X-Message-Number: 26063
Date: Thu, 21 Apr 2005 10:53:18 EDT
Subject: "virtual"  experience

Francois wrote in part:

Dreams  are a proof of concept that life as a virtual
entity in a virtual world is  a perfectly valid and satisfactory form  of

This is carelessness with definitions. 
A "virtual" experience is sometimes used to mean one in which the  

environment is simulated, somewhat as in pilot training. In this case, of  
course, the 

experience itself--the inward activity of the brain--is the same as  always. It
is not simulated but real, although we cannot yet characterize it in  
physiological terms.
We can say--although no doubt oversimplifying--that, in dreaming, the brain  
manufactures certain signals that are ordinarily responses to outside stimuli. 
 These are then processed in more or less the usual way to produce qualia, 
the  actual subective experiences. 
The main question discussed has been whether there can be virtual  experience 
in the sense that a digital computer actually has feelings or  subjective 
experiences. As I have said countless times, this is conceivable  but very 
unlikely, let alone self evident. The uploaders rely on  isomorphism--but the 

correspondences are NEVER one-to-one; there are always  extras on one side or 
other. The ontological questions are unanswered. We  KNOW that it is possible 
(in principle) to produce decoys  as duck-like as  you please. 
One can entertain the "information paradigm" as a conjecture, but to claim  
anything more than that is totally unscientific.
Robert Ettinger

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