Re: physics of uploading minds

From: Heartland (
Date: Wed Nov 02 2005 - 06:20:58 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.

At no point during this discussion I claimed to know how consciousness
works. I'm actually not interested in that. My argument is entirely about
the nature of being. Using simple logic and facts, I try to emphasize
something that should become obvious in retrospect. In this argument, I
treat mind as a black box. The only neuroscience piece of knowledge I use
which is sufficient to prove my point is that this black box consists of
some matter flowing in space and time, regardless of the way *how* it
happens. This is the only assumption I make and I think it's a solid one.

> 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.

It's true. Mind cannot exist without matter in our universe, but, in my
view, it's important to separate the concept of matter from the activity of
matter because it is quite obvious to me that it is the activity that
produces the mind, not the matter itself, even though matter is a necessary
medium for that activity to arise. It's the most important point I have to

>> 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?

You misunderstood me here. The activity is actually *the* thing I would like
to transfer. This mind activity isn't required to have whatever sub-activity
that produces consciousness "running" during transfer. As long as this
instance of activity of matter in space and time is of mind-type, it's good
enough for me.

As far as the brain structure goes, let me say something about mind
structure. I view mind structure as a pattern or shape of mind-producing
activity. It doesn't really matter whether I implement my mind structure
using neurons, silicon or something else entirely or what configurations of
wetware/hardware I choose to accomplish
that. As long as I am able to transfer and support that same shape, how I
implement that should be irrelevant to the nature of my being.

To answer your question, ultimately, I would like to be concerned with bare
activity and nothing else. But since activity cannot exist without matter in
space and time, mind transfer must happen through the medium of matter in
space and time as well to maintain that activity throughout the procedure.

>> 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.

I think you are mixing up presence with consciousness here. They are quite
different. I see presence as the collection of all activities that cause a
mind, and consciousness as a subset of presence. Mind-producing
activity must necessarily exist throughout the uploading process.

>> 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.
> Martin

I never lost my potential for presence that is being stored in my brain


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