Re: [sl4] Re: Uploads coming first would be good, right?.

From: Matt Mahoney (
Date: Thu Mar 05 2009 - 14:39:45 MST

--- On Thu, 3/5/09, John K Clark <> wrote:

> On Wed, 4 Mar 2009 "Matt Mahoney"
> <> said:
> > I believe that my consciousness does not exist
> Now we both know that you don’t believe that for one
> second, so why say such a silly thing.

Now we both know that I believe that it doesn't exist and that it does exist and that I don't care that these positions are inconsistent.

> > because every logical argument about it
> > always leads to this conclusion.
> Then logic be damned, direct experience outranks everything else, even
> logic. If logic told you that you shouldn’t find it painful you’d still
> pull your hard out of the fire at the first opportunity.
> And by the way, what logical argument?

For one, if you try to draw a line between what is conscious and what is not, I can force you to draw it through an infinitesimally small region. For example, one person posted that they believed that if they were killed instantly during teleportation then they would become the copy, but not if they were killed 5 minutes later. OK, what about 1 minute? At exactly what femtosecond boundary is the critical point?

Anyone who believes that consciousness (that which makes you not a P-zombie) exists believes that there are some things which are not conscious. I can always construct a continuum between these cases. For example, if a newly fertilized egg is not conscious, what about a 3 month old embryo? If an ant is not conscious, what about a dog? If a program that prints "I think, therefore I am" is not conscious, what about a program that also passes the Turing test? By a process of binary search, I can always force you to draw the line through some absurdly small region.

The only other alternatives are to claim that either everything is conscious or that nothing is conscious. In either case, the term is meaningless.

And I can do the same for questions about identity. Are you the same person as 10 years ago? Would you be the same person if half of your memories were changed?

-- Matt Mahoney,

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