X-Message-Number: 15011
From: "Eunice Corbin" <>
Subject: Re: Serial uploading
Date: Fri, 24 Nov 2000 17:13:19 -0800

Lee Corbin here.   Robert Ettinger writes,

>We remind ourselves, first, that a minimum postulate of uploading is that
>instantiation of a Turing computer could support sentience, and could
>(as nearly as desired) any particular person and a segment of his history.
>(Stipulating the computer as the ur-computer, the Turing tape, is enough
>right there to turn off many people, but let's assume you can swallow

It should, however, be noted that a complete re-enactment of any particular
person and a segment of his history would require inputs to the device in
exact accordance with the actual history.  But, yes, this is what we think.

>Another reminder: I am NOT talking about the problem of
>duplicates--that is a separate question.

Yes, some uploaders don't think of duplicates as selves.... yet!!  :-)

>Now. If uploading is valid at all, it is valid not only from meat person to
>computer, but also (and more easily) from one computer to another. In the
>extreme, we could have a separate computer for every successive quantum
>Let this sink in a little. If "your" successive quantum states were
>not in a single computer, but in a succession of computers, one per state,
>then--by the uploaders' thesis--"you" would exist and live just as surely
>in one computer or in the meat.

I am not sure that I follow here.  "A separate computer for each successive
state" could mean an array of computers each set to go starting from a
different state, say Computer0000001 will start in the first state, and
Computer0000002 in the second, and so on.  Each of them would then proceed
to emulate (after it was turned on) some interval of the subject's time,
and each emulation would, we claim, be valid because it would be a causal
development through time that was exactly similar---isomorphic---to a
possible experience of the meat-person.  But, on the other hand, if you
mean an array of separated computers each in a particular fixed state,
then this would no more make up a living person than would a set of
extremely detailed portraits.

>But what is a "computer" in this context? Lee says it is the whole system,
>including its functioning and causal relationships over time (even though
>most of its functions do not reflect biology, but only mathematical steps
>leading eventually to approximations of representations of biological
>states). It seems to me he is implying that the "computer" must have a
>"purpose" in order to count as a computer, and therefore in order for the
>representation to count as a person.

Sorry, I don't understand how "purpose" gets in here.

>So "accidental" persons [e.g. Max More's "Luckiest Person in the
>Universe, an accidental Francis Bacon that happens to pop into
>existence in the 21st century] SHOULD count.


>A meat person arising conventionally or accidentally or by some
>unusual artifice will equally have sentience, and the same for a
>computer person. This implies, it seems to me, that if a
>representation counts as a momentary (one chronon?) state
>of a person, then any accidental configuration, if it can be
>interpreted as a correspondence, should be considered by an
>uploader to be a person.

Only if it gets run time.  All the warehouses in the universe
stacked with sextillions of my frozen brains doesn't do me any
good unless they're defrosted and are set going.

>Therefore we arrive at the conclusion rejected by Lee and Mike
>and others--that if you "mine the data" and look hard enough at
>almost any substantial region of space and time, you will find
>configurations of matter (subsets) that could be interpreted as
>representing persons.

Well, I will write as if I have not misunderstood anything, as
improbable as that may be, and I regret any redundancy.  To clarify
(if nothing else), a David in a slab of granite can always be found
---it's there, even if it takes a great artist to actually find it.
In this case, the meaning is not isomorphic, i.e., give the same
slab of granite to some extremely wise aliens, and they wouldn't
know which shape out of all possible shapes to select.  But if
space is infinite,  (and we have no reason yet to doubt it, contrary
to what is sometimes said), there will be some regions where, if the
alien's attention is directed to it, it will be clear that a certain
person (e.g. Mike Perry) has unambiguously been "written up", i.e.,
coded up unmistakably in binary digits.  Close scrutiny of those
digits would compel the alien to conclude that this indeed is a record
of Mike Perry, and doubtless the alien would surmise that there had to
be some causal chain between the Earth instantiation of MP and the
record at hand.  But the alien's encountering this pattern would do
MP no more good than the alien's finding his frozen brain centuries
from now.  In either case, MP would need to be fired up again.

"Looking hard enough" normally means that the looker is injecting
actual structure, actual information, into an object.  I think, rather,
that in these examples we want the isomorphism to be objective,
that is, easily discernable by a smart alien or a smart AI.

Lee Corbin

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