Re: physics of uploading minds

From: Heartland (
Date: Sat Oct 29 2005 - 07:38:28 MDT

Martin Striz wrote:
> Moravec's solution seems to be the only plausible way to upload,
> unless I'm missing something.

Yes. Moravec's procedure is the only safe way to transfer a mind between

> Clearly we recognize that by removing the entire brain and simply
> attaching a fully functioning nanotech simulation to the spinal cord,
> we would not have uploaded ourselves, but simply replaced our mind
> with an identical (but not the same identity) copy.


> At the other extreme, it seems intuitively obvious that sequential
> single-neuron replacement of endogenous wetware with some functionally
> equivalent silicon or nanotech hardware would in the end yield the
> same (identity) mind running on a new substrate.


> So at what point
> between these two extremes to do we reach a threshold at which
> identity is conserved or lost?

The answer depends on what we mean by "identity". If by "identity" we mean
brain structure, then identity should be conserved in both cases. But in the
first scenario we intuitively recognize that the original person is dead,
meaning, we suspect that successful uploading must involve more than just
copying brain structure.

The word "identity" is, in fact, the source of the confusion. When people
start analyzing identity and ways to preserve it during uploading they tend
to focus on brain structure and forget something blindingly obvious and
trivial which is that the purpose of uploading is not only to preserve
identity, but, first and foremost, to preserve human life.

In general terms, human life is a mind-producing activity of matter in
space-time. It follows that in order for uploading to preserve life the
procedure must be performed in a way that preserves mind-producing
*activity* of matter (and not just brain structure).

With that in mind, if we replace the word "identity" with "life and
identity/brain structure" it should be obvious why the first scenario leads
to unsuccessful uploading (death of the original) while the second preserves
both life and identity/brain structure of the original.

The threshold in this case isn't the preserved percentage of the original
brain structure but whether the whole system comprised of old and new
substrate lost, at any point, the potential to generate single
mind-producing activity of matter in space-time. In the first case, the
system lost that potential (died) while, in the second case, that potential
existed at all times during the transfer.


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