X-Message-Number: 16827
Date: Mon, 2 Jul 2001 15:07:17 EDT
Subject: Reifman and Soul

Mrs. Dr. Ed Reifman thinks that

>humans alone would hold the monopoly on 
>real passion, real spirit, and the sole proprietor of a soul, or the essence 
>of humanity.

I won't inflict here a repetition of the many long discussions that have 
appeared in this venue, and others, on this and related topics, but will just 
summarize very briefly the way it looks to me:

Most scientists and philosophers these days are materialists, not dualists, 
and agree that "soul" as usually used is meaningless. Many think that the 
essence of a "person" is in his/her/its programming and memory, and that 
"robots" could and will think and feel and indeed surpass humans in all 
categories. I belong to a minority that thinks the case for feeling 
(subjective experience, qualia) in "robots" is unproven.

It's not a question of racism or dualism, just physics or biology. It is 
possible--and in my opinion likely--that subjective experience requires 
binding of time and space, and cannot in general be achieved merely through 
isomorphism. It is therefore not clear that subjective experience is possible 
in inorganic matter, let alone in other types of isomorphic "beings" such as 
written records.

Save your meat!

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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