Re: [sl4] Uploading (was : goals of AI)

From: Frank Adamek (
Date: Sat Dec 05 2009 - 07:56:35 MST

--- On Sat, 12/5/09, Stathis Papaioannou <> wrote:
I think it helps in these thought experiments to take an "Observer
Moment" (OM) as the fundamental unit of experience. A person A
consists of a set of OM's, {A1, A2, A3...}, which are related by their
information content: A2 has A1 in his subjective past and looks
forward to A3 in his subjective future. It is commonly held that a
person is that person because all the OM's are generated by the one
brain, but that is not quite right. A person extended over time exists
because the appropriate OM's exist. Normally, the appropriate OM's
exist only because a particular brain is able to generate them in
sequence, but this is not a necessary fact. If something suddenly went
wrong in your brain so as to cause a complete and permanent loss of
memory and other mental attributes then this is equivalent to your
death, since you will have no successor OM's...

...So it is probably better to say that the two
persons created due to the duplication are A={A1, A2, A3...} and
B={A1, B2, B3...}. A1 can look forward to either continuing as A or as
B, and it will seem to him that he has a 1/2 chance of ending up as
either. If duplication destroys the original then A1 can look forward
to ending up as B with certainty, while if there is no duplication or
the duplicate is destroyed before it is able to have any experiences
A1 can look forward to continuing as A with certainty.

Stathis Papaioannou
> so
> what happened ?
> Is there 1,2,3 or more 'self's in existence here ?
> if 1 when did it die ?
> did it die more than once ?
There is only one person (one stream of consciousness) who lives on in
the distant galaxy. Other than its role in destroying mind 2 in A and
B, the duplication is of no consequence, since a Planck interval is
not long enough to have any experiences. There is no death because the
subject continues to live after a billion year gap, equivalent to a
billion years of unconsciousness before waking up.
I agree that if you define a person in this way, then the rest follows logically. Here our definitions differ, which is perhaps the heart of our disagreement. I consider a person to be a system of semi-stable structures (neurons or computing hardware such as a processor + memory, or an FPGA, etc), sending signals between them, some of these signals transduced from outside the system. And to recap, I assign a nontrivial probability to the idea that the relevant level of structure are these elements such as neurons, with the gradual cycling of the underlying structures (molecules) being irrelevant. Further, just as having similar memories doesn't allow one to have the experiences of another by my definition, a lack of memories doesn't necessarily stop you from having those experiences. As long as the change in structure (which resulted in total loss of memory and arbitrary change in personality) isn't too large - considering the sizes of spines and
 synapses compared to neurons this seems possible - then I would say the person hasn't died, as those same structures will continue to receive signals. 
To me the OM perspective, as you've laid it out, seems to suggest that an extra-physical observer steps outside the universe, searches it for all systems that have the memory of it's current and past states, and then steps in to inhabit those systems/minds, even when such systems lack any causal relation. While I don't consider that impossible, it seems nontrivial to assume that a person can expect to experience only such OMs; that as only such OMs have the memory of state A1, a mind in state A1 can expect to continue only as such OMs. We also would have to consider the possibility that the mind in state AI should expect to continue life as any OM, or as no OM. 
--- On Sat, 12/5/09, John McNamara <> wrote:
- - - - -
sowhat happened ?Is there 1,2,3 or more 'self's in existence here ?
if 1 when did it die ?did it die more than once ?The collection of computational structures that is person 1 is destroyed and disbanded , the little bits of cortex and subcortical regions no longer receiving signals, nor being in any state to receive signals. This happens when the machine fails, or when it scanned mind 1, if the scanning scattered the original structure (I'm a little unclear on the details of the scenario). 
2 dies similarly when it's structures are destroyed and disbanded. If it hadn't been destroyed it would have memories (configurations of computing structure) of being person 1 up until the uploading, just as person 1 had those same memories (configurations). 
3 is a collection of computing structure that "wakes up" (like 2) with the same batch of memories, and is sent signals from the VR simulation. When mind 3 is stopped from running (dies in the VR world?), we might call it death, or stasis, etc. If the structures of mind 3 are preserved and the mind is "started up" again at some future time, then signals will once again flow into and through those same structures. 
With a question of being the same person, it feels like one can just apply a definition and see what that definition tells them, each yes or no meaning something a little different. But by what seems to be a common definition of "being you" (addressed to person 1 before the upload), they are all "you", except in that 2 and 3 are structures of different computing matter, though they would have identical memories. 1 does not live on as 2 or 3, as it would be impossible in an information theoretic sense for the signals of the others (for certain 3 anyway) to reach the systems and structures of 1. In this definition of the self, similar experiences, personalities and memories are quite tangential to the expectation of further experience. 
I don't believe that these ideas and definitions of a person that I'm using are guaranteed to be the most accurate, I could be quite wrong. My main point is only that there is a strong case to be made for their possibility/probability, such that those who wish to experience the future should be very cautious in these matters.
-Frank Adamek 


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