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IEET > Rights > Neuroethics > FreeThought > Personhood > PostGender > Life > Access > Enablement > Innovation > Vision > Futurism > Contributors > B. J. Murphy

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Maintaining Physical Continuity While Achieving Digital Immortality


B. J. Murphy
By B. J. Murphy
Ethical Technology

Posted: Jul 10, 2013

During our current technological age of the 21st century, topics like robotics, AI, mind uploading, and indefinite life extension are no longer topics of science-fiction, but rather of science-facts and possibilities. The most common one being heavily debated at the current moment is mind uploading. Once we’re able to artificially replicate the human brain, and then begin uploading ourselves into said artificial brain, will we lose consciousness?

Will we still be ourselves or will we simply create a copy? Is it a risk we’re willing to take?

I love life. And so the prospect of indefinite life extension is very attractive, IMO. Then again, seeing as how I wish to live much longer than my biologically-fixed clock dictates, to simply make a copy of myself to live forever, but not actually myself, just doesn’t cut it. I would never destroy my brain and let someone else be me for me. If I’m to achieve indefinite life extension, then I want to do so with both my physical and functional continuity still in complete operation. Without one, the other is completely irrelevant.

What is physical and functional continuity? Functional continuity is basically the stream of consciousness which makes you…well…you. “Destroying” functional continuity wouldn’t necessarily do anything to you, nor would it remain destroyed, per se. When we’re going through REM sleep every night, our functional continuity fluctuates on and off, only to be completely restored the next morning. Yes, your consciousness before sleep was different from the consciousness you now acquire after sleep, but you remain yourself – you’re still self-aware. The same applies when getting surgery, thus knocked out due to anesthesia. Only this time, your functional continuity is turned completely off. There is no streaming of consciousness. And yet, after the surgery, your functional continuity turns back on, unaffected insofar as you remain self-aware.

So what about physical continuity? Physical continuity is very important – much more important than functional continuity. Physical continuity – using as simple an understanding as possible – is essentially the brain and all of its synaptic operations. To destroy physical continuity would be to destroy the brain. Thus destroying everything, including the functional continuity which comes along with it. Reason being why physical continuity should be highly looked after much more so than functional continuity. You can destroy your functional continuity and still have the chance to regain it so long physical continuity remains intact. The contrary, however, would be the end of yourself in its entirety.

Thus bringing us to our current dilemma of mind uploading. How are we to achieve mind uploading without destroying physical continuity in the process? To simply “download” everything within your brain and upload it into an artificial brain, while functional continuity is being streamed, physical continuity is being replicated, not maintained. Essentially you’d be partaking in a really cool process of cloning. That’s it. Think of Lt Cmdr Data and his brother Lore from the Star Trek universe (ignoring, of course, your cloned self being a maniacal psychopath).

Which brings me to our current understanding of what is known as “Brain Lateralization” – the two cerebral hemispheres of the brain, separated by a longitudinal fissure. In other words, the left and right brain. Both are almost complete replicas to one another. Which we’ve since discovered that, if you’re to destroy one side of the brain, the other side should remain functional, thus maintaining relative normalcy. A great example of this would be now-twenty-six-year-old Christina Santhouse, who suffered from Rasmussen’s encephalitis – a neurological disease which causes seizures and the loss of motor skills. (http://abcn.ws/12nyCtp) Once she began having over 100 seizures a day at such a young age, her and her family decided to take on a radical approach to address this very serious problem – take out the side of the brain causing this disease. The result? She’s now a normal young woman, earning a scholarship to Misericordia University under a speech-language pathology major! (http://bit.ly/171ay4a)

Why is this important? Because, IMO, it paves the way in understanding how to maintain physical continuity while subsequently uploading your mind into an artificial brain. Imagine going through a process of downloading your entire brain and its various synaptic operations – including consciousness, functional continuity. Then you upload it into an artificially designed right hemisphere of the brain. Now let’s say that you have an operation which replaces your right hemisphere of your biological brain for the artificial replica, all while keeping your left hemisphere completely intact. Over time, the right artificial hemisphere would become the dominant hemisphere, especially once your left biological hemisphere dies. So not only would you have then maintained functional continuity, but also physical continuity as well. You would achieve indefinite life extension via “digital immortality”, per se.

This is the only way I can think of which will allow us to achieve both without losing one or the other in the process.


B.J. Murphy is a Technoprogressive Transhumanist activist within the East Coast region of the U.S. He's worked with the asteroid mining company Planetary Resources as a member of their Planetary Community Vanguard, helping campaign funding for the ARKYD 100 Space Telescope, an open-source means of space exploration. He is a Writer, Editor, and Social Media Manager for SeriousWonder.com and runs his own blog called The Proactionary Transhumanist. He's a co-author of both Longevitize!: Essays on the Science, Philosophy & Politics of Longevity and The Future of Business: Critical Insights On a Rapidly Changing World From 60 Futurists.
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COMMENTS


One aspect of this is the merger of man and machine.  Suppose I am hooked up to the mind extending machine, and exist in both?  Suppose my biological component gradually (or suddenly) ceases to exist, but my artificial component continues.  Wouldn’t that give the sensation of continuity?  I mean, our cells are dying and being replaced constantly - I have the sensation that I am still the same person.





“Will we still be ourselves or will we simply create a copy? Is it a risk we’re willing to take?”

And is it a meaningful question anyway? Will I be myself when I wake up tomorrow morning? On a many-worlds view, there are countless future tomorrow mornings on which countless future versions of me, having evolved in subtly (or not so subtly) different ways from my current state, wake up, and perhaps continue pondering these questions - or perhaps not. Why should I identify with any of them?

Of course we naturally do, usually assuming (naïvely extrapolating from the past) that we have just the one future, we just don’t yet know much about it, so I can sympathise with “to simply make a copy of myself to live forever, but not actually myself, just doesn’t cut it”, along with the insistence on physical continuity. But ultimately I don’t think it is based on anything that is particularly scientifically credible. We identify with our future selves because nature has selected for it, and we thus have a hard-wired (but, I suspect, not wholly insurmountable) tendency to do so. We want physical continuity because in our evolutionary (and personal) past that has been by far the surest way to preserve memories, and thus personality - story-telling and other legacy-building achievements (including having children, of course, but that has its separate evolutionary driver) being very poor relations, something like consolation prizes for those who know they will die. The very idea of uploading, with its potential for multiple copies, editing, merging and so on so scrambles our usual intuitions abut identity that many of us find it unconvincing as a solution to mortality. But perhaps we should rather respond by allowing such thought experiments to make us aware just how naïve our usual conceptions of identity actually are?





Don Corleone was exaggerating for effect when he said:

“a man has only one destiny.”

An animal may have only one destiny; a v. simple (simpleton, ‘retard’)‘person might at this time have only one destiny- but we are here at IEET because we do not necessarily believe one destiny per capita is a permanent state of affairs.





@Peter

You said, “Will I be myself when I wake up tomorrow morning?” I’ve already addressed this in the article as a facet of functional continuity. Consciousness itself changes everyday, every night. It fluctuates on and off during REM sleep, and is turned completely off while under anesthesia. And yet we maintain self-awareness despite these disruptions and changes. Knowing this, though, is irrelevant in the importance of physical continuity.

Having someone else think they’re me, because my functional continuity was replicated in someone else’s physical continuity - brain - is not a path I wish to take as someone who wishes to live much longer than I’m dictated to by my biological clock. I’m not seeking to simply produce copies of myself as a means of reaching “immortality”, per se. That’s nothing more than a more elaborate, meticulous social networking system. I seek my own, personal, indefinite life extension - not the “cheating death with information” route. We’ve been doing that since we discovered how to record our own words and thoughts on cave walls and stoned tablets. I seek the real thing.





Peter is right.

I used to agree with what this article says, that destructive uploading wouldn’t allow ME to live on and that therefore I wouldn’t do it (destructive uploading is when the “original you” is destroyed in the process, for example during brain scanning).

After having put some thoughts on this, I know understand that this conclusion is wrong. There is actually no such thing as “continuity of consciousness”. This notion that consciousness is just a phenomenon emerging from a bunch of perceptions and that there is no lasting self is know as the “bundle theory”. There was a recent Facebook discussion on this subject. Here’s what I said there:

“Consciousness doesn’t “take a path”, it’s an emergent phenomenon, a bundle of processes. There is no such thing as the “continuity of consciousness”. There isn’t any permanent identity that keeps on going through time.

The implications of this are very counter-intuitive and very big: it means that there’s no reason why anyone should care more about his own future than the future of the other people. This is not about altruism, it is about physics: consciousness happens when atoms are in a certain configuration. There is nothing special about this configuration: it can be destroyed or duplicated, and there is no “true one” that would have some kind of property that would make it “the real person” as opposed to “the other ones”.

Blackmore said: “Every moment is just a new story. There’s a similarity between chapters, but there’s nobody there to tie it together. This so-called ‘me’, right now, is just another reconstruction. There was another ‘me’ an hour ago, and there’ll be still another ‘me’ an hour from now. But they’re not really the same person; they’re just stuff happening in the universe.”

And Kurzweil said: “Our identity is a pattern of information.”

Here’s a nice article about this: http://www.world-of-lucid-dreaming.com/what-is-the-self.html”





Florent said:  “consciousness happens when atoms are in a certain configuration.”

But let’s not confuse correlation with causation.  It’s a mere (albeit enormous) assumption that consciousness would perdure on an artificial substrate; why don’t we test it on non-humans?  Would robo-dog recognize his favorite toys?  In the case of Santhouse, her conscious migration transpired on self-replicating tissue derivative from her genome and the fact of her being a ***living*** organism, not just a physically continuous organism.  This leaves open the explanation that consciousness is a power of the soul, non-transferrable to a non-living electrical substrate.





I disagree with Peter and Florent. Florent, if you are arguing that consciousness changes all the time anyway, so why be worried about the continuity of it, then I simply have to ask why you care to wake up in the morning if you believe it could be another person. The point is well taken. Let’s perform a thought experiment. Let’s say that I upload my brain to a digital format, after which my body should be disposed of and my new brain put in another, enhanced body for my new life. But let’s say that an error occurs and my old body and brain never get destroyed. What would happen? I have full continuity in consciousness and physicality with my old body and brain and I have a feeling that if someone tried to dispose of me, I would run for fear of being murdered. The problem is that creating a copy does not denote a “transfer” of consciousness.

Fact is that we know little about consciousness. Philosophers have debated it for centuries and scientists make assumptions about it (many of which they do not even know they are making). The mind body problem is the biggest barrier to what Christina is discussing here and I’m afraid it is still an intractable one.





“why you care to wake up in the morning if you believe it could be another person”

Because my “future me” can still feel emotions, and to not wake up would not be nice to this person. Also I want to be an effective altruist, and for this, “I” need to have good habits, be strong and happy.

“The problem is that creating a copy does not denote a “transfer” of consciousness.”

That’s right. My point is not that a copy denotes a transfer of consciousness, it is that a transfer of consciousness is simply impossible, but that it doesn’t matter. Bear with me, because I understand you 100%, like I said, your argument is the reason why I used to think that being teleported by being destroyed and recreated atom by atom was a no-no.

But then I realised that, as strong as this intuition was, it was based on a false assumption. That assumption being that there is such a thing as the continuity of consciousness. There is not.

Here is a thought experiment: imagine that you wanted to live longer, and just before your death, you were put into a into a cryogenic tank, without any brain electrical activity. Now, consider the following situations:

  1. you are revived after a few years. I guess you would say that this option is ok for you, because obviously you are still the same person.

  2. during your frozen state, we do some very minor modifications in your brain to make you healthier (for example we change some neurons that were causing too much hormonal response). Then we revive you. I think that’s still ok for you.

  3. during your frozen state, we do some not-so-minor modifications in your brain to make you happier (we remove some undesirable neural paths that were the cause of your tendency to quickly get stressed or angry). That may or may not be ok for you, some people would start to say “my personality has been changed, so that wouldn’t be me anymore. Therefore this option wouldn’t allow ME to live longer.”

What’s your take on this?





Now, here’s an even more interesting (and more meta) thought experiment:

Same as above, you are in a frozen state, and several things could happen:

  1. We remove one atom from one of your neurons, and then we put it back. Then we wake you up. I guess that’s fine.

  2. We remove one neuron, deconstruct it atom by atom, reconstruct it, and then put back this “new” neuron (which is exactly the same as the old one). We wake you up. Is that fine?

  3. We remove all your neurons, deconstruct them (so your brain is inexistent for a few minutes), then we reconstruct it, and put it back, exactly as before. We wake you up. You still won’t notice any change when you wake up, but anyway, is that fine?

Now, I think we can agree that this third option is equivalent to the process of scanning you, killing you, and then recreating a new you. We can also agree that this process is equivalent to making a clone of you while you are alive, and then killing you (which REALLY does seem wrong, right?).

So, here’s the real question: at what point do you consider that you are not “you” anymore? Also, what is it that you want to keep during your transfer to a new body? What do we really mean by “continuity of consciousness?”. If it’s not individual atoms, is it electrical activity? But electrical activity can be stopped and started again (during a coma for example). So, what?

That said, yes, if we create a copy of you, there will be two of you, each with their own will to live. That is because any new copy of a brain will have the same patterns of information that makes this person want to live. But that fact does not prove that a lasting “self identity” exists at all. On the contrary, the simple fact that your copy will say “hey, that’s me! don’t kill me!” proves that there is no need for any “continuity of consciousness” to make a person feel like it’s the real one!

In the end, there is nothing that is “following” me, that’s making me “myself”. I’m simply the consequence of atoms hitting each other. That phenomenon can happen at multiple places at the same time (in the case of copies), it can be stopped (if I die or get frozen), it does not have a sign on its head that says “this one is the real deal”. It’s just a local, temporary and ever-changing phenomenon. The conclusion is that, as crazy as it sounds, there is no difference between “being cloned and killed”, and waking up each morning.





@ Florent Berthet

Would you then say that the “mind” is an aggregate of processes, (all processes, (and neurons), “each” being “aware” and consciously interacting)?
- That consciousness is an emergent phenomenon of complex brain processing, is built upon complexity of independent and consciously aware neurons?
- And that together an evolved “Central Executive”, (witness), has emerged pertaining to our notion of “Formal” consciousness, (a feedback loop(s) if you like) - and yet like all executives, this does in fact know little about their own organisation, how it works, or who is “really making all the decisions”?

In anaesthesia formal consciousness can be switched off? Or perhaps subdued may be a better word, but this mechanism never disappears, else we would wake up without it? And in death, where does this mechanism go? Does it go anywhere at all? If the brain is kept in a functional form, despite of failure of body organs - can “you”, your formal consciousness, be re-animated?

What keeps your formal executive consciousness secure is it merely energy?





“Would you then say that the “mind” is an aggregate of processes, (all processes, (and neurons), “each” being “aware” and consciously interacting)?”

I don’t think they have their own “awareness”, but some people with brain trauma or mental diseases can do some weird stuff, such as having one side of their sight not connected to their “awareness center”. This people, when we throw a ball at them on their “blind” side, will catch the ball coming at their face and will hold it without knowing that something happened (in this case, the reflexes and visual systems work without the person having any sense of it, so they work independently, but I wouldn’t say they are “aware”).

“- And that together an evolved “Central Executive”, (witness), has emerged pertaining to our notion of “Formal” consciousness, (a feedback loop(s) if you like) - and yet like all executives, this does in fact know little about their own organisation, how it works, or who is “really making all the decisions”?”

Something like that, yes.

“In anaesthesia formal consciousness can be switched off? Or perhaps subdued may be a better word, but this mechanism never disappears, else we would wake up without it?”

The mechanism disappears during anaesthesia, and reappears when the drug stop having its effect. Since the phenomenon depends on chemical activity, you can switch it on and off if you know how to control this chemical activity. Consciousness does not need any concept of “continuity” to happen. It’s like the light coming out of a light bulb: turning off the light bulb won’t make it lose its ability to create light.

“And in death, where does this mechanism go?”

It disappears. And unless you can recreate the information pattern that made it possible, it’s lost.

“If the brain is kept in a functional form, despite of failure of body organs - can “you”, your formal consciousness, be re-animated?”

The consciousness will be able to be re-animated, yes, just like it has woke up every morning in the past.

“What keeps your formal executive consciousness secure is it merely energy?”

What do you mean by “secure”?

 





Good point, replace the word “secure” with “tethered”?

Technically I agree that the “continuity” of consciousness is illusion, however for all intents and purposes the illusion is “real” and valid regardless. So at this “macro” level of “awareness” the continuity is valid?

Yet conversely, there are no “snapshots” in perceived time either, and this is merely illusion also? As there must be a continuation of change of state between time x to time y, (a Zeno paradox at the particle level of change, and regardless of our own consciousness)?

I, myself, rationalize consciousness as purely Phenomenological and emergent at the level of Human mind, and that this is also part of the “grand illusion” of “Self”. In other words, “consciousness” is merely a fancy word for “awareness”, and that this “awareness” is a physical, (not merely chemical/biological), phenomenon at the particle and quantum level?

So I agree that “consciousness” is nothing we need be worried about, yet for slightly different reasons as described above?

We can perhaps rationalize away both “consciousness” and “awareness” together, and as the same? Yet, how then can an electron or other particle/wave interact with another, without firstly an “awareness” of the “other”, (Dualism)?

Even if this interaction is wholly governed by inherent characteristics and natures, there must still be mechanism for “awareness” before any interaction can commence?

I don’t see consciousness as related to pattern, however I do believe that all physical states, (memories), can be reduced to information and mapped, (transposed), as data?

 

 





“the illusion is “real” and valid regardless. So at this “macro” level of “awareness” the continuity is valid?”

Valid for what? smile
If your question is “the illusion works, so why should I care being destroyed before being revived in another body if I won’t be able to tell that I died?”, then my answer is that indeed you shouldn’t care. The destruction part is not relevant, the illusion is all that matters.

But if your question is “since the illusion works, does it ever matter that there is nothing that makes me the same person over time?”, I say yes, it does matter. The illusion goes deeper than the simple “yeah I guess I won’t be the same person, but I won’t be able to tell, so I should pursue selfish goals anyway”. Indeed, since you will NOT be the same person, it doesn’t matter that this “future you” will think he’s you, because he simply won’t be.

Here’s a little thought experiment to make that clear: imagine that you were scanned during your sleep, then we had to zap your body into non-existence, only to recreate it the next morning. But, instead of just recreating you, we create two of you. Which one of this two persons will you be? Obviously, the answer is not “well, I ill be the one on the left”. And the answer isn’t “well, I will be both of them” either, because your can’t be two persons at the same time (nothing links these two bodies together). But the thing is, these two persons will feel like they are “the real one”. So in the end, even if the illusion makes them feel like they are “you”, it’s pretty clear that you will in fact not be “transferred” in any one of them. The illusion doesn’t solve the problem of transfer.

The point may be even clearer if, in our example, we were to apply some modifications of personality in the brains of the two bodies just before waking them up (this extra step makes it even more obvious that you will NOT be these people, they will be separate and independent entities). This means that there is no point in craving your future holidays in a simulated world, because the person that will benefit from them will just be “somebody with brain patterns close to mine”. More precisely, that person will be a discontinuous stream of consciousness, or, in other words, he will be a series of “consciousness-moments”.

Again, this is what happens when you go to sleep and wake up every morning (or, for that matter, this is what happens every fraction of a second each time something happens in your brain at the atomic scale). So if you are not afraid to go to sleep every night on the basis that “but that won’t be me who will wake up!”, then you shouldn’t be afraid of any mind transfer technique either, however destructive they may be.

“Yet conversely, there are no “snapshots” in perceived time either, and this is merely illusion also?”

Yes, I would even say that it’s at the core of the illusion of self-continuity.

“In other words, “consciousness” is merely a fancy word for “awareness””

Well put, this is spot on.

“this “awareness” is a physical, (not merely chemical/biological), phenomenon at the particle and quantum level?”

Every chemical/biological interaction depends on the laws of physics, which include the particle and quantum level. That said, this doesn’t prove that consciousness requires that much resolution. Maybe consciousness could happen on a computer through a brain simulation at the molecular level, or even at the neuronal level. We don’t know yet.

“So I agree that “consciousness” is nothing we need be worried about, yet for slightly different reasons as described above?”

I’m not sure if our views differ on what is required for consciousness to emerge. I don’t think the level of resolution required for consciousness is relevant to our previous points. What difference does it makes whether it’s dependent to chemical events or quantum ones?

“there must still be mechanism for “awareness” before any interaction can commence?”

How can there be awareness without interaction in the first place? And why would interactions require awareness? How do you define “awareness” in this context?

“I don’t see consciousness as related to pattern, however I do believe that all physical states, (memories), can be reduced to information and mapped, (transposed), as data?”

If you believe that all physical states can be mapped, and if you agree that consciousness is at least in part dependent on these states, why don’t you see consciousness as related to pattern? What more than physical states do you think there is to consciousness?





” If you believe that all physical states can be mapped, and if you agree that consciousness is at least in part dependent on these states, why don’t you see consciousness as related to pattern? What more than physical states do you think there is to consciousness?”

This is where we disagree, I believe that “consciousness” experienced by Human “minds” is Phenomenological and emergent from the complexity of interactions at atomic levels, (and built upon quantum interactions).

And that, what we term as “consciousness” is no more than an “awareness” “displayed” in atomic and physical interactions. Therefore this is a “Universal” phenomenon and thus is not linked to identity at all?

And yes, I do also believe that even interactions of electrons within a Silicon processor are exhibiting this awareness, (and this is precisely why we need not be worried about transfer of “consciousness”/“awareness”).

Before expanding on this further, let me just add here…

The reason why you wake up in the morning realised as the “same person” with continuity of “identity”, is not due to “consciousness” and is reliant upon persistence of memory? The “mechanisms” which permit reflection and awareness of these memories, (ie consciousness), does not define identity or persistence of memory?


Now to the tricky contemplation

“How can there be awareness without interaction in the first place? And why would interactions require awareness? How do you define “awareness” in this context?”

This is important, and regarding physical energy/matter interactions your point is valid, and a physicist would no doubt state the same, that “awareness characteristics displayed” are consequence and does not precede these events, (or what we Humans may rationalize as consequence through our “own reliance” upon awareness/consciousness interaction).

The analogy I offer is with the dilemma concerning gravity and classical Newtonian problems of mass bodies and the transfer and exchange of information between them. This information exchange was presumed to “enable” the interaction of mass bodies, even at great distances.

Enter Einstein and General Theory, and curved space-time is then proposed to solve this dilemma, and replace this metaphysical dilemma of information exchange with mass bodies naturally “free falling” towards each other. Fine, but this does not explain interacting atomic particles that have polarity and spin.

A phenomenon similar to gravity may however be responsible for interaction of particles, and be analogous to this “awareness” I offer which “enables” the interaction between particles?

Electrons and other Fermions have mass, so it is not impossible to contemplate that General theory gravitational space-time curvature may still apply in principle even at these minuscule levels? (Remember the goal here is to describe a fundamental and “Universal” mechanism for “awareness”, which then supports our notions of “consciousness” at the macroscopic level of “mind”)?

Therefore a more complete theory of gravity, Higgs field, may support this analogy of “Universal awareness” which I propose enables interaction at atomic levels?


Your earlier analogy regarding the light bulb is also interesting. Indeed Photons, (bosons), can be created in abundance, even with a single light bulb filament due to the energy supplied to excite the electrons to expel these Photons. Yet more interestingly is that Photons described as Electro-magnetic EM waves may indeed contribute to interaction with brain waves, as well as comprising interactions between electrons and energy exchange, (within neurons)?

My point? Anesthesia apparently interferes with the Human brain 40Hz gamma cycle, which is no more and no less than an EM wave, and the propagation of energy. Another reason I would propose “consciousness/awareness” as purely mechanism - and not responsible for comprising identity?





“And that, what we term as “consciousness” is no more than an “awareness” “displayed” in atomic and physical interactions. Therefore this is a “Universal” phenomenon and thus is not linked to identity at all?”

I agree on that. I don’t even see what else consciousness could be, physically.

“The reason why you wake up in the morning realised as the “same person” with continuity of “identity”, is not due to “consciousness” and is reliant upon persistence of memory”

Totally. That’s also why the questions “why do I always wake up as the same person?” or “why am I me?” don’t make sense. Every person that has ever asked himself these questions asked them with a set of memories that make it impossible for their mind NOT to feel like they are always the same person. We can’t wake up as another person because, even if it happened, we would have the memories of the other person, and these memories would tell us that we woke up as the same person AGAIN.

“Remember the goal here is to describe a fundamental and “Universal” mechanism for “awareness”, which then supports our notions of “consciousness” at the macroscopic level of “mind””

Ok, this is where we the discussion is at. I’m not convinced we need a universal mechanism for awareness between particles to explain “mind awareness”. I’m still not sure what “awareness between particles” could mean. I also don’t think this is relevant to whether or not we should be concerned with the destructiveness of mind transfer methods, because whatever the physical mechanisms of consciousness, they hardly can support the notion of self-identity.

 





“Ok, this is where we the discussion is at. I’m not convinced we need a universal mechanism for awareness between particles to explain “mind awareness”. I’m still not sure what “awareness between particles” could mean. I also don’t think this is relevant to whether or not we should be concerned with the destructiveness of mind transfer methods, because whatever the physical mechanisms of consciousness, they hardly can support the notion of self-identity.”

Agreed regarding the misrepresentations of the term “consciousness”, although it is necessary to understand when communicating ideas that some do describe and understand the term consciousness as pertaining to the “total” quality of “Self-reflexivity” which includes the entire aggregated process of mind, and thinking, and reflecting upon memories which supports our identity. And I feel we do need to differentiate between identity and the mechanism of “awareness” of mind and Self-reflexivity to further progress the argument for mind-uploading. (ie; by analysing and proposing that consciousness emerges, and will emerge naturally, even in different substrate - by supporting notions of natural, (nature), particle interactions)?

Regarding awareness between particles - Yes this is debatable. And mine is a wholly philosophical, (not spiritual), reflection. And I suppose it derives from the dilemma that in Quantum mechanics “an observer” is able to collapse the wave function in the “double slit experiment”, and appear to affect the outcome of the experiment by determining whether the particle shows characteristics and behaves as a wave or not. This is not to say that there may be something wrong with the experiment itself, and with the question we are asking in the experiment?

How can the “observer” affect the nature of the electron in the experiment? Does this indicate some kind of relationship between the observer entity and the electron? Are we simply deluding ourselves in the experiment? This may indeed be the case, and yet every experiment performed and results gathered in a particle collider must then also be delusion, (of our consciousness observations)?

If the “double slit” experiment holds truth, then not only do complex Human minds collapse wave functions, I would propose that every particle entity and interaction must have ability to collapse Quantum wave functions, that in fact, electrons and other particles collapse wave functions as natural process of their interactions? For this to be true, there must be “information” exchange between any particle/wave entities that “enables” interaction?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double-slit_experiment

A counter argument that you may propose is that an electron by nature has spin and charge, energy and momentum, and will by nature, interact with any other electron or particle that comes close - this relies on “proximity”, (space-time, gravity, general theory), and EM forces, for physical interaction - and this then does not imply any such awareness.

Thought experiment: If an electron can exist “isolated” from it’s environment, (if this is possible at all)? Then there is no reason nor motivation for it to change state, so it will “perpetuate” indefinitely, (timelessly), in a state of non-change until there is interaction with another particle or wave entity. There is no “other” to break down the wave function and physical state of the electron isolated?


And then there’s this..

Quantum entanglement is a physical phenomenon that occurs when particles such as photons, electrons, molecules as large as buckyballs, and even small diamonds interact and then become separated, with the type of interaction such that each resulting member of a pair is properly described by the same quantum mechanical description (state), which is indefinite in terms of important factors such as position, momentum, spin, polarization, etc.

Quantum entanglement is a form of quantum superposition. When a measurement is made and it causes one member of such a pair to take on a definite value (e.g., clockwise spin), the other member of this entangled pair will at any subsequent time be found to have taken the appropriately correlated value (e.g., counterclockwise spin). Thus, there is a correlation between the results of measurements performed on entangled pairs, and this correlation is observed even though the entangled pair may have been separated by arbitrarily large distances. In quantum entanglement, part of the transfer happens instantaneously.

Repeated experiments have verified that this works even when the measurements are performed more quickly than light could travel between the sites of measurement: there is no slower-than-light influence that can pass between the entangled particles. Recent experiments have shown that this transfer occurs at least 10,000 times faster than the speed of light; this merely establishes a lower limit to the speed — it may actually be instantaneous.

This behavior is consistent with quantum-mechanical theory, has been demonstrated experimentally, and is an area of extremely active research by the physics community. However there is some heated debate about whether a possible classical underlying mechanism could explain why this correlation occurs instantaneously even when the separation distance is large. The difference in opinion derives from espousal of various interpretations of quantum mechanics.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_entanglement

 

 

 





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