message-Number: 11099
Date: Thu, 14 Jan 1999 11:41:07 EST
Subject: two comments

In Message #11084:

>It was actually I who first used the fuzzy logic terminology in relation to
identity. Tony B. Csoka, Ph.D.

With all due respect to Dr. Csoka, as well as Bart Kosko, Lotfi Zadeh, and
other mavens of fuzzy logic, the mere notion of fuzzy logic is neither
profound nor of recent origin, and of course the term itself, while useful, is
not very important. The idea of multi-valued logic or a continuum of shades of
gray existing in real-world phenomena, rather than a dichotomy of black/white
or yes/no in logic and in perception, goes back to antiquity. (In quantum
theory, we again have to surrender the continuum, but retain intermediate
discrete values.) The real contributions of the modern exponents lie in
development of specific mathematical tools, moving from philosophy to
engineering; I certainly don't belittle those (although I dispute the manner
in which some writers suggest that Aristotelian logic is thereby superseded or
made irrelevant).

As to recognition of the possibility of a quantitative (fuzzy) approach to the
problem of identity (or of criteria of survival), I explicitly articulated
that in 1962 in the preliminary version of THE PROSPECT OF IMMORTALITY, and in
the succeeding commercial versions.
In Message #11091, from George Smith:

>recently Professor Ettinger wrote a bit more regarding his concept of a
"self-circuit". I find this concept fascinating and important.  I still don't
understand exactly what he means.

It is always sobering and useful to realize that I haven't been as clear as I
thought I had. Although a full appreciation of even "simple" ideas may require
a considerable build-up or development of background, which I try to provide
in my book in progress, Ill try once more to clarify the proposition a little
in a few words:

In 1962 I saw only four serious possible considerations in making decisions
about identity or criteria of survival. These were identity of physical
material, continuity of physical material, identity of personality and memory,
and continuity of personality and memory. I found none of these, nor any
combination, to be satisfactory, and recognized as a possible tentative
solution the quantitative (fuzzy) approach, that we must settle for
recognition of degrees of identity along useful dimensions. 

But this was not satisfying either, for many reasons, and in later thinking I
realized that I (and apparently everybody else, as far as I was aware) had
failed adequately to consider a central issue, namely the locus or machinery
of awareness, the seat of subjectivity, the anatomy/physiology of feeling or
qualia, which distinguishes life-as-we-know-it (LAWKI) from "automata" or non-
sentient systems. (Yes, living people are also "mechanisms" and yes, computers
can be "intelligent" and exhibit goal-directed behavior; but there is still a
profound difference between systems that feel and systems that don't.)

Almost everybody has seemed to believe that feeling and awareness somehow
arise more or less automatically at some "emergent" level when computers (or
programs) or nervous systems reach a certain degree of complexity. Daniel
Dennett, among many others, takes this view in his absurdly titled book,
CONSCIOUSNESS EXPLAINED. But it seems highly probable to me--virtually
certain--that feeling resides in or arises from a very specific, currently
unknown, phenomenon in the anatomy/physiology of the brain, whether localized
or distributed. I call this ground-of-being the "self circuit."

As a vague conjecture, it might be something akin to a standing wave with
feedback. Achieving or maintaining desired states (feel-good) would be the
natural basis of all personal value systems, moving values to a considerable
extent out of philosophy and into biology. 

Readers may be tempted to leap to the conclusion that this is too simplistic,
and leaves no room for the known complexities and subtleties of life.
Certainly it seems, at first, hard to reconcile e.g. with the fact that, by
our behavior and verbalized feelings, we often seem to value abstractions such
as patriotism over "basic" values such as survival; or that we often seem to
hold values that are mutually contradictory. Resolution of these difficulties
depends on discovering the precise nature and behavior of the self circuit,
and the relation between basic values on the one hand, and derived values and
habits on the other. 

I can't go into further detail today, but my main point is that these ideas
are not just conversational haze or froth, but may help in some small degree
to offer guidance to both experimentalists and theorists, and of course
benefit from both.  

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

Rate This Message: http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/rate.cgi?msg=11099