Friday, October 8, 2010

Cryonics Comic Relief - Uploading

Robert Ettinger has been attempting to make a point-by-point argument, (on Cold Filter and Cryonet), against the probability of uploading being successful. I happen to agree with Mr. Ettinger, that copies can never be the original, but that doesn't seem to matter to many cryonicists / transhumanists. For many years, I thought the goal of uploading was for an individual to live on, but it only recently dawned on me that I've been mistaken. It seems the majority of the transhumanists would be happy if a mere copy of themselves "lived" on, after they were dead. Personally, I think, with extremely rare exceptions, future generations would find copies of the thinking patterns of dead people, programmed into computers unnecessary, and the associated narcissism laughable.

This morning, Mr. Ettinger writes:
"Reason 3. Time intervals in the computer and in life...

Now, assume the original lives on, while his simulation is being run on the computer. The simulation "lives" like a film with frames at non-zero intervals. The original lives in some fashion not presently understood--possibly in a continuous fashion with no gaps, or possibly jumping each time to an appreciably different state with nothing in between. Even in the latter case, however, it is exceedingly unlikely that the intervals between successive states would be the same for the original and for the simulation. Hence, it seems to me, the simulation cannot be faithful to the original. Again, we can't know yet how important the differences may be, but there will surely be differences."

Suspended Animation's Mathew Sullivan, responds with:
"At a basic level, the "simulation" is nothing more than a tool...
My car does not function exactly as me and it does not even have legs, but it can get me to work more efficiently than I can by jogging."

Huh? How is that supposed to be an argument for uploading? The simulation is a "tool" for what? I don't get it.

Luke Parrish responds to one of Mr. Ettinger's arguments with:
"Ultimately, saying that the paper with a complete programmatic description (combined, presumably at some point with a turing machine which simulates it) is not a hydrogen atom is simply begging the question. How do you know it is not a hydrogen atom? What property is essential to our definition of hydrogen atoms which this lacks?"

Huh? again. It lacks being a real hydrogen item, that's what it lacks. A description, or simulation of a hydrogen atom, written in code in a computer, is exactly that...a description or simulation, not the original, or even a hydrogen atom, at all. Later on, in the discussion, Luke admits the computerized simulation of the hydrogen atom is a hydrogen atom "in abstract form," but still calls it "the atom," something Mr. Ettinger seems to find as puzzling as I.

To sum up my thinking about these exchanges, my question is:
If Luke programs a perfect copy of a bear and its environment, into his computer, and his virtual bear takes a virtual crap in the virtual woods, does Luke smell it?

As I've always said, if nothing else, the cryonics forums are good for cheap entertainment. (Not referring to Mr. Ettinger's remarks, but to the responses to those remarks.)

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