Is uploading feasible?

Peter Alexander Merel pete at extro.ucc.su.OZ.AU
Wed Dec 1 16:25:27 EST 1993


adh at rambla.Sun.COM (Sandwich Maker) writes:

>that's like saying your car is new because you changed the oil.
>you *don't* copy your neurons.  the *only* neurons that you can
>regrow are your olfactory bulbs.

As I understand it, regular cell metabolism replaces every molecule over a 
seven year period, even in neurons. 

>>ii)  Identity resides in the pattern of your memories; or, 
>iv)   identity resides in the pattern of your brain, physical and
>	   chemical.

Pattern of memories, pattern of brain, what's the difference?

>i maintain that *i* am defined by the physical organization and
>functioning of my neurons.  the chemical processes that give rise to
>my thoughts, memories, and consciousness are a consequence of that.
>uploading could create a copy of the *logical* organization and
>function, but it's still only a copy, and you've left the original
>me behind.

You're implying that there are processes at work in human consciousness 
that are computationally infeasible to implement with other hardware than 
standard human neurons. I guess the problem here comes down to this: 

Is it feasible to simulate a human neuron as a finite state automaton,
or are there some sorts of analog/quantum processes at work in a neuron's 
metabolism that cannot be effectively implemented in a digital machine?

What we do know makes a neuron sound like a finite state machine, and 
computational models based upon that supposition have demonstrated some
remarkable adaptive and predictive properties, including general pattern 
recognition and simple sorts of memory.

However we don't know whether human memory and cognitive faculties reside 
solely in the mechanisms we've modeled -  do we?

>>I have no argument with adherents of any or all of these beliefs; I simply
>>suggest that only the suicidal, and adherents of belief (i), would refuse 
>>to upload when no alternative means of survival is presented.

>maybe so, but *i'm* me, dammit, and i won't put the gun to my head and
>pull the trigger just cause something else is running around with my
>memories and my personality and thinking it's me too.

I'm not suggesting you do so, now or later. I think most uploading
adherents envision a gradual transformation from flesh to cybernetics,
smoothly augmenting and enlarging the original person until it feels
comfortable that its experience in its new medium is commensurable with
its experience in the old.  You should be able to judge for yourself before 
you leave flesh behind.

-- 
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