X-Message-Number: 14867
Date: Mon, 06 Nov 2000 23:25:51 -0800
From: Lee Corbin <>
Subject: What if Uploading Appeared to Work?

It is the year 2059, and some malefactor scans the brain of
the great frozen cryonicist, Thomas Donaldson.  This malefactor
does not harm the frozen brain, but merely copies all the
information therein, and uploads it into a simulacrum. The
uploaded version of Donaldson is presented to a number of
doubting... well, let's just say that they don't believe
that uploading can possibly result in the real McCoy.

Chorus:  Get out of here!  You are not the real Thomas
Donaldson, and moreover you are not even conscious.

The Donaldson:  When I used to say that a human being could
never be successfully uploaded, I was quite wrong.  I know
that now.  Supposing that this is no trick, and granting that
my brain never has been defrosted, and that what is speaking
to you now really is a program, then I was completely mistaken,
because I am the real Thomas Donaldson!  In addition, I do
have an inner life, and I feel, and I am completely conscious.

Chorus:  You are only a machine, just a computer program.  You
are just saying that!  You cannot possibly be conscious!  Yes,
you are saying exactly what Thomas would say if some ghastly
trick had been played, and the real brain was revivified and
placed into the body of a simulacrum.  But the actual brain
has not moved, and no one asserts that you are anything but
a computer, as you yourself admit.

The Donaldson:  I'm telling you that I REALLY AM CONSCIOUS!
You may doubt that, but how do you know?  How can you be so

Chorus:  We know because we have consulted our intuitions on
this matter, and it plainly makes no sense that a machine, a
mere computer program, could possibly have an inner life, or
have genuine experiences.  You have no soul, you're not even
alive.  You yourself know all the arguments!  We need not
repeat them.

Well, the program, of course, will never convince them, because
the Chorus, logically, may be correct:  it's possible that The
Donaldson is not having any inner experiences and is not
conscious.  But I declare that if any of them were cooped up
with the simulacrum for an extended period, and shared its
joys and sorrows, its trials and tribulations, they would
eventually abandon what would come to seem a mere philosophic
distinction.  Can you really deny that they would?

So where does this leave us?  Do those who "don't believe in 
uploading" contend that the above scenario could never happen?
Is that what you think?  Do you contend, that is, that for the
next billion years it will not be possible for any computer
program to accurately imitate how a sophisticated and complex
human being currently speaks and acts?

Lee Corbin

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