Theory of mind - on the computer. a bit funny (or not)
My other/better half did work in an office where IT would come into the main floor and say "sorry everyone, we've had a server crash so you'll all have to restart your computers" and half the office just pressed the button on the monitor.
But I think we seem to think of "us" as being a minute speck inside the brain. Not a homunculous, exactly, but not distributed. Hence why it's easy to talk of "my visual cortex is telling me" and "my pre-frontal lobe is saying..." and so on. When really, these are you, and if you really want to push a more distributed idea of you, then your nervous system is, your senses are. I mean, you stab yourself in the arm, you feel pain in your arm right? Even thought that's juts an illusion and it's all your brain telling you (see how easy it is to do this?) that it's in your arm. Or is it? As nerves do actually connect there and it's all physically wired up...
This way, madness lies.
Though... this has bugged me recently about mind uploading. How, exactly, do the expect to scan the brain thoroughly enough to do this? In Caprica they get around it by reconstructing people's personalities and memories basically from their presence on the internet and download that into a conscious entity, but do people expect magic to do this? We're talking about a highly detailed and highly dynamic system here - which is why I doubt cryonics will ever work, you can keep some of the information, but you completely lose that dynamic aspect by freezing people. Now, I don't doubt that we'll have the computational power to simulate enough neurons to theoretically make the piece of digital meat needed, but uploading someone else into it? Do people honestly think CT and MRI are going to be able to do that? I suppose that's the magic step, and I'm not talking Clarke's Third Law magic, either.
This type of stuff fucks up my mind when I try to think about it for too long. I guess that we just won't know until we advance far enough to know.
That's what Dennett called the Cartesian theater. And mind uploading (whatever that means) is definitely not going to be done with fMRI or CT -- what we need is a form of single neuron imaging (SNI) that doesn't damage the brain in the process of scanning it.
I was goign to say what Nebby said - but without the knowledge base. You would have to understand each and every neuron AND each chemical process in place to "upload" a brain. WE don't know what memories are, where they are, how they are made, how they are retrieved, why they get lost, if they are "really lost" or just "touch point access lost". The amount of information we would have to "decode" to actually make ADK feel anything like ADK when we "turned him on" is unbelievably complex.
And, i'm still dubious that you could upload your brain onto a robot and think "i am still me", cause it would FEEL wrong. On the other hand, I bump my fat butt into things, cause i "fell" like i did 50 lbs ago.
perception is a strange critter...
The "me" that encompasses a body and the "me" that is independent of that is a very good point. I mean, contrast the standard Turing Test where everything is conducted via a text terminal and the Total Turing Test where your AI needs to look and listen, and actually feel objects to make its decisions. Though, so long as you're aware of those two bounds and are clear what you're talking about, I don't think there's much of a problem to say that a computerised "me" is still "me" in a body-independent sense. Otherwise being blinded or paralysed would also cause someone to cease being "them".
Yeah. that's what's the mind fuck of it, for me. If I cut off my arm, "I" have not changed, though I have. What makes "me" "me" didn't go away. i could lose my ability to walk, to talk, even hear, and my brain adapts, but i'm still ME. if i took away my memory, I'm not "ME" anymore, I"m someone else. it's very strange.
That's because what you consider "me" is a product of "Western" (for lack of a better term) culture and philosophy. The individualistic notion of the "self" whose essence is mind is a modern conception. (Read Nikolas Rose for some fascinating stuff on this, esp. Governing the Soul and Inventing Ourselves.) The fact is, "you" in the broader sense have changed if you lose part of your body. See V.S. Ramachandran's work on phantom limbs if you don't believe me. Damasio, is of, course also essential on embodied cognition-style thinking.
Actually, phantom limbs sort of leads to some absolute Fridge Horror when you think about mind uploading to just a computer terminal. Because remember that many of them feel missing limbs contorted in pain? So you wouldn't just need to know stuff about the brain, you'd have to know precisely how this maps onto every single aspect of the body too to build a proper virtual machine.
Yeah, if you screw that up, then you've just created a Mind of Infinite Pain. Of course, you can easily "delete" said mind and try again, but then there are the ethical implications (much like I could "delete" someone with a gun). Embodiment is a major problem in robotics as well -- that's why we have AI that can beat human chess masters but can't walk down to the kitchen and make a damned peanut butter and jelly sandwich. (Though now it could order one from Subway.) Rolf Pfeifer is doing really interesting work in this area -- much more realistic than Yudkowskian fantasies as well. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)
oh man. so if you make a "new" brain, and turn it on for even 10 seconds, it is in a very real way, "alive", and fully new. turning it off would be turning of a distinct life with distinct ideas.
If it's a genuine facsimile of a human brain with subjective experience (or qualia if you want to go there, but I really hate that term), then, yeah, I don't see how "turning off" the brain would be any different than just going out and killing someone, at least in an instantaneous way.
Or what if it happens accidentally?
Speaking of the oddball fantasies, is it just me or are conscious facsimile human brains and super intelligent singularity spawning computers two totally different things. I mean, there's hardly any worry in letting the former "out of the box" is there, since we have 7 billion of those fuckers already.
True, but you don't need to be smart to do some damage.
This discussion is sorta freaky, in that as a 44 year old, i think about what "existence" means more and more. And here you are talking making clones of brains which upon activation are actually "live" in a very real sense, and whic can be turned off with a blink. Tanya on, Tanya off - with no trace of awareness that you were ever 'on'.
It's that simple. And that very ego bashing (pouts). Sometimes i hate being an atheist. ;-)
Why? It's pretty great as long as your death is quick and painless. As Mark Twain (allegedly) said: "I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it." (I'm sure he never really said most of the things he said, though.)
No, I don't particular fear death either. Though I can think of numerous processes that move us from the one case of affairs to the other case of affairs that I am very much shit scared of.
It's an ego thing, not a fear thing. The fact that you will not exist, adn there's no you to even know existed. it's freaky.
of course there wouldn't, and that's what annoying. Non existence is a bitch, man. I want to exist!
Fear isn't about what you will really experience, it's about how you feel in the now, about who you are, and where you will be, duh. ;-)
You say it's a "western" view. YOu can point to a single other culture that does not see the mind and body as somehow separate. Cause i"ve always found that to be an interesting claim, and yet when I talk with people who are of various native American religions, they have the same concept that my head, my ideas, my dreams, my spirit is some kind of "soul" like thing, and the body is what it is. Ancient texts from Egypt talk that way: ideas, thoughts, dreams are all a more 'real' part of us than a hand or a kidney. I have always tended to suspect that this idea of a "self" more critical than the body is universal, not western. Philo was never my strength, but if you include "soul" "spirit" and "essence" as part of the "mind" the decartian dualism seems far more common than just the west.
I should say "modern" conception, that would be more accurate. What I'm talking about is the shift in the view of the self as being defined by its place in a cosmic order to an individualistic, single-mind "self" that occurred during the early modern era. (That's a bit of an oversimplification of course.) Then there are religions like Buddhism, that reject the notion of a "self" entirely as merely an illusion.