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Body+Brain emulation transition method dilemma


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Poll: What would you do? (15 member(s) have cast votes)

You are abducted by a top secret research organization. They offer you four choices. Which would you choose?

  1. Gradual transfer of brain patterns to a new and improved you. You are free to go as your new you, with no money. (8 votes [53.33%])

    Percentage of vote: 53.33%

  2. Instant transfer of brain patterns to a new and improved you + you get instantly vaporized. You are free to go as your new you, with $1,000,000 in cash. (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  3. Instant transfer of brain patterns to a new and improved you + 3 second pause + you get shot in the ventricle with a rifle. You are free to go as your new you, with $1,000,000,000 transfered to a series of secure offshore bank accounts. (6 votes [40.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 40.00%

  4. Deny that you only have three choices, only to get proven right by getting shot in the head. (1 votes [6.67%])

    Percentage of vote: 6.67%

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#61 Vgamer1

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 04:05 AM

But really you should realize that I explained how the patternist view of mind would work if there were an afterlife. There would be one mind in afterlife-world, and one mind on Earth, two patterns - patternism robustly handles the case of an afterlife. Of course you are right that if there is an afterlife it is important.


I see what you are saying, but then I don't see how this would allow for me to survive my death in the case of there being a replica of me.

#62 exapted

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 04:11 AM

By the way, there is evidence in cognitive science that directly supports the patternist view of mind, and refutes (not 100% of course) mind-body dualism. The book Consciousness Explained by Daniel Dennett does the best job of that. That was one of the most impressive books I've ever read on consciousness. Of course many people say that Dr. Dennett "explains away" consciousness. I think he simply didn't include a mathematical definition of intelligence or conscious awareness. For that, I recommend reading about Ben Goertzel's patternist philosophy of mind. You can check out his essay here: Ben Goertzel's philosophy of mind, or you can check out his book. I think it's called Patterns of Awareness (but I haven't read that one).

#63 exapted

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 04:20 AM

But really you should realize that I explained how the patternist view of mind would work if there were an afterlife. There would be one mind in afterlife-world, and one mind on Earth, two patterns - patternism robustly handles the case of an afterlife. Of course you are right that if there is an afterlife it is important.


I see what you are saying, but then I don't see how this would allow for me to survive my death in the case of there being a replica of me.

Well at least one of your "mind children" would survive your death on Earth. But the "mind child" on earth wouldn't have a ticket to the afterlife, and that could be bad. And the "mind child" in afterlife-world might be pissed about losing the opportunity to live longer on Earth before arriving in the afterlife-world.

You're right this could be problematic.

But the burden of proof is on you to explain why the afterlife should be assigned a non-negligible probability. Just because we have a proposition doesn't mean we must prove the negation of it before ignoring it. So if we consider the proposition "X", then disbelieving "X" does not imply belief in "not X". We could skip that step and simply decide whether or not "X" is assigned a non-negligible probability. If it is assigned a negligible probability, then it's similar to the case where some stranger says "you have a tumor the size of my fist in your brain" - I would ignore (assign negligible probability to) such a statement, even though the consequences of it being true would be very significant.

And that to me is what it means to say "there is no god". The proposition "there is a god" is assigned a negligible probability, so I claim that it is "false". To me, there is no god, because it is not included in my point of view. But I suppose it would be more accurate to say that it is not true that there is a god. But I don't think colloquial language can properly express agnostic atheism.

Edited by exapted, 16 October 2009 - 04:30 AM.


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#64 Vgamer1

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 04:45 AM

But the burden of proof is on you to explain why the afterlife should be assigned a non-negligible probability. Just because we have a proposition doesn't mean we must prove the negation of it before ignoring it. So if we consider the proposition "X", then disbelieving "X" does not imply belief in "not X". We could skip that step and simply decide whether or not "X" is assigned a non-negligible probability. If it is assigned a negligible probability, then it's similar to the case where some stranger says "you have a tumor the size of my fist in your brain" - I would ignore (assign negligible probability to) such a statement, even though the consequences of it being true would be very significant.


My proof for my reasoning is simple: I do not know what will occur to me after my death, therefore an afterlife is a distinct possibility. I understand the reasoning for why oblivion would be more likely. When you die the stuff that makes up your existence sort of "decompiles" if you will. What I'm arguing for is possibilities that would prevent that. For example, if you buy simulation theory, then there is a distinct possibility for the creators of our simulation to "save" us. I don't know why or if they would. I'm not really sure I buy simulation theory. But simulation theorist seem to think there is a high probability that we are living in a simulation. Does this make an afterlife more probable? Maybe.

Could you maybe explain to me why the afterlife should be assigned a negligible probability? My point is simply that we can't know.

#65 exapted

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 08:41 AM

Could you maybe explain to me why the afterlife should be assigned a negligible probability? My point is simply that we can't know.


I'm not sure if I give the proposition of an afterlife a 1% probability. But I think whatever chance of an afterlife we have, it is not going to change our research priorities right now at all. And it does not affect my views on uploading, for reasons you will see at the bottom.

1) The mind requires a body, the human body evolved itself an electrochemical computer. Intelligence, to me, means that which operates. We operate in our own particular way in the universe.
2) There is no evidence of an afterlife. If there is one, and someone has guessed what it's like - that's luck. But I don't claim we have discovered/created everything we are going to discover/create. I think the probability that we are close to discovering everything in our particular "reference class" is high. You can read about the "Doomsday Argument" if you're interested in the previous sentence. But I'm not sure about any of that.
3) I am confident that all of the criteria I have for a mind is fulfilled from my point of view by a system. I could go into this but it would take a long time.
4) I am aware of the illusive nature of the mind. I have read Nietzsche, Dennett, Blackmore, and other related authors, and I believe that illusions are quite intrinsic to what we call consciousness. Illusions are more efficient than full rational representations.
5) I don't think birds are magic, so I don't think consciousness is non-physical. All of the features I ascribe to intelligence and consciousness seem quite Turing Computable, including the part of my consciousness that says "I'm not just a pattern". Although intuitively it may feel confusing at times, I am able to understand logical definitions of consciousness and intelligence well enough to know that what we call consciousness, what we mean when we say "consciousness", is Turing Computable. It would be a surprise if evolution used some special non-physical feature of the universe to communicate with heaven. Essentially, believing in an afterlife is similar to believing in god or an obnoxious computer scientist.
6) I do agree that we could be living in a simulation, but I think there are some holes in that idea. Why would a super-intelligence simulate us? Why wouldn't they start something bigger, or start us off with something better? I'm not sure if our kind of universe seems like something that would be simulated. And I'm not sure it is even rational to assume there are other universes - that's the Self Sampling Assumption (SSA) and it's a good strategy in our universe, but who knows if that keeps working. I think we will be able to answer those questions at some point. I also don't know why super-intelligent beings would be interested in preserving our consciousness. It would make no sense at all. BUT, I agree it is a possibility. That's probably why I give the afterlife maybe a 1% chance.
7) Basically, of all of the things to worry about, this one is very low in priority.
8) Other priorities would be, "What would I risk by not trying it?" or "what if sex is evil and I go to hell?", the list goes on. Can you tell me a reason why any particularly one of such ideas would be of particularly high priority?
9) I should add, I support further brain research before I upload myself.
10) I reason that mind-uploading will be successful. We have the cognitive sciences and philosophers of mind to argue that it will be successful. To say it would not succeed is to posit a sort of permanency of forms, in a world where various intelligent agents have shape-shifted for over a billion years.

Now, I should add that I am mixing probability with logic:
If there is an afterlife, than as far as I know I still want to upload myself. I don't want to move in with the creator if the creator is playing such a game - I doubt there is anything in it for me in such a situation. And I think, if there is an afterlife, I don't know why it would be good, or better than staying on Earth.

#66 exapted

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 09:06 AM

I forgot to add the possibility that the creator or simulator says "you idiot, you should have uploaded yourself! now you're not getting into the afterlife!" If the creator was playing games already, then I see nothing more sinister about this than the proposition you mentioned.
Would you assign a non-negligible probability to that one?

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#67 exapted

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 11:12 AM

And one more thing. I assign either a negligible or non-negligible probability to everything initially. Negligible probability is like if you had to assign a probability to a proposition randomly chosen from the largest set of mutually exclusive propositions spoken for the past 100 years about death, anywhere. There is some n to divide 1 over.

Edited by exapted, 16 October 2009 - 11:19 AM.


#68 Vgamer1

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 02:25 PM

Let me start by saying that the whole afterlife thing is not a requirement of my argument. It just seems like a big hole in patternism to have to assume that there is no afterlife even if you believe there is only a 1% chance of an afterlife.

5) I don't think birds are magic, so I don't think consciousness is non-physical. All of the features I ascribe to intelligence and consciousness seem quite Turing Computable, including the part of my consciousness that says "I'm not just a pattern". Although intuitively it may feel confusing at times, I am able to understand logical definitions of consciousness and intelligence well enough to know that what we call consciousness, what we mean when we say "consciousness", is Turing Computable. It would be a surprise if evolution used some special non-physical feature of the universe to communicate with heaven. Essentially, believing in an afterlife is similar to believing in god or an obnoxious computer scientist.


I agree that consciousness is turing compatible. I'm also not a dualist. This has nothing to do with my argument.

10) I reason that mind-uploading will be successful. We have the cognitive sciences and philosophers of mind to argue that it will be successful. To say it would not succeed is to posit a sort of permanency of forms, in a world where various intelligent agents have shape-shifted for over a billion years.


I believe it can be successful. The way that I would go about uploading is by gradually replacing parts of my brain with synthetic ones. This may not be a "true" upload, but it will accomplish the same thing without the same risk. There is still risk in this. For example, if we replaced 7/8 of my brain at once, that could be problematic.

Now, I should add that I am mixing probability with logic:
If there is an afterlife, than as far as I know I still want to upload myself. I don't want to move in with the creator if the creator is playing such a game - I doubt there is anything in it for me in such a situation. And I think, if there is an afterlife, I don't know why it would be good, or better than staying on Earth.


I'm not saying we should try to play any games with our creators (if they even exist). My point is only that we do not know what lies after death. I'm not saying anything about the comparative goodness of an afterlife versus this life. Even if there was no afterlife, I would not undertake a traditional upload. I was just trying an avenue to show you a hole in patternism.

Let me try another way. Or rather, let me ask a question. Let's imagine we have another omnipotent being. Mr. Omnipotent knows the future so he knows what you will be like 1 minute from now, 1 day from now, 10 years from now, etc. All of those instances would be considered continuations of your present self, correct? So if Mr. Omnipotent decides to kill you.... in my eyes you would be dead. But then if he creates 10-year-from now you.... in your eyes.... you would be alive again? Correct? Or no?

Edited by Vgamer1, 16 October 2009 - 02:28 PM.


#69 eternaltraveler

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 04:36 PM

Yes of course you live again. Temporal continuity is no more a requirement than spacial.

Yes it is possible to think of a thought experiment where patternism doesn't work. I don't think you've done that. A better one would be referencing some magic non physical process that our consciousness operates under like a soul. Just because one can think of some extraordinary situation where patternism wouldn't fit doesn't do anything to say what is likely. Do you subscribe to the theory of intelligent falling because there is a non zero probability it describes how gravity works?

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#70 Lazarus Long

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 05:30 PM

Yes of course you live again. Temporal continuity is no more a requirement than spacial.

Yes it is possible to think of a thought experiment where patternism doesn't work. I don't think you've done that. A better one would be referencing some magic non physical process that our consciousness operates under like a soul. Just because one can think of some extraordinary situation where patternism wouldn't fit doesn't do anything to say what is likely. Do you subscribe to the theory of intelligent falling because there is a non zero probability it describes how gravity works?


Actually from a logical perspective the concept of a soul is still a potentially "paternist" proposal, it is merely predicated on coexistence with an alternate realm of reality.

The core issue is are 'you' the 'body,' the 'pattern,' or somehow dependent on both simultaneously such that neither is replaceable.

I tend to see it as a modification of that last proposition. The pattern is not really alive unless downloaded into a body (not necessarily biological) such that it is capable of real time interactivity with reality. This however might still be true under the simulation scenario.

The pattern while stored in stasis might not be considered alive but it should also no be considered 'dead' since it would be recoverable.

As for the replicated me scenario that is just too bad, logically we are all alive and all coexist and all have the same right to be 'me'. However I suspect such a sentient co-located being would also develop a (super) consciousness capable of unifying its experience the way an insect's compound eye can create a single image for its brain even though the individual experience of each body would be unique to itself so would the joined experience to a unified super-consciousness possessed by the originator pattern once capable of connecting the (sub)-consciouses of itself.

#71 Lazarus Long

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 05:37 PM

BTW I chose the more courageous option of witnessing my death because even more important I would have that additional information uploaded to the shared super-consciousness model I just described. This would even allow my immortal self to know the experience of death and empathy for the victim and righteous rage at the murder AND sense of injustice for the super consciousneess that brings the murderer to court convicting them, and imposing a penalty of never being allowed the path to immortality for their crime, using the billion dollar wealth I received.

#72 Vgamer1

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 05:42 PM

Yes of course you live again. Temporal continuity is no more a requirement than spacial.


Then I don't really see how to a patternist a single identity is ever preserved over time. Can you explain that a bit more?

#73 Lazarus Long

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 06:02 PM

Yes of course you live again. Temporal continuity is no more a requirement than spacial.


Then I don't really see how to a patternist a single identity is ever preserved over time. Can you explain that a bit more?


As a patternist, and as I just got done suggesting "a single identity" is not logically requisite but more important, is an evolving principle that grows into a superconsiousness posessing real time multiple physical expressions. The "pattern is the mind" and the mind as "being" grows in complexity with time and as the supporting substrate provides the computation capablility for it to function at a continuously evolving level of complexity.

#74 Vgamer1

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 06:12 PM

As a patternist, and as I just got done suggesting "a single identity" is not logically requisite but more important, is an evolving principle that grows into a superconsiousness posessing real time multiple physical expressions. The "pattern is the mind" and the mind as "being" grows in complexity with time and as the supporting substrate provides the computation capablility for it to function at a continuously evolving level of complexity.


But what is the criteria for an identity to be preserved?

Let's say there are multiple ways my consciousness could evolve depending on my choices and the affects of my environment. Then, going back to my example of an omnipotent being creating a 10-year-older version of you... what if the being created multiple 10-year-older versions of you - since there are multiple ways you could have turned out. Which one would you be then? All of them? Certainly you wouldn't have POV of all of them. It's my belief that you would have POV through none of them. You would be dead already.

Edited by Vgamer1, 16 October 2009 - 06:15 PM.


#75 eternaltraveler

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 07:45 PM

However I suspect such a sentient co-located being would also develop a (super) consciousness capable of unifying its experience the way an insect's compound eye can create a single image for its brain even though the individual experience of each body would be unique to itself so would the joined experience to a unified super-consciousness possessed by the originator pattern once capable of connecting the (sub)-consciouses of itself.


just how the heck would a super consciousness arise automatically? that doesn't make any sense. Are you presupposing some kind of technological link would be established between the two units? Or are you assuming it would just happen by magic? ;)

Nice to see you around again Laz.

Edited by eternaltraveler, 16 October 2009 - 07:52 PM.


#76 eternaltraveler

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 07:50 PM

Yes of course you live again. Temporal continuity is no more a requirement than spacial.


Then I don't really see how to a patternist a single identity is ever preserved over time. Can you explain that a bit more?


identity is by no means a static concept. It is a dynamic concept. Indeed a static pattern would be in total stasis (which is hopefully close to what someone in cryo suspension is undergoing). It is by the program that is us going through it's computations that identity or any quale is expressed; change is required

Edited by eternaltraveler, 16 October 2009 - 07:53 PM.


#77 eternaltraveler

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 07:51 PM

rage at the murder


sounds more like aggravated assault to me rather than murder.

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#78 eternaltraveler

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 08:06 PM

Ben Goertzel's philosophy of mind


eh. Goertzel's assignment of some degree of consciousness or qualia (however minute) to rocks and single atoms is rather silly. It seems to be something around the lines of "consciousness is mysterious, therefore it must be a fundamental property of everything in the universe on a fundamental level because I can't explain it right now". Strikes me as a cop out (although this was written quite some time ago, I wonder if he still thinks this way).

You almost certainly need a program running whose purpose is designed to generate qualia and consciousness (some kind of self modeling program or something). I have heard no reasonable explanation as too why inanimate objects and even patterns not designed by evolution to have phenomenal experience would exhibit such characteristics.

Edited by eternaltraveler, 16 October 2009 - 08:14 PM.


#79 Lazarus Long

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 08:14 PM

rage at the murder


sounds more like aggravated assault to me rather than murder.



Tell me that AFTER you get shot, die, and witness it, remembering both states as true experiential memory, ;)

However, denying a murderer access to immortality is as close to capital punishment as I think can be validated in a Type 1 civilization.

#80 Lazarus Long

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 08:37 PM

However I suspect such a sentient co-located being would also develop a (super) consciousness capable of unifying its experience the way an insect's compound eye can create a single image for its brain even though the individual experience of each body would be unique to itself so would the joined experience to a unified super-consciousness possessed by the originator pattern once capable of connecting the (sub)-consciouses of itself.


just how the heck would a super consciousness arise automatically? that doesn't make any sense. Are you presupposing some kind of technological link would be established between the two units? Or are you assuming it would just happen by magic? ;)

Nice to see you around again Laz.


It's good to be around, even if only for a day; I teach on weekends. Friday is actually turning into a sort of day off but homework of all kinds is being ignored at the moment just to answer you ;)

Actually it is logically implicit that any technology capable of up & downloading a consciousness also possesses the ability to create real time, speed of light communication between brains in an expanded web based neural net. This is actually how I think the so called singularity (small s) will evolve as we slowly but surely develop a real world super-conscience of voluntarily merged minds from different individuals, as well as the possibility of the multi-manifested individual minds. Each divergent pattern merges its experience into a cumulative whole.

#81 eternaltraveler

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 09:12 PM

Actually it is logically implicit that any technology capable of up & downloading a consciousness also possess the ability to create real time at eh speed of light communication between brains in an expanded web based neural net.


ah ok. So you are talking about a technological means. I was beginning to worry that in your time away you started believing in magic. Whew ;)

I don't disagree with this assumption, however I think the purpose of this thought experiment here involves what happens if there is replication but no communication between replicated minds.

Edited by eternaltraveler, 16 October 2009 - 09:13 PM.


#82 Lazarus Long

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 09:51 PM

Actually it is logically implicit that any technology capable of up & downloading a consciousness also possess the ability to create real time at eh speed of light communication between brains in an expanded web based neural net.


ah ok. So you are talking about a technological means. I was beginning to worry that in your time away you started believing in magic. Whew ;)

I don't disagree with this assumption, however I think the purpose of this thought experiment here involves what happens if there is replication but no communication between replicated minds.



The thought experiment has illogical constraints then but given even the condition you impose, the survivors would all simply go their separate ways and then merge memory during upload phase only. Again if you have the uploading ability then this step is impossible not to coexist, it is no different than merging two documents in principle.

The idea is not new. This was the process by which Cylons replicated through the Resurrection Ship in BSG.2

Also consider this analogous to how the Dalai Lama is alleged to experience reality.

VGamer essentially Patternists see the mind as a cumulated set of self aware information, manifested or operating through, and stored in a body but the information is in principle translatable to other substrates. Not all those substrates allow for real time "living" but then again, they also can be understood to stave off death, because you aren't quite dead either. Consider it more a form of "stasis" and the stored information lasts as long as the material it is contained in. However move the information to a body, whether biological or mechanical, which is capable of sensory perception and interaction with the real world and the consciousness simply perceives itself as a continuous self aware consciousness. How the outside or second perceiver sees it is actually irrelevant, what matters is the subjective perception of "continuity of being." That is all you really are anyway.

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#83 eternaltraveler

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 10:19 PM

How the outside or second perceiver sees it is actually irrelevant, what matters is the subjective perception of "continuity of being." That is all you really are anyway.


this sums it up rather succinctly

#84 exapted

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 11:34 PM

Ben Goertzel's philosophy of mind


eh. Goertzel's assignment of some degree of consciousness or qualia (however minute) to rocks and single atoms is rather silly. It seems to be something around the lines of "consciousness is mysterious, therefore it must be a fundamental property of everything in the universe on a fundamental level because I can't explain it right now". Strikes me as a cop out (although this was written quite some time ago, I wonder if he still thinks this way).

You almost certainly need a program running whose purpose is designed to generate qualia and consciousness (some kind of self modeling program or something). I have heard no reasonable explanation as too why inanimate objects and even patterns not designed by evolution to have phenomenal experience would exhibit such characteristics.

A mathematical definition of conscious awareness should logically take everything into account. The basic idea is that everything we know thus far has come into relation with our consciousness, from quark to atom to human. The answer to the question of "why do we experience?" should logically explain how patterns work, from atoms to neurons, all the way up to people and maybe beyond. Anything less would be incomplete.

Do you think a mathematical definition of intelligence should include rocks and atoms? Rocks are capable of a rudimentary form of 'measurement'. Atoms are too. I propose that they could be described in terms of consciousness too, if we can find a mathematical panpsychist definition of consciousness.

We might say that a pattern evolved, which became us. Actually that pattern includes the big bang, physics, biology, society, and every atom that was ever conditioned to us.

Obviously human consciousness is a lot more complex than rock behavior. We have these crazy ideas like "self" and "free will" which obviously rocks don't have. But a detailed theory of conscious awareness should eventually be able to take microscopic events into account, because everything we know is conditioned on conscious awareness.

#85 exapted

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 11:47 PM

Ben Goertzel's philosophy of mind

You almost certainly need a program running whose purpose is designed to generate qualia and consciousness (some kind of self modeling program or something). I have heard no reasonable explanation as too why inanimate objects and even patterns not designed by evolution to have phenomenal experience would exhibit such characteristics.

I basically agree with that. But I think we should just change our definition of qualia and consciousness so that it can explain or at least hook in to microscopic patterns.

#86 exapted

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 11:52 PM

Let me try another way. Or rather, let me ask a question. Let's imagine we have another omnipotent being. Mr. Omnipotent knows the future so he knows what you will be like 1 minute from now, 1 day from now, 10 years from now, etc. All of those instances would be considered continuations of your present self, correct? So if Mr. Omnipotent decides to kill you.... in my eyes you would be dead. But then if he creates 10-year-from now you.... in your eyes.... you would be alive again? Correct? Or no?

Sure. Or it depends on your definition. My only idea is that a mind is a pattern.

Personally, I think identity is about belief. If everyone believes some entity X has label Y, and this belief is stable, then to me X has the identity Y.

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#87 exapted

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Posted 17 October 2009 - 12:00 AM

Let me start by saying that the whole afterlife thing is not a requirement of my argument. It just seems like a big hole in patternism to have to assume that there is no afterlife even if you believe there is only a 1% chance of an afterlife.

First of all, the hole in patternism you are talking about is not a logical hole. Patternism seems to hold in the case of an afterlife too. It's just that the outcome would not be very nice.

There are actually lots of logical holes in everything. Atheists have the hole that they don't know 100% that there is no god, because it's pretty hard to prove a negative. Theists have the hole that they don't know if god is actually evil and will send them to hell for being good. What if gradual transfer of consciousness actually causes you to lose your place in the afterlife? There are so many holes in everything, and no rules about which ones should get priority. The kind of knowledge that you seem to be looking for is a fallacy. Nothing is 100%.




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