Saturday, October 16, 2010

One (Hopefully) Last Comment on Uploading

When I first ventured into cryonics, (quite accidentally...I needed a job, SA had an advertisement with the word "perfusion" in it, and their facility just happened to be located near my home), I was acquainted with the notion of "uploading." The idea was presented to me as a method of exending one's life. Being mostly interested in the hypothermic medical techniques that apply to cryonics, and not accepting that one would ever be able to load one's OWN awareness into a machine, (or even another brain, or synthetic version of a brain), I didn't really pay much attention to uploading.

Later, it occurred to me that most of the uploaders were discussing making COPIES of themselves, and some of them thought the copies would actually be the same person as the original, something I found a little too abstract. If I was on my deathbed, and there were a dozen copies of me in the room, I would still be dying. My copies might think they were me, but they never would actually BE me, and once I took my last breath, the real me would still be dead.

These discussions took an even stranger turn, when some of the uploaders discussed existing in some sort of simulation, such as in digital form in a computer. To me, it seemed to be the ultimate in delusional thinking and narcissism. If I was able to upload my personality and memories into a machine, it would still NOT be "me," and the real me would still die at some point not too far in the future, relatively speaking.

I've rarely commented on uploading, until recently, when Cold Filter made the transformation from a cryonics forum, to an uploading forum, and the conversation got really ridiculous, with one CF member insisting a drawing of an hydrogen atom, on a piece of paper, is a REAL hydrogen atom. At that point, it became difficult for me to keep a straight face, and impossible to refrain from commenting.

Though I've read many articles and Internet posts on uploading, I never, NOT EVER, saw even one person describe it as a method to leave memories behind for loved ones...until yesterday. Every word I read, prior to that, seemed, to me, to be nothing more than narcissism. "Fundie" wrote how nice it would be to "...have some remnant copy of the brains of (his) grandparents and other departed loved ones, with which he could interact." I think that's a lovely sentiment, I truly do. I was blessed enough to know my grandparents, and even most of my great-grandparents, very well. In fact, three of my grandparents only recently died, (when I was 48 - 50), so even my youngest child knew them. One of my great-grandparents lived until I was 29, and my daughter, his great-great granddaughter, was six. I wasn't just acquainted with these people; I spent time with them; I knew and loved them. It was one of the great tragedies of my life, when my favorite grandparent, (my mother's mother), died at the age of 69, and I would do anything to have been able to interact with even a copy of her, these last 24 years.

With that said, a copy of her would not be her, any more than her diaries and photos, (things I regularly enjoy), are her. A copy, or simulation, of my grandmother would not be my grandmother, even if it was something I could hug. SHE, (my REAL grandmother), would not be feeling my love for her, and I would know that.

Off and on, for the past decade, or so, I've researched my family tree, and I have a lot of information about relatives who died long before I was born. While there are a few characters I would certainly like to meet, (maybe even if it was just a simulation), just how much time would I be willing to spend with the "dead relatives"? Other than the ones I actually grew up with, probably not much. Of my currently living relatives, I have my parents and step-parents, whom I love as parents. I have three children of my own, a beloved stepson and one grandson, so far. I have five half-siblings, an assortment of step-siblings, and nine nieces and nephews, (a number sure to increase, since some of my half-siblings are much younger than I). I have 11 living aunts and uncles, and 14 first cousins, all who have spouses and children of their own. I love these people and I don't have time to spend with most of them. There are currently 599 people in my family tree, on While it's fun to do the research, and to learn the history of some of these people, why would I drag out a simulation of a great-great grandparent I never even met, when I don't have enough time to spread out amongst my living relatives, all of whom I love very much. I probably wouldn't.

Though I found "Fundie's" argument for uploading his personality and memories touching, I think it strayed far from the mainstream uploaders. As I already stated, most uploaders never mention anyone other than themselves, or how they might enjoy living in some virtual world, where they could create simulations of their every desire coming true, ala Edgar Swank. Then, there's Mathew Sullivan, who now seems to want nothing more than a servant, who can anticipate his every need/desire.

I can't imagine that anyone past my grandchildren, will be interested in me, as they will have their own lives and a wealth of LIVING relatives. On a humorous note, I CAN imagine being a computer, sitting around on a desk, getting dusty. and whining about how the great-great-great-grandkids have no interest in me. ;)

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