X-Message-Number: 25010
Date: Wed, 10 Nov 2004 04:47:19 -0800
Subject: Mind Uploading & Destruction of Personal Identity
From: <>

It is quite obvious to me that uploading results in complete 
destruction of personal identity. Or, to put it differently, there 
is no continuity of personal subjective experience between an 
uploader and the uploading, whether the uploading is done 
destructively or not.

My "soul" can be defined as that part of me which experiences 
subjective sensations (not taken to be limited to the five senses). 
The soul is, if not identically equal to, at least the physical 
correlate of, the brain. The brain is a piece of hardware. You 
destroy the brain, you destroy my soul. You copy the brain, you 
have a new soul, since you have a new thing that experiences.

You change the brain, you change my soul, but as long as you do not 
change it in such a way that it is no longer a soul---i.e. it is no 
longer capable of experiencing subjective sensations---then it is 
still the same soul, and continuity of the subjective life remains.

If you are looking for a good analogy between brains and computers, 
then forego the brain = software analogy. It is utterly false. The 
brain is more analogous to a CPU, while the *signals* in a brain (
including firing of neurons) are more analogous to the software 
running on a CPU.

The "soul" of AIs will exist not in the software, but in the 
hardware. This implies that uploading your brain to a CPU does not 
transfer your soul, but rather, leaves the existing soul of the CPU 
intact. It is more akin to changing the memories of person. They 
have the same soul, "just" different memories.

Therefore, if you upload yourself destructively to a computer, you 
have not only destroyed your soul, but you have not even changed 
the soul of the CPU. The soul of the CPU remains as before, a 
completely separate soul from your own.

Now those of you who think that personal identity is a mere pattern,
 "imposed" on the brain, think of this: your personal pattern 
exists in numerous places in the universe, already. That is, given 
all combinations of matter and energy, there are ways to read (
interpret) such arrangements, to construct a replica of your brain 
pattern down to any arbitrarily chosen degree of detail. Granted, 
most of these ways are expansive, meaning it takes as much 
information (or more) to describe the method of interpretation as 
it does to describe the actual brain pattern. But given all the 
arrangements of matter and energy in the universe, and all the 
possible encoding schemes, they are bound to be some which compress 
your brain pattern. Therefore, your brain pattern already exists, 
encoded in nature. If that is all that is necessary for personal 
survival, why do you care about dying?

Your pattern is irrelevant, since a pattern is open to 
interpretation---convert your brain to information form, and it is 
no longer a brain. It's whatever the interpreter makes of it, which 
may be a brain in some interpretive schemes but won't be in others. 
Personal survival cannot withstand conversion to a purely 
subjective interpretive form. 

Your brain is your soul. Don't mess with it.

Therefore, I strongly advise anyone interested in life-extension/
immortalism/cryonics to refuse and reject all forms of uploading (
other than non-destructive forms simultaneous with your own 
existence; and even that would only be useful as a novelty, I don't 
think human brains are ideally suited to any task). There is no 
problem gradually "upgrading" your brain to use different hardware, 
as long as at each point in time, it still has a soul. But you are 
and always will be hardware, until you cease to exist. Pretending 
you are not won't get you anywhere, except dead.

I also call upon Alcor and Cryonics Institute to create some kind 
of a policy on uploading, or at least allow their members to refuse 
uploading. Its (ultimately) low cost might be enticing, but so is 
cremation. Both have the same effect, from the perspective of the 
person undergoing uploading/cremation.

This also has implications for chemical fixation, plastination, and 
other techniques of brain preservation that require uploading.

Best Regards,

Richard R

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