X-Message-Number: 27636
From: "J NT" <>
Subject: How I also learned to stop worrying and love uploading
Date: Mon, 20 Feb 2006 14:38:48 +0000


Kubrik aside, It seems I have a label now, I am a 'patternist', which is some 
kind of classification pertaining to my belief in the possibility of uploading.
I don't agree with this classification of course, lumping me in with the likes
of other 'patternists' I have seen here.  I mean, what is in a name, a rose by 
any other smells just a sweet.  Or does it?  Shakespeare was wrong of course; if
we call a rose, a 'Pile of Poo', the name itself may temper the senses, in the 
same way that freezing water in a bath will seem scalding to one who is told it 
is hot.  But I digress, and for the purposes of convenience, will accept the 
label although I specifically disown previous arguments not made by me with 
respect the position.  I will make one exception however, being Daniel Crevier, 
whose arguments thus far I respect.*

Let's start by finding a label for the other camp, I shall call them the 'Pile 
of Poo' argument or POP for short.  No, don't like that one? Ok, in the spirit 
of non-inflammatory debate championed by Daniel I shall rename it the 'Product 
of Parts' argument or POP for short.  This is because advocates of it seem to be
saying that identity and consciousness are somehow wedded to a particular set 
of matter.  It is a product of, and only of, the current parts.

I think it would be useful in any debate such as this to start with the most oft
used terms and see if we can define them a bit better.  The two most important 
to the discussion I feel are 'identity' and 'consciousness'.  They are not the 
same. Together these comprise what is typically called our 'self', and it is 
this that we wish to survive freezing or teleportation etc....  I could at this 
juncture jump into some trivial maths and say what we are looking for is a 
function such that  f(s) = s.  That is, we still have our 'self' (s) after we 
have done something to it.  I think however I will refrain from maths with the 
current audience, as they seemed so unjustly overawed by it when it was last 
used; it may win the debate but certainly won't provide understanding.

Let's start with identity.  Identity is the sum of the characteristics of an 
entity that may be actively or passively observed.  An entity does not have to 
be conscious to have identity even though it can be animate.  For example my 
tape recorder can say it is conscious, if though it is not.  My whiteboard may 
have a sign on it saying it is conscious, again, it is not; but it does have 
identity.   An entity can clearly assume the identity of another entity.   If I 
place my tape recorder outside the door, my dog will scratch and whine because 
it has 'identified' me as being there, albiet mistakenly.  This is all pretty 
obvious, so I don't think any of the POP crowd deny that identity can be forged.
There is no doubt that the beamed doppleganger assumes Kirks identity, they 
just don't think it is really him.  Individual characteristics may remain latent
and yet we still have identity, a muted comedian is still a comedian.  
Similarly, if we reduce the temperature of a comedian to a few degrees above 
zero, such that all brain activity stops, they still have their identity.  
Identity is unaffected by such activity because we still classify latent 
identity as identity..  Not so with consciousness.

Consciousness differs from identity in that it is experienced rather than 
observed.  You do not observe consciousness in others, rather you assume it, or 
deny it, as in the case of my lying whiteboard.  Consciousness appears to be 
highly tied to identity, you are conscious of being you.  You may be delusional 
and think you are Jesus Christ, but never-the-less this you still have identity 
and consciousness, ie a self.

Our cooled comedian is unconscious.  No analysis at that time will say they are 
conscious because there is no brain activity.  They may be latently conscious 
but this is not the same as identity which is present in whatever static 
configuration is examined.  Is consciousness hiding? Slowed down? Stalled?  The 
obvious explanation is that consciousness is an emergent phenomena of a 
functioning brain.  The brain needs to quicken, the blood to course, the neurons
to fire, and then somehow the experience of consciousness returns.  This is not
to say that you can not have identity without consciousness.  Clearly you can 
as with my tape recorder.  Picture now a larger tape recorder with hundreds of 
keys, each labelled for a particular circumstance to read a particular and 
appropriate response..  This is of course the zombie scenario sketched by 
Dennett and others. Is it conscious? Maybe some argue; if so, picture a huge 
whiteboard with a written series of responses for any given set of inputs.**  
Conscious?  Without moving parts?  I doubt it and so should you.  From this it 
can be seen that it may be possible to have identity without consciousness.  
This is of course a real danger to uploader advocates such as me, because such 
zombies could still have a passionately maintained identity and we really do not
know if anyone else is conscious except ourselves.  This is not to say that we 
could not build an architecture that also allows consciousness to emerge from 
the imbedded identity.  If we allow ourselves to assume that other people are 
conscious despite significant cultural, environmental and genetic variance, then
it would seem that consciousness is fairly robust in human brain architectures.
It is therefore validly optimistic that with a bit more work and understanding
we will be able to build an architecture that not only copies identity but that
allows consciousness to emerge from it.  This is of course what 'you' are and 
if you think about it like this you will find it is much easier to accept 
uploading etc because you recognize that consciousness is not and never has been

Now before the POP crowd start baying a sleight of hand, let me just add:  When 
a fundamental particle affects another fundamental particle, it does so through 
one of the fundamental forces.  When the atoms that compose my brain affect 
their neighbours, they do so through these same fundamental forces as a reaction
to other fundamental forces affecting them.  Other atoms, not previously part 
of my brain can be coopted to play more important roles in this process, 
similarly, others may be discarded, yet my identity goes on***.

If a structure of matter affects another structure of matter at some point be it
spatially or temporally disparate, such that the second structure assumes a 
parallel identity to the first. There IS a connection.  The second system has 
been directly influenced by the first, it caused it to exist through the same 
fundamental forces that cause your brain to exist one moment to the next.  This 
then is the connection the POP advocates are missing, and it is of the same 
nature as that which retains identity in normal brains.

*     I hasten to add this is not two way, Daniel has never heard of me and may 
disagree vehemently

**   This is of course a very slight variance to the Chinese Room thought 
experiment of John Searle. 
*** It may be changed slightly as in learning or decay.

 Content-Type: text/html; charset="iso-8859-1"


Rate This Message: http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/rate.cgi?msg=27636