Is uploading feasible?

Michael Fragassi mfragass at
Wed Dec 8 15:52:35 EST 1993

In <pete.755296558 at> pete at (Peter Alexander Merel) writes:

>adh at rambla.Sun.COM (Sandwich Maker) writes:
>>"Ah, but then where will your 'identity' reside? In the whole system, or just
>>"in the 'original' parts? If it is in the whole system, then would you be 
>>"satisfied with the slow neuron-by-neuron replacement scheme envisaged by,
>>"among others, the original poster?

>>my identity would not include new peripherals any more than it does my
>>hand, which cannot think.

>It's not quite so clear-cut, methinks. If your hand doesn't think, then
>how about the nerves that relay the brain's signals to and from that hand?
>The nerves in the motor centres of your brain that sense and control your
>hand? If your hand isn't part of your identity, then can you tell me, "this 
>neuron here, that's part of me, but this other neuron over here, that it's 
>hooked up to, isn't."? Where do you draw the line?

Focusing upon the quote: 

"If your hand doesn't think, then how about the nerves that relay the 
brain's signals to and from that hand?"

	Define "thinks".

	Does "thinks" equal "the transmission of action potentials"?

	Is the transmission of action potentials from any set of neurons
diagnostic for "thinking", or for consciousness?  That is, is it necessary [at
least in the forms of life such as we are] and is it sufficient, such that the
presence of active populations of neurons warrants the "diagnosis" of

	This is not to deny that the hand is in some sense "part of your
identity", but is it part of your consciousness?

	A similar question would be, "is the presence of activity in
recurrent or 're-entrant' feedback loops, whereby one population of neurons
receives signals from and sends signals back to another population, equivalent 
to introspection?" 

Mike Fragassi              mfragass at 
Psychology & Cognitive Science Program, Indiana University

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