X-Message-Number: 32523
Date: Wed, 31 Mar 2010 11:39:48 EDT
Subject: Henson's experiment

Henson's thought experiments, or very similar ones,
have been done many times, including mine of 50
years ago. To try again to unmuddle the concept,
I'll try again to convey my take on it, in extreme
There are two basic questions:  (a) Would a perfect
copy of you--atom for atom--BE you? (b) Would a
simulation of you in a digital computer be in all
relevant respects equivalent to an organic copy ?
First, there are no agreed criteria of survival, so (a)
cannot yet be answered with confidence. Current
majority opinion means very little, but I suspect that
most of us currently, confronted with death, would 
not be consoled by the assurance that somewhere,
some time, in some segment of the putative
multiverse-- present, past, or future--a high-fidelity 
copy of you (at your present phase of development) 
would exist.
Second, most writers seem to be determined to find
a single criterion, or set of criteria, that would allow
a yes-or-no answer, the copy is you or not. It seems
to me a quantitative view is more realistic--a copy is
you in the ways, and to the extent, that it shares your
significant attributes. For example, your predecessors
such as your infant self, and your successors or
continuers or older selves, are partly you and partly
other. And the question is not how you feel about this,
but how you should feel--bearing in mind, among other
things, that satisfaction or happiness is not always
compatible with rationality. Going back at least to
Socrates, a case can be made that it's better to be a 
contented cow than a troubled human.
The second question, concerning a simulation in
a digital computer, is easier, if we simply want to
show that no perfect answers are yet available, because:
First, a simulation (static or dynamic) is just a coded set of 
data which can be interpreted to describe relevant aspects
of the original. Instead of a succession of computer states
we could have pages in a book containing these data. Those
who rely on isomorphism in space should also allow for it
in time
Second, a simulation necessarily uses the laws and
constants of physics as currently guessed or estimated,
and we know with high probability that some of these
are flawed, with the importance of the errors not yet
Third, the anatomy/physiology of qualia is currently
unknown. My suggestion is that a quale is a
condition or phenomenon with extension in space
and time--perhaps a standing wave in the brain--so
that you (present) overlap (in space and time) your
previous and later selves (which is not true of either
organic copies or simulations). This suggestion also
solves the homunculus problem, because a quale
is not a representation of anything, but a thing-
in-itself, the bottom line. You don't "have" qualia--
you are your qualia.
Robert Ettinger
Message #32519
Date: Mon, 29 Mar 2010 08:40:11 -0700
Subject:  Uploading
From: Keith Henson <>

To  completely muddle the concept of uploading, consider your brain
being  infiltrated by nano devices on the same scale as the number of
cells in the  brain.  The devices are small enough so there is plenty
of room for them  without expanding your skull.  The devices can both
read and stimulate  nerve cell activity.  There are no physical
barriers I can think of that  prohibit building such nano machines.

In monitoring mode, the devices map  out all the signal pathways and
learn to predict what inputs result in  specific outputs.  They build a
parallel brain and operate it long  enough to be confident the brain in
the nano devices duplicates the running  brain, including the formation
of long and short term memory.

Now we  cool the brain or otherwise shut down the firing of the nerve
cells, but let  the parallel brain continue to operate.  Activity
continues in the  parallel brain which now takes over forming long and
short term memory.   After hours to days, we warm up the natural brain
and synch it to the nano  devices.

There is no reason I can think of that subjective consciousness  would
not persist across the cool down and warming up of the natural  brain.

I used this in "The Clinic Seed" to painlessly seduce people out  of
the physical world.


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