X-Message-Number: 21660
Date: Thu, 24 Apr 2003 16:40:16 EDT
Subject: more isomorphism etc.

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Mike Perry writes in part:

>The second point is that, true, there is no means of verification of such a 
>claim as this, that a certain artificial construct becomes conscious just 
>because it simulates another system that is conscious. But I think (in 
>appropriate circumstances) there would be no means of refutation either. 

Absence of evidence may not be conclusive evidence of absence, but it tilts 
the scales. When we know the anatomy and physiology of qualia, a system 
lacking such should be presumed without feeling. 

An important point is that isomorphism is never one-to-one. The simulation 
and the simulated always differ in some ways--otherwise it wouldn't be a 
simulation but a duplicate (and even then there would be at least small 
differences). It is always just a subset of one mapping on to a subset of the 
other. So--how can you confidently assert that only the congruences are 
important and not the differences?

Mike also writes:

>And there are important examples of unverifiable-but-unrefutable hypotheses 
>that we make judgments one way or the other about today. One example is the 
>hypothesis that loss of consciousness is fatal; the person who wakes up is 
>not the same as the one who fell asleep, but is only similar. 

For that matter, we are "only" similar to our waking selves of one minute 
ago. I do take this possibility seriously as a philosophical problem, and it 
is unsolved, although I think I have a possible handle on it--namely, as I 
have often said, that the "self" or the "self circuit" binds space and time. 
This implies that we share a degree of identity with our nearby predecessors 
and continuers, and with more remote ones through the overlaps, diminishing 
with more distant times.


>Suppose, for instance, that an 
>artificial replacement of your gray matter would offer certain advantages 
>such as greater durability and non-susceptibility to disease. Do you get 
>the replacement or turn it down for fear it would no longer be you?

I turn it down--and I stay out of beam-me-up machines--except in extremis, or 
until I am convinced I understand it.

Robert Ettinger


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