X-Message-Number: 3349
Date: Mon, 24 Oct 1994 20:35:56 -0400
Subject: CRYONICS Lynch's net

Keith Lynch (#3326) offers a brain backup system that is very interesting and
obviously the result of a lot of thought; and asks for comments or

Aside from questions of detail, the main possible problems I see are (a) in
the premise--that everything important about the person is embodied in the
neural connectivity diagram--and (b) in the explicitly stated supposed
corollary, that this could be emulated in software and still have the same
subjective experience.  

As to (b), we have been over this ground many times. It is not proven, and
seems to me unlikely, that (say) a Turing tape machine could be alive (have
subjective experiences), whether the tape is moving or not. 

(As just one example of the problems, a serial digital computer can in
principle compute anything computable, to any desired accuracy; but
subjective experience may well demand simultaeous real-time operations,
possibly of a type not achievable in an arbitrary medium.)

As to (a), insofar as it is separate from (b), there are several possible
problems. One is that there may well be neurochemicals that are important but
not yet recognized. (See e.g. Thomas Donaldson's PERIASTRON.) Or
electromagnetic fields of a category not yet recognized may be crucial. 

Do microscopic forms of life, or our own cells, have subjective experience? I
would guess not, or even insects--I think rather that subjectivity probably
entered the picture relatively late in evolution--but we don't know for sure.
A famous biologist--I forget who now--said that, if you watch an amoeba under
a microscope, hunting for food, fleeing danger, and so on, you might well
impute feelings to it, much as you would for a dog or cat. 

None of this means that the Lynch proposal is worthless. Just studying it may
well yield useful results, and trying to implement  it further useful
results. But I suspect it wouldn't do the job intended.

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute

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