Re: physics of uploading minds

From: Martin Striz (
Date: Tue Nov 01 2005 - 13:01:02 MST

On 11/1/05, Heartland <> wrote:
> Unfortunately, mind transfers are usually debated in terms of brain
> structure and preservation of continuity of consciousness. In reality these
> concepts are somewhat marginal to what really matters for a truly successful
> uploading procedure.

I'm sorry, I just don't buy it. That seems to be the sophisticated
argument made by people who claim the rest of us just don't have an
advanced enough conception of consciousness. I think my conception is
fairly advanced, especially since I probably know more neuroscience
than anyone on this list, along with a strong background in psychology
and philosophy of mind. I understand the illusion of self and that
consciousness can be a dynamic phenomenon. But the fact remains that
if you obliterate all of the physically connected substrate underlying
a particular mind-agent, it ceases to exist. That's still a problem.

> What really matters, IMO, is a "mind-producing activity
> of matter in space-time," which I've defined reluctantly as "presence" to
> bring more clarity to these discussions. Presence shouldn't be mistaken for
> consciousness which is merely a subset of "mind-producing activity of matter
> in space-time." Just because people sometimes lose consciousness doesn't
> mean their brains stop working. In other words, I can be present without
> being conscious.

Yes, of course, because the physical substrate of consciousness is
still intact, it's just not active.

> It really doesn't matter to the success of uploading
> procedure if subjects maintain their consciousness during transfer.
> Successful uploading is not about preserving brain structure either.

I don't understand how. If you don't transfer activity (subject is
not conscious), and you don't transfer substrate (structure is not
preserved), then how does a particular mind still exist? Sure,
there's an exact *copy* of that mind that will try to convince you
that nothing is amiss, but that is also an illusion.

> All
> that matters is preservation of the original presence by maintaining
> potential for that presence.

This is vague language. You defined "presence" as mind-producing
activity, but you said that that activity doesn't need to exist
throughout the uploading process. Well, then you've just made a NEW
copy. You, the person that I'm talking to right now, the one who
actually experienced the life history in your memories (rather than
just having them recreated de novo during uploading), would be gone.

> Once uploading procedure manages to preserve
> the original presence the other things pretty much take care of themselves.

> So yes, I agree that consciousness isn't a relevant criterion by which we
> should judge whether the true essence of "I am" was transferred during
> uploading. I lose and regain consciousness all the time but I remain the
> same day after day, year by year because I've never lost my original
> presence.

You never lost your original brain structure.


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