X-Message-Number: 19876
Date: Thu, 22 Aug 2002 22:21:05 EDT
Subject: Pizer's feelers

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Dave Pizer wrote , in part:

>I do not believe that making copies of an individual and then destroying the 
original can ever be called survival of the original

> I have no fear of competing with machines in the future, as long as I have 
access to machines myself for help in the limited areas they can help. 

>You don't have to become the machine to have access to machine technology.  
Me being me, or you being you, is not how fast you think or how much 
information you have stored in your cortex, it is the feeling of awareness 
that you have and that I have.  As long as that is preserved, it can access 
lots of other stuff without having to become the other stuff.

 >It may turn out to be the case that silicon cannot produce a feeling of 
self-awareness like carbon can.  The jury is out on that.  But without a 
feeling of awareness, a thing is not like us.  A machine that can do 
computations a trillion times faster and better than us, but does not have 
self-awareness is less like us than an bug is.

>I don't think we are doomed in the form we are.  I think we will figure out 
how to get help from machines just as we are doing now.  It may be the case 
that the machine is hooked directly to your present brain for faster or 
better access, but I would hold that the part of your brain that now feels 
self-awareness is the only essential part of any new arrangement that will be 
I think he is on the button concerning the (probable) most basic necessary 
condition for survival, and barring new discoveries such as linked minds. The 
sine qua non of survival is that the feeling portion of the brain, or its 
activities, persists. (I might quibble about the term "self-awareness"--it is 
just awareness that counts, or feeling, the capacity for subjective 
experience or qualia.)

Whether this is a sufficent condition is another long story, and I won't go 
into that again at the moment. 

Most of the brain is just housekeeping, and most of the rest is just 
cognition or computation. Even my memories are "me" only in a limited sense. 
The essential "me" part, the feeling part, is probably only a small fraction 
of the brain or its functions. As David says, everything except the "me" part 
could be replaced by hardware, perhaps advantageously. 

One more thing: Not only might Habilis have had a central self little or no 
different from ours, but the central self is also a material object/process 
and doubtless capable of development and enlargement.

Robert Ettinger


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