X-Message-Number: 5285
Date: Tue, 28 Nov 1995 09:58:05 -0500 (EST)
From: Charles Platt <>
Subject: Virtual / Real

On Tue, 28 Nov -1, Brian Wowk wrote:

> 	In short, it is inconceivable that wealth and technology
> sufficient for uploading of an entire civilization could exist
> without revival of cryonics patients having already occurred, or
> following very shortly thereafter. 

Disagree. Revival of cryonics patients will require cell repair. 
Uploading of healthy human beings will (as I conceive it) be a copying
process. It is much, much easier to design artificial intelligences or
nano-scale robots that will copy something cell-for-cell as opposed to
repairing each cell and trying to infer and reconstitute damaged structure
in three dimensions. In fact, repair may actually be done by copying. If I
had a mangled bicycle, the components for a new bicycle, and a lot of
tools, I would much prefer to assemble a new bicycle by studying and
measuring the mangled one, rather than try to straight out bent tubes and
make squashed wheels circular again. 

As for the real/unreal debate, clearly an uploaded intelligence could copy
itself into the body of a physical robot that could go wandering around
the "real" world anytime you like. Moreover this robot could be very
"human" in appearance and sensory apparatus. "Going virtual" does not
eliminate the option to "go real" for those who miss it. 

As for survival, a pre-requisite would obviously be to establish a large
installation (maybe an island nation) for the computer equipment, which
would be very heavily defended, again by robots controlled by the
intelligences in their virtual world. This would be considerably safer
than our current world in which fleshy bodies are prone to all kinds of
random failures, and I can die a dozen different ways each time I step
outside to mail a letter. It is a mistake to think of uploaded
intelligence as being "vulnerable"; I think this notion comes from
observing that computer data today is easily erased. But any prudent
computer user keeps a backup, and our uploaded selves would naturally
maintain many backups of themselves. In this and other ways they would
actually be much safer, as life-entities, than we are as flesh objects. 

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