X-Message-Number: 3791
Date: Fri, 3 Feb 1995 20:02:51 -0500
Subject: SCI.CRYONICS iron men etc.

John Clark (#3785), in the uploading discussion,  seems to me to be out of
focus and reading selectively.

I had indicated some of the reasons that it MIGHT not be possible to
duplicate a mind in an arbitrary medium such as a silicon computer. He
answers that "..a brain can be made out of anything..." and then goes on
about computers. He didn't meet my points, but only reiterated the uploader's
mantra that a big enough computer can effectively be or do anything.

Later on, mentioning my example that iron atoms could conceivably be
necessary for certain types of (mental) function, he goes off again on why
one iron atom is as good as another. That was not the point. Identity of
atom-by-atom duplicates is a separate issue; the question being discussed was
whether any particular KIND  of atoms might be necessary--whether silicon
might not be good enough--or, more generally, whether a partial simulation is
necessarily good enough. 

To say it yet again: It is conceivable that some functions of the
mind--including perhaps the most essential function, feeling--require special
kinds of matter, or organizations of matter: e.g. iron which can give rise to
or/and detect magnetic fields. How can Mr. Clark or anyone else be sure (just
as an  example) that feeling does not depend on some system incorporating
magnetic fields? 

Actually, such an example should not even be needed. Offering such an example
might seem to be conceding that, except in special cases, an analog is as
good as the real thing. I concede no such thing. An analog is SELDOM as good
as the real thing, except for special and limited purposes, such as computing
and mapping and so on. (And in those cases it can be better than the real

Producing in effect his own reductio ad absurdum, Mr. Clark says that a
computer made of toilet paper and small stones, if big enough and running the
right program, would effectively be Albert Einstein (meaning not just in
intellect but in essential actuality). 

But he doesn't recognize its absurdity. He and the other uploaders are being
bold and brave in embracing the apparently absurd, but boldness and courage
don't always carry the day; sometimes they land you in the ditch. Avant garde
ideas aren't always right. Ideas that seem silly sometimes ARE silly, even
when they are held by bright people. 

Yet again, again,again: HOW DO YOU KNOW that the essence of a person is in
information processing, in a computer algorithm? It is a leap of faith,
suggested as a possibility by certain lines of research, and by the mind-sets
of some computer people,  but far, far from proven and very dubious indeed. 

In fact--although I won't reiterate it here--this line of reasoning leads to
the Moravec realm where abstract or potential existence is as good as, or the
same as, the ordinary thing.

Another example comes to mind--a thermostat, the kind that uses a bimetal
strip that bends more or less depending on temperature and touches electrical
contacts, on or off, when the bending is the right amount. You can  write a
program or description of that action: this would say essentially, "When the
incoming temperature signal (batteries not included)  exceeds X, send an
outgoing signal (some assembly required) to turn off the heat; when the
incoming signal falls below Y, send a signal to turn the heat back on." Now

If you insist that the essence of the thermostat is its control algorithm, at
least you are being consistent--but you may find it embarrassing to claim
that the thermostat is "an emergent property of a complicated control

On evolution and the self circuit, again Mr. Clark seems confused. On the one
hand, he seems to say that evolution could not have produced anything as
useless as feeling; on the other hand he suggests it could arise as an
emergent phenomenon of the entire brain. 

But I'll just say, once more, that we KNOW we have feeling, which must have
its basis in some portion or aspect of the brain or its functions--not
necessarily localized--and I choose to call that part or aspect the self

R.C.W. Ettinger

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