If they can bring your mind to life inside a computer, then you're essentially a simulation of yourself. In that case, how can you ever know that the person you're giving the password to is real? And that you haven't just been revived in a sandbox for the express purpose of getting your password, which they can then pass on themselves. Shades of Rick and Morty ...
How do you know that’s not the case right now?
This would be difficult with the current legal system in most of the United States because of the rule against perpetuities. Of course, jurisdiction shopping makes this easier in certain locales.
According to Larry Niven (Rammer), the courts will find the dead cannot own property.
I observe there's a certain prejudice, in that law is written by the living.
The other ideas of cryptocurrency/escrow/private keys would escape the law... until you tried to spend it legally. You might as well bury gold in a chest.
According to Douglas Adams, Hotblack Desiato once spent a year dead for tax reasons.
DNA is strangely relevant here (as he often is):
[...] I don't know what this great think I'm meant to be doing is, and it looks to me as if I was supposed not to know. And I resent that, right?
"The old me knew. The old me cared. Fine, so far so hoopy. Except that the old me cared so much that he actually got inside his own brain - my own brain - and locked off the bits that knew and cared, because if I knew and cared I wouldn't be able to do it. I wouldn't be able to go and be President, and I wouldn't be able to steal this ship, which must be the important thing.
"But this former self of mine killed himself off, didn't he, by changing my brain? OK, that was his choice. This new me has its own choices to make, and by a strange coincidence those choices involve not knowing and not caring about this big number, whatever it is. That's what he wanted, that's what he got.
"Except this old self of mine tried to leave himself in control, leaving orders for me in the bit of my brain he locked off. Well, I don't want to know, and I don't want to hear them. That's my choice. I'm not going to be anybody's puppet, particularly not my own."
Zaphod banged the console in fury, oblivious to the dumbfolded looks he was attracting.
"The old me is dead!" he raved, "Killed himself! The dead shouldn't hang about trying to interfere with the living!"
I wonder if you could use a trust corporation to do this... I don't know anything about law though.
Corporations have more personhood - certainly more legal agency - than many people do.
Uploads aren’t even the biggest worry. If it turned out to be possible to upload analyse and upload personalities, it would also become possible to synthesize new personalities on demand to a required spec.
How much value does organic personality actually have?
Until the "dead" uploads outnumber the living, at which point they vote in a bloc to expropriate and enslave the meat-humans, as in the novel The Uploaded.
We have a saying up here, life is wasted on the living.
A. thanks for the suggestion, great, terrific, wonderful (was flux good?) but B. The dead shouldn't hang about trying to interfere with the living!
So I memorized my private key. Revive me and I will tell you and you will get all my coins.
Presumably if they can revive you as you are now, there's a fair chance they'll be able to just directly dump your memories and search for hex strings without ever actually running you.
Couldn't you just put it in your will? EG that I leave $X to whoever supplies the right password? You would also need to leave money to your new self I suppose.
The law against perpetuity means you can’t have an open ended bequest like that. Someone living has to get it, and in bounded time. You can mess around a bit, like leaving money in trust to your youngest living descendent, to pay out on their 65th birthday, unless someone revives you. Which also starts to sound like a movie plot.
perhaps we need to classify people as not dead but "heisen" :)
Memorize a private key to a Crypto wallet and transfer all of your assets to it in the days leading up to uploading?
And of course let everyone know that's the case beforehand!
What if it's cheaper to extract the key from your brain and dump the rest?
It's unclear that that's possible, though.
We're considering the funding implications of uploading a consciousness to storage and retrieving it later. None of it is possible.
Why would people 200 years into the future believe your assertion?
If the crypto network is still around then the balances can be publicly verified.
What if you claim to reveal the password once you're alive, but don't? Or can claim you don't know it even if you do? What will people do then - kill you off again?
This assumes that the crypto network will still be worth anything by then. Who says any of the coins in existence right now will be worth anything even if cryptocurrency takes over?
"Highly laborious process": I guess if the technology was available to preform this process, then automating it would be relatively easy. The materials that make up a human are cheap enough.
Edit: I read the article. So they are assuming in the future that they won't bother making a new human, but just load the brain state into a computer simulation, which would be even cheaper.
Computers have yet to match many of the capabilities of the brain. Heck I have better image recognition when I’m drunk than all of Google’s image recognition nodes combined.
Could a computer host a human mind to its full capacity?
Did you forget that any technology publicly known and available is about 20 years old? Im sure they are systems that can recognize image faster and more accurate than humans but its sort of a “product” you wont find by googling.
I did not know this. I assumed certain technology is more advanced in private industry or classified governmental programs, but I was unaware that my iPhone X is effectively a 1997 device.
You can find research projects that haven't (yet) been commercialised. They exist only in prototype form that either isn't ready for mass production or isn't economically feasible. You see it all the time with things like memristors or the latest potential cure for cancer.
Sure, but integration of technologies is a technology itself. And, that too must then be 20 years old.
Sounds unlikely. Is there any evidence of this?
While I agree there may be classified tech more advanced than commercial & available research systems, I think this generalization is, to put it politely, nonsense.
Then enslave the mind to do work, to pay the hosting bills.
They'd presumably already have any number of superior minds, able to be spun up in whatever quantity required.
Hmm, interesting. Assuming resurrecting you was easier than picking your brain, there would be the problem of you lying, both when you died and after you were brought back to life. How would they deal with that?
I guess they could just kill you again. But would the threat of that happening in the future deter you from lying at time of death, when you have nothing else to lose?
It seems like there would need to be system of proving possession of a password that would have to last 100 years. I have not thought through this kind of scenario (sorry!). Perhaps this has been considered before by those studying the problem in detail (e.g. science fiction authors)? What are the solutions?
Or the conjugate problem: people bringing you back before they really have the capability to do it well, and having you be some sort of invalid/derelict version of yourself. That's terrifying to me.
You're describing public-key cryptography. Sign a message to prove you know a private key that also authorizes the release of funds. This happens to be exactly the functionality of Bitcoin.
It is debatable whether known public-key cryptography systems will survive attack for the amount of time under discussion here.
I suspect the hack will be to extract the secret from the brain being resurrected, recover the funds, and toss the brain in the trash.
A future in which adequately restoring the running processes of the 100 billion neurons of a partly-deteriorated human brain shorn of its body is less difficult than cracking early 2000s public key cryptography sounds like a future sufficiently unlikely to discount when making future plans...
The comment you're replying to made the same point.
It's pretty unlikely that any particular system like Bitcoin will still be around in 100 years. It would be difficult to think of any investment that will still be worth something in 100 years. Buried gold perhaps?
Being able to upload a mind is effectively the same as immortality. I doubt wealth matters at all to immortal beings.
This comment pairs great with the other top level comment that you could be subjected to inhuman amounts of torture.
Why bother resurrecting you fully?
You have to bet on being among the first to be revived, i.e. to have one of the highest taking bounties but not the highest.
You don't want to be the first but you want to be the tenth or so. Once the process takes off all the bounties will drastically lose their worth because such technology will likely disrupt a lot of what humans place value on.
This sounds like it could be the premise for another book in Daniel Saurez's series Daemon and Freedom.
If folks really want to make sure they come back from the dead, they might also think about setting up proper incentives for performing the potentially highly laborious process that resurrection might entail even 100+ years from now. It might be helpful to place a sort of back-to-life bounty on yourself, to be held in escrow, and only to be paid out upon successful resurrection. The bigger the bounty, the higher your de-facto priority in the queue. Let it collect interest and fund the ongoing administration of your bounty in the meantime.
If you really want to make it stringent, make the bounty require a password that only that (deceased) person knows. Best case scenario they do such a good job resurrecting you that you still remember the password, or at worst there's an incentive to picking the fact out of your brain, which might be only slightly less difficult than doing the full resurrection.
This is a main element of DeLillo's latest book Zero K. A state-of-the-art secret facility is built in a middle of nowhere former Soviet bloc country. It's financed by ultra wealthy people whose bodies are disassembled and frozen with the hopes they will be reanimated in the future.
There is a short chapter that is narrated by the detached consciousness of one of the patrons. She has lost all sense of self and is trapped in a dim loop of pure thought, constantly questioning what she is. Probably one of the most quietly terrifying things I have ever read.
I had something similar happen to me once and didn't know how long it was going to last and it really was that terrifying, except instead of questioning what I was, I could remember everything I normally could. I just couldn't sense anything but my own thoughts and memories. Luckily I came out of it, but it would be an awful hell.
That is intense. I hope that's the only time you have to experience that. Speaking of hell, it's actually similar to what my Catholic school taught us hell would be like. No physical pain or brimstone... Just your mind, alone and separated from all for eternity.
Really? Interesting. People are social to an extent that they think isolation is hell?
Well it goes a bit deeper than socializing. I said separated from all, but that's including "grace", which if I remember correctly is a connection to god that is available to humans during life.
Yes, that's why solitary confinement is considered torture.
You're isolated from both other people and from the cool things you can do without other people.
This happened to me once in high school. I had fallen asleep on the couch in the basement (it was fully finished, and my siblings and I spent most of our days down there when we weren't outside, playing, watching TV, and playing video games) in the early evening. When my sister wanted to watch TV, she tried to wake me up, leaning over the back of the couch. For a solid 5 minutes my memory just did not work at all. My inner monologue was something like "What? What is all of this? What am I? What is that (my sister)? Where am i?" etc, repeatedly for a number of minutes.
Nothing like it has happened since.
Did you take any dissociatives or psychedelics?
I'm not sure why that would be terrifying. If we are able to upload and run brains on a computer, then we understand consciousness which is a mystery subject.
Be aware that running code on a computer is just the computation of numbers. So if computing a number makes a consciousness, then all possible states of your consciousness are happening. All the numbers are there.
I'm not sure why that would be terrifying
Because humans have now become overloards of your very conscience.
Imagine that I am a communist revolutionary and I take control of the governmental system and I don't like rich people, but I decide well all these virtual brains and their wealth they should be put to work for the state, to pay back their misdeeds and robbing of the earth of resources in their past life.
Maybe I am a Mengele and decide I have a wealth of experimental subjects. Difference is now I can bend and break you mind but you cant die, unless I delete you.
I see all kinds of ways this can go wrong and given time all possibilities will happen.
No thats not true. Running any numbers doesn't make a consiousiness. Specific numbers do that.
There's also a similar scene in Altered Carbon
Iain M Banks' Culture novel, Surface Detail, also deals with the idea of eternal digital heavens and hells.
Many of them are run by corporations. Some civilizations even send young sinners on day trips to hell to keep them on the 'right' path.
Back in 1965, Stanislaw Lem wrote in his Cyberiad about a sadistic king who was given a virtual world to rule over. The king gleefully proceeded to torture its virtual inhabitants. Lem has a lot to say on the ethics of this.
You can read this remarkable story and Douglas Hofstadter's and Daniel Dennett's commentary on it here:
"What do I care for your suffering? Pain, even agony, is no more than information before the senses, data fed to the computer of the mind. The lesson is simple: you have received the information, now act on it. Take control of the input and you shall become master of the output."
Chairman Sheng-ji Yang, "Essays on Mind and Matter"
It's rather a key theme of the Kovach trilogy. Envoys get reconstructed to resist digital torture. "Get to the next screen."
Edit: The novels are much better than the Netflix videos. They are, in my opinion, crude hacks. Randomized and simplified. The virtual torture sequence in Altered Carbon is vastly more horrible than the one in the video. Even if I didn't care about spoilers, I'd hesitate to describe it here.
And if you like Kovach, check out Stover's Caine novels. He also wrote the Star Wars novels, but don't hold that against him.
I watched the Netflix series and I really liked the premise but found the story and acting lacking in some areas.
However I really liked the noir protagonist and the scene you described was my favorite episode in the show. I am interested how the story continues.
Are the books much better than the show? How would you rate the trilogy among your favorite cyberpunk novels? Thanks.
I'd rate the second book (broken angels) as one of my favourite sci-fi books (which might include tiger,Tiger/the stars my destination, neuromancer, fire upon the deep, holy Fire... There are many great ones).
I started with that one though, and then read the other two.
I'd say overall as a triology, it rates alongside neuromancer /the sprawl triology. A little more pulp - but a similar serious take on technological evolution.
[ed: the netflix series is to ac, a little like the Johnny Mnemonic film is to the short story. Although the series is a bit closer to the books]
Broken Angels is also my favorite. Kovacs is an extremely complex character. He's been tweaked so much, in becoming an Envoy, that he's fundamentally an AI. He's somewhat like the vampires in Peter Watts' novels.
Also, I'm very impressed by Morgan's skill in writing action. Maybe that's what you mean by "pulp".
I also loved the "A Land Fit For Heroes" trilogy. I hadn't read fantasy for years. And from that, I discovered Joe Abercrombie and Matthew Woodring Stover.
Are the books much better than the show?
Significantly. I have read the trilogy several times, and the Netflix series, whilst cool, doesn't come close to the depth and pacing of the books.
By the way, Bruce Sterling's "Holy Fire" offers some thoughts on extended life, in a more near-future, no jumping bodies/sleeves setting.
In Hannu Rajaniemi's "Flower Prince" trilogy, the vast majority of digital consciousnesses become coding slaves.
It's a bit pretentious to think that any being would bother to spend precious free energy to torture a bunch of lowly humans don't you think. Hence not worried.
Reminds me a bit of Neuromancer, too.
This really isn't what YCombinator should talk about. Does this start new companies?
The reason for this site in the first place was to start new companies. Brains getting sliced into jars is not impressing anyone.
From the HN Guidelines:
"On-Topic: Anything that good hackers would find interesting. That includes more than hacking and startups. If you had to reduce it to a sentence, the answer might be: anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity."
"Please don't complain that a submission is inappropriate. If a story is spam or off-topic, flag it. Don't feed egregious comments by replying; flag them instead. If you flag something, please don't also comment that you did."
Yea, I get the mod rules, but this is bad.
The purpose of YCombinator was to start new companies, not to argue about brain slices.
If you want to argue about brain slices, that's cool, I'm just saying. Not what this discussion board was meant for.
This is still harmless compared to my worries, sadly. Imagine Stalin/Hitler/Mao 9000+, sending coffins into orbits around suns to keep alive and torturing their victims until the star goes out. The Catholic Church in medieval times could "only" threaten and kill, but look how reall the fear of hellfire was... yet just the technological possibility of doing this would suffice, no need to actually do it to every dissident. Do it to some, with great publicity, maybe a live feed of their torture with mandatory attendance for all citizens, secretly kill most others and send out empty dummy coffins. Super cheap, same, horrible result. At scale, "forever".
I wish I could consider it gruesome fiction, but to me this is the ocean the syrup of power and sadism wills towards. It was fantasized about for the same reasons it will be implemented, everything else remaining the same. Humans have gotten more, not less sick.
Any sufficiently advanced technology that is capable of resurrecting your brain/consciousness, is also capable of subjecting your digital consciousness to eternal torture worse than anything experienced by Man thus far. If you haven't already, check out Black Mirror's last episode: Black Museum. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy, even if there's only an infinitesimal chance of it happening.
Anyone who is cryopreserved, but is viewed as a villian in the zeitgeist of the future, could end up being booted up into a personal hell for the amusement/vindictiveness of future people.
If a 'Hitler' VM was publicly available online, how many people would torture it? What are the ethics around torturing virtual consciousnesses of evil people?
A heads up for anyone interested in such matters, but an episode in the latest season of Black Mirror is specifically about this :-) (Indeed, most of the season is about the ethics of simulated consciousness in various ways.)
Great show. Loved season 3. White Christmas in season 2 also touches on this.
As an alternative here's a outline of a resonable way someone might opensource their mind (credit to DataPacRat):
That reminds me of a story, "The Lifecycle of Software Objects" by Ted Chiang, in which people keep AIs as pets. But they don't dare let them on the internet because when they did, trolls would torture them. So the AIs could only live in walled garden type virtual worlds.
Iain Banks' novel "Surface Detail" describes virtual hells where people can be tortured for eternity.
Because it’s fine and dandy to torture or dehumanize people you disagree with like evil Nazis, left/right wingers, people who eat pizza on tuesdays - so long as the powers that be sanction and approve it. I look forward to our future “torture Hitler” VR amusement parks.
Altered Carbon explores virtual torture pretty extensively in its first season. Acting is sub-par, but concepts are intriguing as all hell.
I imagine archaeologists of the future will talk condescendingly about us the same way we talk about the ancient Egyptians and their quaint belief that things they did to the body would have some kind of effect in the afterlife.
Nonetheless, here in our time, it brilliantly crosses/combines...
funeral services, a highly lucrative field
scifi, including all its expansiveness
the desperate compensatory technological hubris of people who know deep down that the world is quietly going down the shitter
and/or narcissism (on which nobody ever went broke)
We don't say the same thing about egyptian pharohs and embalming. We consider it a very interesting treasure of history. I'm sure if embalming was a process that let us revive ancient people, we'd do so because we'd really want to learn from them.
Guy needs to not be so pessimistic.
I'm sure most of us spend more than $10000 each year on prolonging our lives (food and rent). It doesn't seem very selfish to do it just once more.
Is $10k the full price of getting this done? I thought it was just the deposit to get on the waiting list.
Good question. I'm not sure exactly, but it seems the right order of magnitude. Alcor's website says that they cost $80k, and this should be cheaper since they don't need to keep the liquid nitrogen topped up.
Food and rent actually work.
> Altman tells MIT Technology Review he’s pretty sure minds will be digitized in his lifetime. “I assume my brain will be uploaded to the cloud,” he says.
It's like the cloud is _still_ just a pseudo-magical place  we just need to get access to, then all our dreams can come true.
> It's like the cloud is _still_ just a pseudo-magical place
Like Tahiti. It's a magical place.
That part of the article was frankly outright disgusting. Laughing and mocking people for trying to save people's lives is cartoon bad guy. Making deluded strawman argument in order to discourage life-saving measures is horrifically unethical.
Dying is not something to be paraded around as a virtue. I only hope people figure it out sooner rather than later.
I don't feel too bad about it. If economic growth stays even slightly positive it won't take too many generations for our descendants to be unimaginably more wealthy than we are. They can put up with our brain banks and dry their tears with their one dollar notes that are worth $1,000 in 2018 dollars.
That's not how inflation works - in the future, the value of the dollar will be less, not more.
Not universally: The value of $1 (nominal) worth of computing resources and information storage in 2018 is surely thousands of times the value of $1 (nominal) worth of the same in 1958.
EDIT: Some quick math on deflation in storage costs. The IBM 305 RAMAC was introduced in 1956, provided 5MB of magnetic storage and cost $3,200/month in 1956 dollars. To pick a random modern storage provider with a similar pricing model, in 2018 Dropbox offers 1TB for $10/month. Putting aside all the other advantages Dropbox gives you over a 305, the pure storage value of $1 (nominal) has gone from 1.6KB/month to 100GB/month, a multiple of over 50 million.
Focusing on the exceptions doesn't help the rule. You could get an average US house for $20k and a brand new car for $2k in 1956, and a $4k annual income was a comfortable middle class living. Commercial flight wasn't just prohibitively expensive by modern standards in 1856, it was impossible, but you could live on $100 a year at the time.
If you want to pay 2118 people to resuscitate you (in the unlikely event the technology is feasible and people are willing and able and developed) you're going to need to invest that money well.
It is how investments and productivity gains work, however.
We are incredibly more wealthy than people of a hundred years ago, in almost every respect.
Yeah, one way I like to think about is if you could trade your current life for being a billionaire 100, 200, etc years ago, would you?
>their one dollar notes that are worth $1,000 in 2018 dollars.
The fed would never allow this to happen. That would be deflation.
What we should pray for is $0.25 loaves of bread, $10 rent, and a $1000 minimum wage.
We want a future where human time is valued and basic resources are plentiful enough to be cheap for everyone.
That is still deflation. Deflation is any decrease in the general price level of goods and services. It does not matter if it is due to increased production by advanced AI robots, etc. After all, if you knew you can get something cheaper tomorrow, why spend at all? Like you said, the Fed will run against this.
I wasn't trying to be pedantic, but if you want to go there, feel free to consult the chart. There's plenty that's become more expensive in real dollars, and there exists a strange cohort of people that believe real wage gains are a form of inflation. My worry is that these same people frequently sit at the helm of our monetary system.
My point remains:
> We want a future where human time is valued and basic resources are plentiful enough to be cheap for everyone.
because you need food to live. no amount of tightness on spending can delay the necessity of food.
it always boggles me why people scoff at deflationary economics with this line of reasoning - i see little evidence that the average person is so wise with spending money today.
It always boggles me that people scoff at the notion of people deferring many purchases and not investing at all in a deflationary economy because the relatively small fraction of spending which is necessary for survival is likely to be unaffected.
“Burdening future generations with our brain banks is just comically arrogant. Aren’t we leaving them with enough problems?” Hendricks told me this week after reviewing Nectome’s website. “I hope future people are appalled that in the 21st century, the richest and most comfortable people in history spent their money and resources trying to live forever on the backs of their descendants. I mean, it’s a joke, right? They are cartoon bad guys.”
Best part of the article for sure
Clearly, morality and the greater good of humanity requires that we proactively euthanize any genius who hits 60. Even against their will. All assets should go to the euthanasia team to cover costs.
Do you refer to a certain Star Trek episode? https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Half_a_Life_(Star_Trek:_The_...
(Ritual suicide at age 60 embedded in culture)
I had forgotten about this. I bet I subsciously used it.
I was actually thinking of Logan’s Run when writing my comment.
Or Logan's Run.
(Ritual suicide embedded in culture, age 21 in the novel and 30 in the film)
RIP David Ogden Stiers . That episode of Trek might be the only thing I ever saw him other than MASH but I found him quite good in both.
Also found in Asimov's Pebble in the Sky.
Or, you know, you could just clone them, like Riker. Or make a copy without invasive means.
And anyway, if people have cybernetic implants, I wonder what being human will mean.
People talk about how cybernetics will change what it means to be human, however I really believe we are already past that point.
My cell phone and computer augment my ability to do things to such a degree that I feel I'm not myself without those abilities. I rely on note apps to remember things, calendars to schedule, internet searches to re-discover information or lookup specifics. My social life, my professional life, and my personal life are all significantly changed by computers.
I honestly feel taking your eyes and hands out of the equation and putting stuff directly into your brain is going to be more evolutionary than revolutionary.
>If electrical transmissions are at all required, then this would render a brain nothing more than an amusing curio.
That fact that people sometimes survive lightning strikes and epileptic fits suggests that normal brain activity can be restarted after a disruption.
The current research in Neuro is that a memory a synaptic condition, in that some synapse is structured in some way in relation to other neurons. There are W-many GABA receptors and X-many vesicles, Y-many AMPA receptors and Z-many neurotransmitters. Each receptor is in some state of flux in terms of it's age and other chemical modifiers on the protein. The synapse itself is tethered in some way and has structural proteins in it (not all of which are known these days). The astrocytes and glia that surround each synapse are also modifying the region, including some uptake/downtake of receptors and neurotransmitter vesicles (cool, very recent stuff). Additionally, the cells themselves are regulating the synapses in relation to the other synapses in the cell and the extra-cellular environment. Note: not all neurons 'fire' via synapses, some are just directly attached to a cell's soma (main cell body where the nucleus is). It's Bio, everything is crazy.
Still, that synapse is thought to be the main modification area of neuronal firing, in that it acts like a classical memristor. So, though electrical activity is not required and lightning/shocks can be sustained (by some miracle), the 'self'/mind is the network of the synapses (GIANT caveats apply here). Also, even under heavy anesthesia, the neurons are firing and active, jsut not coherently.
If you can preserve the synaptic weights, their dynamics, and their network, you should be able to reconstruct the 'mind' of another person. However, that is one instant in time and space. You'd need to know where pretty much every ion was and it's momentum, and I'm pretty sure that's impossible (Heisenberg and all that jazz).
> You'd need to know where pretty much every ion was and it's momentum, and I'm pretty sure that's impossible.
As parent said, people do stuff like trans-cranial electric stimulation which surely changes where some ions are, yet they do not lose their personality afterwards.
I'm pretty sure our brain is more robust than the exact position of every ion. Biology is very messy, and stochastic.
Also note how artificial neural networks are very noise resistant, which allows people to run them on low-precission numbers.
I should have been more clear and said something like the 'current consciousness.' Thanks for the pointer!
Probably more like an estimation of your consciousness. ie: Your consciousness is currently running at ∂0.665 precision. To increase precision, please purchase our turbo max package at $15/day cost.
Another example is people undergoing deep hypothermic circulatory arrest, where they can only start surgery after an EEG showing no neural activity (electrocerebral silence).
Also, survivors of drowning in icy water. I linked to a review paper in another thread a while back.
> Given that the output of so many brilliant people is skewed to when they are young...
Is this really the case? If so why do salaries increase with age? What do you mean by "young"? The bottom half of living people by age? How do you explain the years our children spend in school generating no value at all?
Are you sure that children do not generate value?
That’s a very unfavorable and disingenuous reading of my comment.
The portion of kaizendad’s comment that I replied to specifically mentioned “output”. I interpret this to mean economic benefit or “value”.
The time students spend in school is time they are not working. Children generate almost zero economic benefit until they are out of school and the type of person kaizendad references is likely to spend a lot of time in school. Their economic contributions probably do not start until their late 20s.
I think a persons maximum economic output is probability closer to middle age than their early adult years. Perhaps kaizendad and I simply misalign on the definition of “young”.
Your position on this is a little disturbing, and ignores every child/young adult who either grew up poor and had to work, or worked part time because their parents didnt buy them a car or every other thing they wanted as a teen. Or, they just actually wanted a job. I mean, in the US you can go anywhere and there's 15 and 16 year olds working as clerks, restaurant employees, etc. I got my first legally taxed job in Indiana as a 'root beer boy' at a diner when I was 14!
From link, "As of October 2015, 49 percent of all youth ages 16-24 were employed in any work, either full- or part-time. Youth enrolled in high school had an employment rate of 18 percent, while the rate for those in college, either full- or part-time, was 45 percent."
My position on this is not disturbing at all. My position on this is that education improves the future productivity of our youth. We trade economic productivity today for increases in future production.
You have cited a problem. The fact that we make children work to support their families holds them back from being the ones who kaizendad refers to.
Children who have the benefit of education early on are more likely to be productive later in life.
I also had my first paying job at a young age. My economic benefit today is much larger in comparison and continues to increase year over year. My maximum economic contribution has yet to occur even though my youthful employment was decades in the past.
I dunno, if this guy won't even look both ways maybe he doesn't actually deserve a slot in the cryo cooler.
Seems like a big bet on the concept that the physical structure of the brain preserves enough information to resurrect a consciousness. If electrical transmissions are at all required, then this would render a brain nothing more than an amusing curio.
Although, given that their target market is already those planning to be euthanized, I suppose the tradeoff of one's brain being an amusing curio vs. one's brain being worm food is not a reason to avoid this service.
If they are correct, it brings up an interesting question: given that the technology requires a slow, planned process to preserve the brain, at what point should a uniquely brilliant person be euthanized, in order to preserve them, rather than allowing them to die by sudden misadventure, e.g. not paying attention and getting hit by a car crossing the street.
Given that the output of so many brilliant people is skewed to when they are young, do we just start proactively euthanizing the top 0.05% of the population when they reach 50, to preserve our best for the future?
If you've ever suffered from Depersonalization/Derealization disorder, it will become very clear that your mind and your consciousness are not the same thing at all.
DP/DR is quite possibly the worst mental disorder you can ever fall into. It is the feeling where you are convinced everything around you is not real, you see people you know, you know they are significant, but they just feel like actors in a show and you don't care. You look in the mirror, and you don't recognize yourself as you, you just see a body. Worse, your body just moves around the world and accomplish things on autopilot, while you watch everything unfold on what feels like a screen, completely detached. If you died, you wouldn't care much, because you wouldn't feel it's you dying, in fact you want to die, because you are trapped in a hell from which there is no escape.
I've never suffered from this disorder, but I investigated it for some time and am convinced it reveals something we do not yet understand about our existence in this world. The source of our existence may not be where we think it is.
Eh, easily attributed to brain chemistry and not necessarily anything woo.
please oblige and expand on this “easy attribution”.
To be clear, it bothers me when we wave away the really hard problems - while we become too enchanted with solutions that barely build on current technology.
This company injects chemicals near your brain stem and lets your heart pump it into all minuscule parts of your brain. The apparent allure comes from the potential development of a technology some time in the future that will allow a reanimation of the person seated in that saved brain.
the money they’ve raised so far is due to the possible improvements this proposed technology will bring to neuro research.
I already did:
There is no known cause. Or cure for that matter.
That's not really a rebuttal of my point.
I have a serious medical condition. I frequently suffer somatopsychic side effects. It's incredible what chemistry can make you feel.
I happen to also believe in a lot of woo stuff. But the reality is that no known cause is not proof that there is a spiritual explanation or cause.
this isn’t an explanation. this is a very poor woman’s hypothesis. If you were to provide verifiable relationships between chemical imbalances and whatever relevant physical abnormalities in a brain and a person’s mental state, you’d be up for a nobel prize.
to achieve this relationship, you’d first need to develop a quantifiable way to represent a person’s mental state. for which, you’d be up for another nobel prize.
Sorry you aren't satisfied. There's plenty of information out there about somatopsychic side effects and we know drugs alter mental states all the time. That's so well established, I find it laughable that anyone would even question it.
I'm not very interested in seeking the Nobel Prize in this area. I am busy doing other things that I fantasize will lead to a Nobel Prize.
I am sorry that I was not satisfied.
Mind alterations are induced by drugs. Chemical imbalances influence the same. I just am not convinced that these evidences are enough.
If you are sincerely interested in the topic, starting by being dismissive and disrespectful of the individual you are addressing is not an effective means to start a good discussion.
I did a research paper in high school on Functional Hypoglycemia. Chronic low blood sugar is known to promote anxiety and paranoia. I've blogged about managing various somatopsychic side effects with diet, such as eating oranges for the vitamin c while enduring random fits of rage to get that under control and eating beef with potatoes to mediate the salt lithium connection and calm bipolar-like mood swings.
But I am not interested in fighting some uphill battle to convince a skeptic who is just pissing all over me with every reply. So I had no reason to stick my neck out and share any of that. I get enough flak from the world for managing my medical condition with diet and lifestyle.
Edit: There's also lots of interesting stuff about nutrition and state of mind in this discussion about nutrition and the prison population: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16140867#16141719
all right. thank you for sharing the resources and information.
I am not invested in this topic, although I should be. In fact, some of the information you shared is valuable to my personal life.
I have a problem with oversimplification of hard problems, then claiming that they are currently understood. Then proceeding to build more extravagant and potentially dangerous solutions on the said platform.
The point you are debating - that of the influence of salts/neurotransmitters/more on brain chemistry, and hence on one’s mental state, can be so profound as to create a world where one experiences a vastly different emotional response to everyday events than what most others anticipate - is understood.
I contested that this is not enough to encourage experimentation with consciousness itself.
edit: the impact of chemistry can render itself in ways where the idea of one’s personality becomes fluid. chemistry can control my reaction to simple things, and render my ability to live my life debilitated. I understand that chemistry can shake at the very sense of having control over my self. I also understand that the external world barely acknowledges the role of chemistry in this, and likes to blame it wholly on the individual.
You are reading in something I never said or addressed in any way.
AFAIK, it's frequently linked to anxiety, and SSRIs do a good job of treating it.
I suffered this for... A month? I honestly can't remember. That whole time is unfortunately a blur. What triggered it for me was intense anxiety - I've read theories that DP/DR is your brains way of coping with extremely traumatic experiences, and retreats into itself. Fortunately for me, nothing of that sort happened to trigger my anxiety :) I've essentially fixed the anxiety with a lot of walking and meditation. I wouldn't wish the hell on my worst enemy. It can make depression seem desirable.
"DPDR is just your brain's ways to help you survive a situation you're unable to escape/fight. It tries to make you unaware of what's going on so you can endure it until it's over. It isn't supposed to be permanent. DPDR itself isn't anything to fear."
I've experienced this as well. Incredibly disorienting, and yet honestly it is the most relaxed I have been in my entire life. It was nice, nothing mattering; nobody mattering; nothing. Freedom from the weight of my own mind, for just awhile.
I've tried for years to recreate the effect with no success.
Interesting topic to ponder! Sadly will be written off in our age of pseudoscientism. If you want to explore further there are definitely ways to temporarily induce this state!
Any links to interesting sources about this?
Read the subreddit for DP/DR victims. Many tortured souls there.
How then do you explain how physical injuries and external stimulation to the brain affect the brain's operation in ways that we increasingly understand? Not saying we're anywhere close to having it all figured out. But this is the sort of question you have to address to accept dualism. I'd certainly like to believe there's something more to my conscious existence than this perishable gray matter.
I prefer to believe instead that I'm a character in an MMORPG. But if that's true, my consciousness still resides within the simulation. At best, the entity controlling me has some superset of my consciousness. At worst, my consciousness is still totally disposable, and my player is just interested in a fun ride.
Well of course you start getting worse reception if the antenna breaks.
How do you explain being normal and having almost no brain at all:
This looks like a good example of the 80/20 rule: 80% of our brain matter is dedicated to the hardest last 20% of IQ points. (Only being slightly tongue-in-cheek here.)
Also, there's probably usually a lot of brain matter dedicated to redundancy, memories, and enabling connections between ideas to foster creativity, and this person may be lacking in these areas in hard-to-measure ways. If most of our brain truly had no purpose, evolution would have selected against it forever ago. (Instead, evolution went through large lengths to keep our heads so big.)
I agree this could be the other side of the coin. I'm not totally one sided on this. Its possible that consciousness and sentience arises from sheer complexity, I'm just not totally convinced, and there appear to be outliers and unaccounted for anomalies. In this case, 10% = IQ of 80 and totally functional within society. Pretty astonishing still.
This argument works just as well (or badly) against the brain is just an antenna hypothesis..
I agree. I point this out purely as an outlier that doesn't fit well with the "you are a product of the complexity of your brain matter, period." In this case, only 10% of your brain! Pretty astonishing. The man was totally functional in society, even though he had an IQ in the 80s. A broken antenna still gets most of the signal maybe, just not the high definition stuff.
> At worst,
You're just an NPC
That's pretty much what Descartes proposed! (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interactionism_(philosophy_of_....
My favourite argument against this idea is that it would violate the law of conservation of energy. In any case it looks to me that all these dualist theories of mind are non-falsifiable
It's irrelevant anyways, I would argue that what makes you you is not the emergent/transferred via antenna/magic consciousness - a.k.a. sensation of being a aware of your brain's processes.
Rather, the brain's processes themselves are probably what makes you you. Regardless of whether they generate consciousness, the biochemical sensory-processing, storage-and-modelling, and decision-making algorithms (which we can detect by looking at synapses) are where you lie.
If your brain was somehow modified to take completely different decisions and make different statements ('dumb' magic-less rewiring), with the magic/antenna/emergent/quantum/whatever consciousness part kept intact, I am pretty sure that I would not consider the resulting being 'me'.
Of course everyone is free to believe otherwise.
Your "me" is going to disappear. How do you convince your "me" that it is necessary to disappear? One possible explanation is that you will get another "me".
We know all the matter that the brain is made out of, and we know what interactions are possible with that matter, because we've done extensive experiments with particle accelerators. If there were something that affected baryonic matter besides the four fundamental forces, we would know about it.
In other words, we know with certainty that there is no physical mechanism by which some "external consciousness" could influence the brain. So the answer to that hypothesis is a definitive "nope, that's not how it works."
CalTech quantum physicist Sean Carrol explains: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x26a-ztpQs8&t=836
Maybe you don't need to make as grand a leap outside of mainstream physics as you think:
This idea has zero basis. It's a mind-brain version of Russell's Teapot: I claim there is a teapot floating between Earth and Mars, and I challenge you to prove otherwise!
It's what the majority of the world believes, and science has no idea what consciousness is. So, there is zero basis parent is wrong.
Plus, there are all kinds of problems and contradictions if the mind reduces to matter.
>It's what the majority of the world believes
This has never been a good proxy for truth. It is also completely irrelevant given that the majority of the world has never studied neuroscience.
>science has no idea what consciousness is
Not true. Neuroscience has discovered a lot about consciousness. I recommend Principles of Neural Science if you're interested: https://www.amazon.com/Principles-Neural-Science-Fifth-Kande...
>Plus, there are all kinds of problems and contradictions if the mind reduces to matter.
Most of our life is lived off of beliefs the majority of the world believes. It is only an extremely small subset that we've reduced to science and technology.
Perhaps you can explain what science has discovered about consciousness. As far as I know, the closest is a network analysis metric used to signify whether something is conscious. But that does not tell us what consciousness is, only some of the necessary conditions, if that.
Here is a list of problems off the top of my head regarding material minds:
- Math is inherently immaterial. I cannot destroy the number 1. Infinity cannot physically exist. Negative numbers, zero, imaginary numbers, the real number line do not correspond to physical objects.
- If our mind is material, there is no way we can know any kind of truth. Truth doesn't really have meaning. Yet we do know some degree of truth.
- If consciousness is a particular configuration, then the same configuration is the same consciousness, which would imply instantaneous awareness of two completely distinct parts of the universe by the same consciousness with two copies of the configuration.
- Free will and qualia have no meaning in a materialistic worldview, yet are essential to just about everything we do everyday.
If only reality conformed to democratic norms...
It usually does, hence why they are democratic.
Matter + electricity.
What problems and contradictions?
How can matter + electricity access immaterial mathematical objects?
What do you mean by "access"?
We do math. Math is immaterial. How then can we do math if we are only material? Matter has no insight into the immaterial world.
> Has anyone actually tried to boot up an artificial brain derived from a real organism?
I've heard of this and have been eagerly anticipating some results. I'd like to see it trained to do something unique, uploaded, and that some behavior arise in the uploaded version. I'm not totally against consciousness arising from sufficient complexity, but I've yet to see it proven.
And then there are the normal people walking around with almost NO brain...
OpenWorm isn't a process for uploading a specific biological worm. It's a connectome for a generic C. elegans worm. Apparently they're all (more or less) the same.
Thanks for sharing this. Funny thing is, I've been thinking more and more that this seems like at least as plausible an explanation of consciousness as any, but hesitated to share the thought since, if it's not falsifiable, it's not really science (and we can't use the tools of science to verify it).
Still, I find it at least as likely as the "consciousness just sort of happens when information processing gets complex enough" explanation.
You might find this interesting https://www.quantamagazine.org/a-new-spin-on-the-quantum-bra...
Thanks. I have exact same thought.
Don't get me wrong, I think consciousness arising from sufficient complexity is also very much a possible answer, and I don't discount it. I'm just not totally convinced that there isn't more too it. Until a general AI arises, I don't think I will be convinced, and even if it did, who's to say it inst still just an approximation? Multiple AI intelligence domains slapped together with some approximation of a pre-frontal cortex. Even then, biology may still be something entirely different.
Sure, you start venturing into the supernatural realm talking about this, but who's to say that given sufficient time and study of this phenomena, the supposed "consciousness is everywhere" becomes the new natural science, and gives rise to new technologies we couldn't even conceive. It would be like discovering Electromagnetism all over again.
What if there's less to it? What if consciousness is just an illusion, "you" only really exist in the moment, and the feeling of a connection to the "you" of a moment ago and the "you" to come in the next moment doesn't reflect an actual continuing independent existence?
Yeah, this seems likely to be true, and also arguably really sad, since it means your consciousness essentially is "dying" every second. Fun times!
Well, on the other hand, we are able to create joy and the rich array of emotions we feel through those moments, and against the scale of an eternal(well.... ish..) universe, creating joy for a future being is about all we have, whether that's an iteration of ourselves or someone else.
Then again, the last time I checked we don't actually know if time is quantized or not, or if that's even a meaningful question.
A slightly modified version of this idea is explored in
> I'd like to see a proof of concept that your brain IS indeed the seat of your consciousness.
The concept of "multiple realizability" says that a brain/consciousness/mental state can arise from non-biological matter, like digital computers.
Modern proponents of this view do not view the brain as a seat of consciousness. To them, the view of a singular consciousness that houses in the brain like a theatre, is like a Descartesian illusion. Consciousness is distributed and all parts of "you" and your environment contribute.
As for "out there": I am always a bit worried when archeologists unearth some treasures with our current state of technology. Likely, in a 100 years they will have much better methods to research and preserve unearthed treasure, and so we may be spoiling their more effective methods by digging it up and putting it on display. What if, after the 8th great AI hype, another YC company claims it has found successful methods to upload your consciousness, which is 100% fatal to your preserved brain in the process? You'll be stuck in the MVP FORTRAN digital world of uploaded consciousnesses.
Or maybe they take our current infatuation with AGI to mean permission to create a huge ensemble of preserved brains, filling an entire room like did our 1960s computers, because it turned out that consciousness is only transferable to biological "organisms", and the only way to superhuman intelligence is to combine 20 human intelligences. The AI hype bubble will become a literal fulfilling prophecy.
I personally would either jail these consciousnesses (honor their will, but put them in a boring digital world with Archive.org access to the internet) or put them on display, much like we do with preserved Egyptian Pharaoh's. I'd call it Earth, and make Trump a president.
This was quite hilarious to envision. Thank you.
I myself worry that even if somehow we combine all these domain specific AI's with some approximation of a neo-cortex, and then every AI researcher says "See, there it is! Behold the AGI, told you there was nothing to it!", all we're REALLY going to get is an approximation of the real thing. Then we'll be too busy playing with our new AGI's to realize we missed the mark long ago. The new treasure preservation technology never even arises because victory was declared prematurely. We hit another mark instead of the real thing. Constant refinement of the bizarro superman version of real consciousness.
I hypothesize the REAL mark being that somewhere in the brain, quantum effects, maybe in microtubules, couple with some yet to be conceived discoveries or epithanies, act as a conduit to your real consciousness software existing somewhere "out there" in the simulation ether lets suppose. Extrapolate the AI hype and one day the super intelligent Matrioshka planet size brain emerges (YC backed of course), pours over ancient abandoned research and points out "Hey, you dumb monkeys missed something Yuge here eons ago..."
Even as a Christian, I think the idea of a human being more than the dust they're made of is only wishful thinking. If consciousness is not sourced from the brain, then why is memory so dependent on the brain?
Maybe memory is overrated in the great scheme of things.
sure, remove memory. and decision making, that's biochemical too. And personality? probably. Remove some impulses and reflexes and primordial pathways. Now that's the real you! What's left, though?
My comment was related to the OP comment. When you were born, you didn't have any reminiscent memory, because memory is intrinsically related to your physical brain. If you damage your brain, you could lose memory or change completely what you call "self". If you are a Christian and believe in after-life, a good way to reconcile this is downplaying the importance of memory itself (overrated). But this is related the OP's point of view (Christians believe in after-life). I, personally, don't believe in after-life, so everything you are is in your brain and memory is crucial.
FYI, I still believe in an afterlife. The bible talks about a resurrection where all will be raised from the dead for judgement. It's common misconception to think we float off to heaven or hell as disembodied souls. The difference is we will again have physical bodies, and thus have the capacity for consciousness and memory again.
Oh boy, I think I asked for that.
As a Christian, I tend to agree. I suspect the "soul" is simply the mathematical description of a particular consciousness (or class of consciousnesses).
The range of different effects that a brain injury can have on your mind is too great, IMO, for this to be true. Consider cases where people forget very specific classes of things, or gain or lose specific faculties, in response to neural trauma. Damage to the brain affects the functionality of the mind itself, not just how clearly the mind can see its inputs and convey its outputs.
Especially when you think about the studies on split-brain patients. That's hard to square away with the idea of our mind being somewhere else transmitting to us ... unless you hypothesize that for every person, there's two minds out there, each transmitting to half of your brain, and then your brain meshes their thoughts together ... but if your brain is capable of integrating the thoughts together, then the argument is weakening as clearly the brain has some thinking ability.
Yeah, for every experiment / example / specimen we know of that changes some function F of the mind, it rules out the possibility of F being performed 'elsewhere' and the results simply being received.
We're at the point now where your 'receiver' is doing basically all the work and, if it's connected to anything else, that thing just supplies formless 'mojo' that has no identifiable effect on the working of the mind.
See also: When you are drunk, it is not like you are fully lucid but unable to control your body or your mouth. Your mind/personality itself actually changes.
And of course you cannot will yourself to become drunk.
It is pretty trivial that the matter affects the mind, not vice versa.
I'm not sure what that person's version of the antenna idea is, but mine generally implies the brain is still in charge of the actual effects themselves, but needs somewhere to send it all to. The "somewhere" isn't chemical, and is just a receiver, and can't do anything if the sender (the brain) is damaged.
The "somewhere" is distinguished due to the fact that a given person is a specific person and not another person (if you deny this, this makes ethics and emphatic transfer unworkable, which doesn't seem right).
The trivial dismissal of most of these problems is to realize that whatever features we have must have evolved, and it would be a statistical miracle for the substrate that evolution discovered to just happen to be uniquely capable of dualism.
Also, does every animal with a brain have a dualist mind out there too? What's the limit? Does a worm with a few hundred neurons have a non-physical mind connection? Does your digestive system with its millions of neurons have its own non-physical mind out there too?
Even assuming that it is an antenna, then if your antenna is the only one receiving your consciousness then it is the seat of your consciousness or equivalent, i.e. its reasonable to assume that if you restore the antenna you will restore the consciousness in place (I am leveraging the fact that you called it a seat). On the other side of the coin, with embodied consciousness you could raise other potential issues with preservation of the brain alone. Connection between gut bacteria and mental conditions are being researched with some results confirming hypotheses there.
I completely agree that leaving out the gut-brain connection may be a huge error in our quest for General AI simulation. I'm not sure that I agree that simulating neurons in silicon form is equivalent to restoring the antenna though. There may be a quantum link that only neurons have functionally.
They are already finding quantum effects in plants:
And that our brain contains micro-tubules that exhibit quantum effects:
Maybe they ARE the antenna.
Well, maybe if that theory is true, then if the connection is "severed," so to speak, there's no way to restore it?
The burden of proof is on you to prove that there is a "quantum antenna".
This is like the guys who says "prove to me god doesn't exist". Well, it doesn't work that way. You came to me with the "god exists" or "there is an antenna that connects my brain to some magic world". You prove that it is there and show me how it works.
And this antenna does not necessarily reside in your brain. Fascinating TED lecture: E.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBGt5OeAQFk
Yes, this is an idea one discussed and heard discussed before.
Of course, everything we perceive the material world to be is merely a concept we are holding in our mind.
DNA is an idea.
What a fascinating idea. Did you take it from somewhere or did you conceive it by yourself? I would love to read about it.
This idea's been passed around the psychedelic community, even so far as to suggest a drug like LSD or DMT changes your brain chemistry enough that you receive a different form of consciousness, endowing one with everything from the ability to commune with "machine elves" to providing a priori insight into the unitary nature of existence. Unfortunately these ideas get weaved within New Age-type thinking and I tend to lend them no credence. 
Similarly, if consciousness is a fundamental component of the Universe/reality, it may not supervene (a technical term in philosophy) on the physical structures of the brain. 
 See the arguments of the philosopher David Chalmers.
I got interested in the notion of plant intelligence lately; my conjecture is: mushrooms produce psilocybin for themselves, to improve their own creativity and/or life experience :)
The brain has a fascination with itself.
It's "substance dualism" or "Cartesian dualism", if you're assuming that the "elsewhere" is somewhere non-physical. If you're assuming the elsewhere is somewhere in the material world, I don't know if there's a word for that, but its been discussed a couple times -- most memorably in Anathem, the Neal Stephenson book where I stole my username from :)
In my fantasy world, I personally always thought of it as a gateway to a higher realm where our consciousness exists.
It’s called dualism, and you’re basically proposing a soul in 21st century language. Like a soul, it’s not testable, and lacks any evidence in favor of it, while requiring a new set of assumptions which cannot be tested. You’re also proposing some kind of new physics, which again, is somehow complementary to and yet hidden from current current theories.
No new physics may be necessary:
There’s zero evidence of quantum mechanical effects playing a role in any aspect of cognition. Worse, the classical model suffices. Far worse, the review you cited has been thoroughly trashed.
The “quantum mind” is just another case of quantum mechanics being used as the new woo of choice where “because God said so” wouldn’t be well received. Believe me, I’d love to discover that we’re not just meat hurtling towards our own extinction, but the evidence doesn’t bear out a rosier hypothesis. Even with the surprising duration of coherent state in “hot” systems, the human brain is a poor candidate for a quantum mechanical system, and the math strongly supports that. Where quantum mechanics is concerned, math is God.
It is not hidden, we don't have a complete physical theory - quantum mechanics and general relativity are not compatible.
As an additional fun fact - we don't know how general anesthesia works.
Gaps in knowledge don’t imply gods in them, and especially really tight gaps imply nothing more than a gap in knowledge. The precise mechanism of GA isn’t certain, but it is known that disruption of hippocampal function is key, and no one is seriously suggesting thst it’s disconnection from “the soul” that does it. A theory of quantum gravity would be complementary to QM and GR, and that leaves no room for remote soul control either.
It’s just not scientific or rational to point at some things we don’t understand with the assumption that it must mean God did it. That’s mysticism and religion, not science, and if it uses the language of science, but not the substance it’s called pseudoscience.
If you want to postulate a soul within the rubric of QM/GR complementary theories, it’s very much on you to hypothesize and test. What field is carrying the signal? What machinery is receiving it? What’s sending it? Why is there no lag? Why is it all totally undetectable? Why are we trying to add a whole new set of assumptions on top of existing ones? Occam’s Razor really applies here, especially when it’s science vs. “devoutly to be wished.”
Just because we want reality to conform to ancient beliefs and present desires doesn’t make it so.
Nobody saying there is a god or soul, but explanation can be in unknown parts of physics and surprisingly we have that unknown parts.
We have unexplained phenomenon - consciousness, everyone (well, at least me) experience it. We don't have the mechanism for it, so we reject that phenomenon exists. I don't think it's a good idea to outright reject hypothesis, that have evidences behind it, but don't have a mechanism. Remember what happened to theory of washing hands for surgeons or to continental drift (it took half a century for it to be taken seriously!)
The fact that this kind of drivel is upvoted to the TOP, and has commenters seriously interested in it, makes me despair for the state of - not only cognitive science - but science in general.
Although on second thought, popular science has always been like this, and the ivory tower built by the PhD tradition still stands - so maybe it's too early to despair even with the anti-intellectual vibe of the modern world.
You haven't proven that it's not testable.
It's non-falsifiable, which is the actual standard of science, because we don't have a test for it yet. We'd have to have something to observe and measure, something to test. As some quick examples for this specific case:
* There are mental disorders, drugs, experiences that seem to imply dualism; those are entirely inside those people's mind with no way to prove those experiences are true, or simply products of the brain.
* Damage to a brain seems to change consciousness (this is falsifiable, and proven) which seems to suggest that it is where our consciousness is; damaging the receiver damages the connection, it's obvious that something must bind the consciousness.
This is a well thought about topic. If you have some sort of falsifiable test, please suggest it, otherwise, far wiser people have tried and failed to think of one (and as a note, it's up to you to prove that your hypothesis can be falsified, it's your claim).
> It's non-falsifiable
You just made an assertion. Now you have to prove it.
If the idea that the spirit is another fundamental force of nature is true, then it can be tested and be falsifiable.
I can't think of a test, many people haven't been able to, and neither can you apparently, until someone has a test it is effectively non-falsifiable.
Science isn't about proof, if observations change (primarily improve) then we change what we think we know. Which is why the above is all the "proof" I need. you can falsify it very simply. Provide a test. I have met my burden.
So, if you can't back up the assertion that it's not testable, you have "effectively" lost the argument.
Go back 90 years. How do you know there isn't a 4th fundamental force of nature?
Science isn't about making assertions and not being able to back it up.
> So, if you can't back up the assertion that it's not testable, you have "effectively" lost the argument.
I have backed up the assertion. I have pointed to the existing literature, and the many people who have tried and failed to write a test. I have a very basic hypothesis, one that could be broken by a very simple piece of evidence: a test.
But here is the real problem. You are treating this as an argument. And I am not. This isn't about winning or loosing to me, I am just trying to understand the universe better (as are the people above saying this isn't falsifiable), and you want to win. Besides if this were a proper argument, you'd have a clearly stated position I could argue against, and you don't seem to have one (outside of 'dualism can be proven', which is a ridiculous assertion, easily refuted).
> Go back 90 years. How do you know there isn't a 4th fundamental force of nature?
How do you know there isn't a fifth now? We have no clue how we would test for it, but there are unexplained phenomena which might involve a fifth force (dark matter and the perplexing way that gravity works for example). Saying something is non-falsifiable doesn't mean it's "proven" to be wrong. Just that science can't say anything about it yet. With more knowledge and more time we learn that our previous understanding was wrong, and that we can test for new things we couldn't even imagine before (and some that we could).
> Science isn't about making assertions and not being able to back it up.
You're right, it's not. Which is why I have been able to back it up, by pointing out that many very smart people (scientists among them) have tried to think of a way to test this and failed. My assertion stands with the caveat all science has: given what we know now. Science is wrong all the time - I don't mind being wrong about this - but for the time being it appears true. And that is what is useful.
If you think it's testable, then you should write up a test and, hopefully, carry it out.
That's kind of missing his point. "Russell's Teapot" is a mental exercise that states the person making the claim that is nonstandard of current thought needs to provide proof. He's suggesting that there IS some way to provide proof perhaps, one way or the other.
Doesn't work here, since Erlangolem made the statement that it's not testable.
Erlangolem made that explicit assertion, and now has to back up that statement up.
I don’t, because this is nothing new and all of the ground has been covered. The argument over an ability to test, or not, spiritual matters is older than us, and I doubt that this site wants theological arguments. In short, I replied to someone restating an ancient concept, and I replied with a very old rejoinder. Souls and gods are not rational, and the argument inevitably is just a matter of one side finding gaps in knowledge to shoehorn beliefs, and the other tightening the screws. It literally never ends, and it’s the opposite of intellectual stimulation.
If you really want that argument, life and the internet are overloaded with opportunities to have it until all parties are dead. Very little ever moves or happens, but occasionally someone gets a book deal.
That's a lot of words just to say "I can't really prove my statement or back it up with facts."
And, no, this isn't "ancient arguments" Fundamental forces of nature weren't all known until about 80 years ago, and there are plenty of unknown in science, including things like dark energy and whether the universe is a simulation. We don't even know if string-theory can be tested or not. It might take too much energy, or it might involve new science discoveries to test. Who knows.
In the end just don't make self-congratulatory assertions you can't actually back up, otherwise people like me will call you out on it.
This is what I've always thought. I think the structure of DNA or proteins themselves is that antenna that interacts with a fifth fundamental force of nature - which is that life spirit.
This is going to sound a bit out there, but what if your brain is simply an antenna for your consciousness to come through from wherever. Has anyone actually tried to boot up an artificial brain derived from a real organism? I'd like to see a proof of concept that your brain IS indeed the seat of your consciousness, and not just a fancy quantum antenna.
They aren't scanning the brains. They are just plasticizing them. The electron microscope scan was just to demo that the plasticizing actually worked, but it required cutting up the brain into slices. That isn't part of the procedure as far as I can tell.
My mistake then. That's unfortunate, and less interesting then.
It's unclear to me how the euthanized brain donors "win" in the absence of proof that memories can be recovered.
They're going to die anyway and get to contribute to scientific progress and get the best chance possible today for immortality.
They could contribute to scientific progress by donating the money to a research university. Depending on your concept of immortality donating sperm or eggs seems to have a higher chance of success.
It's not a guaranteed win, no. However, if they are at the point where they wish to be euthanized then their outlook is grim. However, even a minuscule chance is better than zero chance, correct? In addition, by donating their brain structure they're directly fueling the research needed to improve that chance.
They certainly don't lose. They are all to be patients who are going soon anyways, who opt for the process.
It seems interesting from the perspective of the customer, but the really interesting thing is that if this succeeds, they will have access to brain imaging data that no one else has. You can't normally get such detailed scans of a human brain, because it requires the human to die. It's a business model that allows them to accelerate the pace of research without the human rights violations that come from human experimentation. The real value in this company is in what research arises from the data they gather, while being funded by people paying to donate their brains to research. It's a diabolical everybody wins situation.
Backup is a misnomer here--it's a fixation of the biological tissues. So the format for preservation matches the structure of the original neural tissue down do the nanometer scale, which is a format nature has deemed appropriate to stabilize on the time scales we care about.
I agree that there's research to be done, which is why we're not offering a product at this time, and may not for years.
I would say that even more research needs to be done for any hope of a protocol that preserves synaptic details in postmortem cases hours after death (as many cryonics companies seem to be peddling). If you're saying "recently" to mean <20 minutes after death, that complicates the distribution enormously, but it's not outside the realm of what Nectome may develop later.
> Backup is a misnomer here
From their site:
"What if we told you we could back up your mind?"
Then why even say it requires euthanasia. If they are still researching it, would you want a non-destructive scan as the end functionality.
Honestly? Because we are new at press, and were pressed for how we might offer it in the near term.
What probability of restoration would be high enough to consider it? The future timelines in which restoration does happen are probably extremely interesting to be part of, given how far tech would have progressed. (There are lots of sucky future timelines too, say with nuclear holocausts, where you'd be unlikely to be restored.)
No: 100% chance of death.
Yes: 100-X% chance of death, X% chance of getting to see a super-interesting future.
For me, X wouldn't have to be very high to make it worth trying.
There's no chance of you getting to see a "super-interesting future". This comment is as weird to me as confusing a book on Relativity with Einstein. If you had a terminal disease, and a twin, would you expect to wake up in the body of your twin after death?
A twin does not have a shared memory history with yourself, though. I don't think its a stretch to say that two brains with the same memories are in fact, the same person identity-wise. It is why we are considered the same person after having a seizure, or falling asleep, or waking from a coma (or any other consciousness-halting event).
We're even more liberal with the concept of identity in society -- consider that I share nearly nothing (physical or memory) with 1-day old me, yet we are considered the same person.
If I had a terminal illness, and I had the option of having a healthy twin come into existence with all of my memories, goals, and creativity, I'd spend anything on that option. It's a shame if there's some sense it's not "really me", but what I care about is that my friends don't get a me-shaped hole in their lives, that my responsibilities continue to be taken care of, and my goals keep getting met in the way I hoped I could do.
Well, people raise children, mentor others, create art, build real and abstract things that outlive them. I'm not sure why a twin with your memories and abilities would necessarily be the best possible creation. To me, someone who can only be satisfied by that appears to be somewhat lacking in identification with the rest of humanity.
As someone relatively young still, if I found myself on an early deathbed, it wouldn't do much to comfort me to imagine that perhaps most others are content with what they've created by the time they reach their deathbed. The best thing for me would be more time to create things/impact myself, and the next best thing would be an agent that I'm confident that would finish up (or continue) those things the very same way I would've done. Maybe those aren't entirely different outcomes depending on the fidelity of the agent and my interpretation of identity.
The weird part is why you think you existed 10 minutes and why you think you will exist in 10minutes.
Logically, there is no reason I can give why in 10 minutes, my consciousness and yours will not switch places. If it happened in the past, neither of us would know. Yet I still experience being me right now, just "because".
Really, what we have here is a quasi-religio-philosophical argument for reincarnation. I'm somewhat sympathetic to the idea of reincarnation after death, in fact, but I think people who believe in uploading minds are implicitly pretending to have knowledge about the process that nobody has.
Any rules for where your consciousness ends up in the next instant in the event of a discontinuity are made up based on your preferences and prejudices. One may wish to believe that a computer that stores the patterns of your living brain captures your mind after you die, but it's no more or less valid (i.e. probable, provable) that the cliche that you are reincarnated into some particular living entity as reward or punishment for how you lived your life.
Reincarnation is, in my opinion, outside the realm of science, so I don't disbelieve in it, I merely doubt it is possible to know anything about it due to the impossibility of investigating scientifically.
...and "mind-uploading" is merely a subset of human invented systems of reincarnation.
Trade 99% chance of seeing tomorrow even if terminally ill for a 100% chance of not seeing tomorrow and a chance of resurrection which probability-wise is on a par with $insertreligionhere being broadly correct about the afterlife.
Assuming there is a cost, the trade off is reduced money to your heirs or charity.
So while it is non-zero, that doesn’t mean it’s worth the cost. That’s why I brought up backups.
Remember Zip drives for backup? Imagine if there was no reader at time of launch. And how likely it was to build the reader without any changes to spec that the existing Zip disk could be used to restore without any problems. Even with read and write available, those things didn’t work well. You could say “0% chance of restore if you don’t buy, but non-zero if you do buy; therefore buy.” But that only works if the cost is zero.
Would you pay 5% of your net worth for a 10% chance of recovery?
10% chance of recovery when? You can't talk about probability of a continuous unbounded time process without specifying a timeframe. Otherwise you end up with 100% or 0% as only possible answers.
That's true of a stationary Poisson process. But this is more like a race between two processes: developing the restoration tech vs. society collapsing or a fire in the storage facility. It's perfectly valid to talk about the probability of one continuous unbounded time process happening before another.
Certainly. But I wouldn’t pay 5% of my net worth for a 0.0000000001% chance of recovery. As it is now, the chance of recovery is approaching 1 ininfinity.
You’re just as likely to be “recovered” from a photograph. Or from your Facebook profile. Or by tracing neutrinos that passed through you during your lifetime. Or a rock with your name written on it with a sharpie.
All of these things have the same evidenced probability of assisting with your recovery.
“What if we told you we can backup your mind?” ...and never restore it.
As someone who has lived through many backup formats that stop being supported, don’t work, or decay with time this seems monumentally stupid as anything other than basic research.
I applaud their goal, digital sentience, but sorry for any of their customers. They need a pitch that works on the recently dead (eg, current cryo companies) as I don’t think there are any countries that allow euthenasia for life extension purposes.
> I hope nobody tells this guy about chemotherapy, he's gonna flip.
Or about vaccines. Or about antibiotics. Or about sterile surgery procedures. Or about running water and electricity. Or about....
Just about everything that makes up our modern quality of life was only available to a privileged class when it first came on the scene.
My bet is that future people won't be appalled in the slightest.
Something tells me that Professor Hendricks isn't living a Neanderthal lifestyle (or even a modern Third World lifestyle).
these are all significantly different from living forever
"I hope future people are appalled that in the 21st century, the richest and most comfortable people in history spent their money and resources trying to live forever"
I hope nobody tells this guy about chemotherapy, he's gonna flip.
"A copy of you is clearly not you, and no amount of handwaving is going to make that the case."
What an unnuanced way of stating your opinion. Views on what "identity" is differ, clearly.
The philosophical difference between the two groups is very interesting. I tend to agree with your take, and would greatly prefer to see advances made in reversible vitrification so it can be widely used.
Underneath it all, this is a manifestation of an important split in the cryonics community.
One group is (I think overly) critical of present vitrification approaches and the planned future of those approaches. They believe that these approaches are broken, and nothing of value is preserved. I think this is just as ridiculous as saying there is no room for improvement - it is clearly the case that, e.g. nematodes vitrified using the present technologies can be restored and show preserved memory.
That group has a strong overlap with pattern identity theorists, who are quite comfortable with a copy of them living in the future, and throwing away the original brain.
So the intersection of these two groups is motivated to work on technologies such as aldehyde-stablized cryopreservation (vitrifixation) that are incompatible with the future goal of thawing, restoration, and repair, as they are not reversible short of far distant molecular nanotechnology. Their aim is to produce the best possible record of data of the mind with the intent of reading into a machine environment in the future, then discarding it.
To my eyes this is a terrible, terrible, mistaken view on identity, and one that will cause a great deal of existential harm when it is extended from theory to action.
The rest of the cryonics community is interested in a technology path that leads to reversible vitrification in the near future, and some kind of union with the tissue engineering / organ engineering community. They want the flesh restored and repaired, and the end goal of cryopreservation is some form of advanced cell/bio/nanotechnology that can achieve that end.
This is why Alcor, etc, is not adopting vitrifixation.
So on the one hand, great to see progress, and vitrifixation is an excellent advance in tissue preservation in the general sense. It will be of use in many areas of research. On the other hand, pattern identity theory seems to have many of the aspects of religion. A copy of you is clearly not you, and no amount of handwaving is going to make that the case.
You don't think that freezing a brain in this way is likely to produce a lot of generally valuable scientific knowledge, regardless of whether it leads to something like "immortality"?
I disagree. I bet they'll learn all kinds of useful stuff from this, however it turns out.
Let's start here:
> In 2013, 138.3 million taxpayers reported earning $9.03 trillion in adjusted gross income and paid $1.23 trillion in income taxes. 
Assuming the taxes collected this year are even remotely similar, and assuming this grant came 100% from income tax, and assuming you pay an equal amount in taxes as everyone else, this grant cost you (960000/1.23 trillion)=1/1281250 of the taxes you paid. I know that's a lot of assumptions, but even if that calculation is off by several orders of magnitude, the tax burden is pretty darn small. If you earned $100,000 last year you paid roughly 8 cents for this. It could open up doors to a lot of interesting research. Maybe nothing will come of it. I'd pay 8 cents to find out though.
Also, who says this is "the elite" wanting to live forever and us schlubs footing the bill?
> Also, who says this is "the elite" wanting to live forever and us schlubs footing the bill?
I think it's reasonable to think that's someone that is ready to put aside $10,000 in the eventually of an accident leading to coma for the small odds that future people will be able and willing to give him a new body is probably part of the elite.
True, but the research involved could be applicable to a lot more situations that aren't specifically this. Peering deeper into the brain than currently possible sounds pretty useful.
...because it will be the rich who can afford such an exclusive treatment.
Additionally, it's just straight up irrational--quantity of life does not improve quality. It is a better decision to spend your money on your quality of life. Why even waste 8 cents on this? Peter Thiel can pay for all the young blood he wants, so long as it ain't my tax payer money.
I get your hesitation, but for me the real value is in this sentence:
> It has also won a $960,000 federal grant from the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health for “whole-brain nanoscale preservation and imaging,” the text of which foresees a “commercial opportunity in offering brain preservation” for purposes including drug research.
The rich can do what they want, invest in the businesses they want, and no I don't necessarily want my tax money used for those purposes. But this research sounds like it has potential to be really valuable to humanity as a whole, commercial applications notwithstanding. And that's how science in this country works. Either it's funded by a company like Pfizer where it's locked behind gilded doors or it's funded by taxes and carried out at a university where it's open for all to look at, and given those options I know my preference.
I hope they use the fund to cure themselves of their grandiose fantasies of enabling immortality. The brains they "preserve" will end up in a trash can 10-20 years down the line when their company fails or management changes.
Reminds me of Alcor and Ted Williams. Or the myriads of "companies" that promise preserving your stem cells but in reality it's just one guy with a LN2 tank in his basement.
> It has also won a $960,000 federal grant from the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health
I have nothing against the elite trying to live forever. However, I wish they weren’t using our taxes in the process.
Charles Sheffield wrote a novel based on this premise.
"[H]e devotes all his energies for a decade prior to his freezing, in becoming an expert primary source on the musically notable people of his era. Assuming that if you become the world's foremost expert in any subject, and given infinite time, someone will want to write a book on that exact subject."
If I recall correctly, the protagonist intentionally leaves tantalizing bits out of his books, so future historians will want to wake him up to ask him personally.
You memorize the bitcoin private key before preservation. In a way that requires consciousness to reconstruct.
Public key verifies the value and there’s a smart contract with some percentage to the successful recoverer.
Depending on the recoverer’s profit margin they will restore whenever there’s enough value to make it worthwhile.
Whether bitcoin will exist and whether it will appreciate is a different story. But assuming bitcoin exists, resurrection is a certainty.
Then they threaten to resurrect you 1000x and torture each of your resurrected selves for 1000 years unless you tell them the private key.
Roko's basilisk meets bitcoin.
Meets Altered Carbon. But if you wake up in virtual reality, when you enter your key, how can you keep them from taking it from you? You'll never know if you are being man-in-the-middled.
We constructed a whole reality to steal your keys - the world's most advanced phishing attack.
In the world of altered carbon, it's pretty trivial to boot someone's mind up in a vr, even poor people at home can do it.
This is basically the thesis of evangelical Christianity.
That's what "Roko's basilisk" mentioned upthread is. An AI cyberpunk version of evangelical Christianity.
This is a bigger problem. But the smart contract should be verifiable if the blockchain still exists. If it doesn’t then your currency is probably worthless so resurrectors won’t bother.
Although I’m not sure how you would verify your messages with private key without revealing to whatever is managing your consciousness’ memory.
Well, you could deliberately enter false credentials to your old email addresses, checking if you were connected to the real world, mixed in with some correct creds. And see if it works as expected. But this is pretty hard to remember. Suppose you just wanted to do this with a variety of gmail addresses just using memory. Would they still be even working? I probably have about 10-15 passwords I use frequently enough that I could use them to verify if I was connected to the real thing. I could enter a few fakes. It's an interesting question, how can you tell if you are in a vr or not via credential checking with deliberate fakes.
Yeah but by the same logic as The Simulation Hypothesis if I am not being tortured now Rokos basilisk will never come to pass.
The simulation hypothesis just means you have a very low chance, not that it's zero.
That will likely be more expensive than just resurrecting you.
I’d structure with smart contracts with a certain price for digital. Another price for full physical. Keep other assets outside of consciousness in legal trusts.
There may be torturers, but likely non-torturers as well. Knowing this, tortured versions of me won’t crack as they don’t care.
So then this becomes something like the fast money/slow money system in Charles Stross's Neptune's Brood: people destroy their physical bodies to take slow trips to distant locations, preparing themselves by stockpiling slow money, like bitcoin, that will have significant value in the future but may not have so much now.
I hadn’t read that, but I added it to my list. Sounds interesting.
There have been compound interest sci-fi for a while. I remember the Lazarus Long stories by Heinlein and Orson Scott Card wrote Worthing Saga.
Why restore the whole brain if the value is in the private key? Why not just read the private key from the brain and steal it?
I would go the old fashioned route and store the Bitcoins in a bank safe and prepay it for 200 years, by which resurrecting people should be either trivial or humanity won't exist). Still, there's no trustless way to do this.
Kindness. It's an endangered species nowadays but it used to increase with time and wealth, and perhaps when wealth rises again the trend will return.
Or I'll do it myself if I can.
Would probably start out as being prohibitively expensive and trend towards relatively cheap if it's possible and there's demand. If it's possible then it's hard to imagine there not being demand.
>likely to be a very expensive process.
Obviously it's a huge punt with no guarantee of success, but I would think that in a future that supports such a procedure, the concept of "expensive" won't exist to the same degree as it does now.
Current trends show a future with a higher population and more income inequality. This describes a world where "expensive" is still a thing.
I'm not saying you are incorrect about the future, just pointing out it's against several long term trends.
Current trends show a stabilizing population around 11 billion just after 2100.
Income inequality and “expensive” are not exclusive. If the median income is $1B in current dollars with lots of zettanaires (10^21 vs 10^9 for bikkionaires) you will have high income inequality but still have plenty with few things expensive.
Income inequality, with no other info, is not necessarily bad.
>Income inequality, with no other info, is not necessarily bad.
I hold a contradictory view. Inequalities in income and wealth means inequalities in power. Inequalities in power lead to unstable social systems. My view is that this holds true regardless of the baseline standard of living.
>11 billion just after 2100
Right, so current trends show a 30% growth in population between now and 2100. That doesn't contradict what I said.
EDIT: I'd like to specify all inequalities do not lead to unstable systems, but very large inequalities do.
The population won't stabilize around 11 billion in the unlikely event that affordable solutions to significantly extend life exist, never mind the technology to resurrect the dead from stored brains...
That’s a good point. But it will stabilize at a higher point. Life extension means fewer children. Just like urbanization means fewer children.
The trend is that as societies become more organized, there are fewer kids.
You can leave money to be paid to whoever revives you. The money will be invested so as to not lose value. Eventually the cost of revival will fall below the reward, and you'll be revived.
Obviously several things could go wrong, but the plan isn't obviously doomed.
that's why you bury some treasure and keep the location locked away in your brain!
And hope they haven't learned to synthesize it or mine it from asteroids when it's time to wake up.
I have thought about building a project that would try to maintain wealth after my death. I imagine the components of this as being...
1. Logic to accumulate wealth. This would need an API to create and manage an investment account for stocks, bonds, crypto, whatever. It analyses current and historical data for a time, then makes investment decisions based on minimizing risks and long term gains.
2. A reproduction module. This would be responsible for finding a freelance programmer to produce new versions of each module keeping the system current. This would need methods like findReliableFreelancer or provideSpec runTests and issuePayment.
3. Cloning. Like the Reproduction module, but this will be done entirely with the system's own code and not recruiting a new developer. E.g. create a new AWS account, get a new host, copy your modules, get it running, do the sanity checks, provide it seed money.
4. Orchestration. The various hosts running this code would need to communicate, reporting their existence, the money they have available, etc. If the system winds up having some purpose (e.g. convincing someone to restore me after death) then orchestration might come up. Otherwise this could be used to limit reproduction, stop sharing resources with bad actors, and share resources with good actors. This would also need to track which systems we were already running on (e.g. if we are currently 80% on AWS we should direct expansion towards Digital Ocean, or future equivalents, try to expand into different languages, countries, and planets).
I imagine kicking the project off a decade or two before my anticipated death in order to work out kinks and to hopefully live long enough to verify it will actually work and grow in real life conditions.
After my death, I imagine it running for centuries, slowly accumulating more and more wealth. Perhaps disbursing some amount every decade if I could think of a way to track descendents. Maybe asking people to restore me from cryo freezing. Maybe just creating a legal puzzle for folks 500 years from now, when they have to unwind what might be a multibillion dollar fortune belonging to someone long gone.
Reconstructing a human in silico from a dead brain is likely to be a very expensive process. Why would anyone in the future be interested in going through with it for any more than a few select old brains when there will be plenty of dead brains to go around at that time?
Is it still you when you wake up every day?
What about after general anesthesia?
You only know you are you because of your memories. The future brain will have the memories, so it will think it's you, just like you think today that you are the same you that were awake 3 days ago and 10 years ago.
Are you afraid of nonexistence when you fall asleep, and envy the tommorow's you that he will live in your body and get to see what the future brings?
I don't think there's much difference between these scenarios - the conciousness is interrupted in both cases.
I think there is. If you cloned me while I'm sleeping and I never knew about it, you could torture and kill the other "me" and I'd be none the wiser, so that definitely seems like it isn't "me" because for whatever definition of me that I have, it involves this particular instance of conscious experience. Other conscious experiences, even if they are similar, are not me if they don't share my conscious experiences.
Programming wise, I'm an instance of an object, not a class.
This is the part I'm always surprised people don't seem to get. If someone makes an exact copy of me, the original me is still going to think "I'm me. That other thing is a copy of me."
So, if the original me has to die for the clone to be created... unless my consciousness somehow jumps to the clone, I experience a death which I do not come back from.
> unless my consciousness somehow jumps to the clone
You don't have conciousness when you sleep (at least during some parts of it). Your conciousness disappears every night for several hours and is recreated every morning. Why is it not a problem, but when there is 2 of you - it suddenly becomes a problem?
If you were sleeping while someone made a clone - would that make it OK? If no - why?
There's no evidence of anything external that has to "jump".
I disagree that I disappear during states of "unconsciousness". Sleep/general anesthesia/drugs are just different states of brain activity, but I'm still "me" during these states. We don't say people become no one, or someone else when they sleep.
So, a copy of your consciousness (if such a thing is possible) is different than sleeping. No matter how much the clone believes it is me, it will never be me. I still die in my scenario, even though the other feels differently about it.
To add to that, asking "who am I" is a philosophical question, and I'm not a strict empiricist, so I don't categorically dismiss the idea that there exists an "I" outside of my natural body.
I think the point about unconscious states was not that you "become no one", but rather that it is an interruption to the continuity of consciousness.
As a thought experiment, imagine you were magically replicated during sleep such that, at the time of replication, both "you"s were completely physically identical. Both would wake up thinking that they are the same person that went to sleep, but now there are two of them. Are either/both/none of them "you"?
My answer would be that they both are, and don't think there's anything special about our physical selves, nor any reason that we're limited to being singletons (to give a code analogy). The combination of our physical self and our cumulative experience and memories are what defines "us". Thinking of identity in possessive terms and the desire to think of ourselves as unique is a quirk of psychology, I think.
What about multiple personality disorder? Are there 2 of you time-sharing a body?
I don't see how you can distinguish "different brain-states that are still me", and "different brain-states that are not me" other than by looking at the data in these brain-states. If the data is the same - what makes it ok to say "these 2 brainstates are the same person, and these 2 are not"?
> We don't say people become no one, or someone else when they sleep.
We say a lot of things that are wrong or simplified, it's not an argument anymore than the word "sunrise" is an argument for geocentrism.
> I don't categorically dismiss the idea that there exists an "I" outside of my natural body.
I agree that existence of souls would change things, but it's untestable and unnessesary to explain all phenomena we experience, so I consider it a waste of time to discuss these.
So if someone said they'd shoot you in your sleep, but replace you with a clone with your memories and give that clone $100. You'd do it?
No, that's not even what they're saying.
They're basically saying killing them in their sleep is not a problem. That's where that logic goes. Because you die when you go to sleep.
As long as someone who is exactly like me with my memories and thought processes is created in the morning.
I'm not sure, are you comfortable living one day only, and leaving all the problems to be for future you to take care of? Because for that logic, you basically don't exist that much at all, and the moment you go to sleep, the rest of your life is somebody else's problem, because you effectively die. That is what you're saying (and that is what people like us would expect from mind upload).
So you tell me why it's a problem, but it seems, I may go to sleep all I want, but when I wake up the next day, all my problems are still my own. I doubt that if someone makes a clone of me, and I go to sleep, that I'm going to wake up as them and that other clone. How would that even work if there's two of us? There's only one of "me" to go around.
Oh, it's very awkward, yes, because it implies there's something else going on here that is required to hold this information, but we're all supposed to think that's impossible...
> all my problems are still my own.
Or you can decide the leave everything and become a monk. I don't see how that's an argument one way or another.
> There's only one of "me" to go around.
Why? It seems to be the crux of your argument, but you don't justify it in any way.
> Or you can decide the leave everything and become a monk. I don't see how that's an argument one way or another.
You seem to have missed what I said.
I mean that, if I don't wash the dishes today, and I go to sleep, it's still me who's going to have to wash those dishes tomorrow. It's not someone else. It's me. That "me" is the question. I can't just not wake up as "me" tomorrow. If continuity wasn't a thing then the concept of "me" shouldn't exist at all, so there would be no responsible party in the first place, but every morning I find that I need to wake up, go to work, and then sometimes wash the dishes.
Of course, the entire experience of "me" can be falsified by a 3rd party, sure, but the world itself could also be falsified, neither of these beliefs are particularly actionable. But "the person who didn't wash the dishes and the person who then suffers the consequences is a continual entity" is actionable, it means I should wash my dishes.
> Why? It seems to be the crux of your argument, but you don't justify it in any way.
Because I can't wake up and control two people at the same time. That doesn't even happen in the case of multiple personality disorder.
> I can't just not wake up as "me" tomorrow
You sure can. You could have a stroke and change personality completely. The fact that it's still considered "you" by society and the future you doesn't mean it's true.
> "the person who didn't wash the dishes and the person who then suffers the consequences is a continual entity"
This only requires you to believe that the future you is you, it doesn't require it to be true. It's similar to arguing "There must be a God, because why else would I pray". Well you can simply be wrong.
> If continuity wasn't a thing then the concept of "me" shouldn't exist at all
Why? There's a lot of concepts out there that exist contrary to facts. Free will probably doesn't exist. Absolute time doesn't exist yet people use it routinely as their model of reality.
> I can't wake up and control two people at the same time. That doesn't even happen in the case of multiple personality disorder.
You could make a device that controls muscles of another body basing on your neural impulses. Would that change your opinion about identity and consciousness? I doubt it. If I'm right, then that's not your real argument.
Give me your real argument, please.
> If you cloned me while I'm sleeping and I never knew about it, you could torture and kill the other "me" and I'd be none the wiser
If I tortured you, then healed you and removed your memories you would be none the wiser as well. Does that mean I weren't torturing you, but someone else?
If I cloned you, tortured your clone and killed it while you were asleep, then merged his memories to you - was it you who I was torturing or not? Why is the difference meaningful?
Programming isn't very good analogy, because there is no definition of conciousness, so even if we recreate the problematic situations in some programming model - we still don't have any answers. Example:
You can serialize an instance of a class, delete the instance, then deserialize it. The memory address will be different, the == operator in some languages will return true, in many others - false, but there's no one answer if the object is the same or not when it comes to conciousness. There is no clear analog of pointer identity in real world. If we had evidence of souls that would be it, but we don't :)
Some GC languages can move objects in memory when the application is running. Is this the same object? What does this say about conciousness? Nothing IMHO.
When GC moves object in memory and updates all references to it - is this the same object, or a different one? What if it created a pool of objects, serialized object at address 1, loaded a different object there, and deserialized old object from address 1 to address 2? Is the object at address1 or the object at address 2 the old one? The pointer equality isn't very useful here.
> for whatever definition of me that I have, it involves this particular instance of conscious experience
Then sleeping is the same as death.
> If I cloned you, tortured your clone and killed it while you were asleep, then merged his memories to you - was it you who I was torturing or not? Why is the difference meaningful?
If I merged the bash logs where I nuked rm -rf / on a given computer into the logs of one where I have not ran that command, the result is not the same.
> You can serialize an instance of a class, delete the instance, then deserialize it.
This would not be the same object since you can do that, but not delete the object.
Programming is a great analogy. I think the answer for identity/consciousness, even in programming involves an uninterrupted flow of unique locations in time/space that has continued existing as a cohesive whole.
> Some GC languages can move objects in memory when the application is running. Is this the same object?
In general, if there can be "two" instances simultaneously utilizing a given approach (like mind transfer), then it is not the same "one." But this is a flow, so ship of theseus alterations like you propose do not change identity, they are part of the flow.
> Then sleeping is the same as death.
I can't rule that out, actually, although I seem to be conscious some of it, so there's that.
> If I merged the bash logs where I nuked rm -rf / on a given computer into the logs of one where I have not ran that command, the result is not the same.
What if you had 2 git repositories, and merged changes from one to another? Or 2 disk images?
Why would memories be logs and not contents of the repository in this analogy? And if you care about changes to the brain state that aren't memories - just add these changes to the brainstate. You argue that no matter how perfectly we merge these brainstates, it's still not "me" after the merge. I argue - if there's no difference after the split, then the question is meaningless.
> This would not be the same object since you can do that, but not delete the object.
So what? Why would existence of a copy change anything? In programming it doesn't, yet you seem to argue it does.
You can make a clone of a disk or a memorydump, and restore it on another computer. Why would the uniqueness matter? You can run 100 copies on 100 computers and use that for redundancy.
When a program is running on modern CPU it executes code predictively, going both ways on some ifs. Does that split identities into 2 and immediately kills one of them?
Let's say for a moment that universe is a simulation, and there is a backup. Does that make "us" suddenly not "us" because there is a copy? Why?
Because of all these corner cases I don't think programming is a good analogy.
> Why would existence of a copy change anything? In programming it doesn't, yet you seem to argue it does.
It isn't the copy that changes things. It is the potential of a copy that makes it glaringly obvious that the result is not the same instance. If there is some process that makes a second me, I don't have access to the copy of me's thoughts. This proves second me isn't actually me because I'm still here, and we are trying to define what I am, and at-minimum, my definition of my consciousness does not include other consciousnesses which I don't have access to.
> Does that split identities into 2 and immediately kills one of them?
While I think programming isn't perfect as an analogy, there is no other vein in which people think that has as many good metaphors for this. On the contrary, I think these corner cases are where you can actually refine your reasoning about these things. I think many of your corner cases are really useful because it is entirely conceivable that many could leave the realm of silicon and enter the world of flesh and blood (like memory merges, etc).
> It is the potential of a copy that makes it glaringly obvious that the result is not the same instance.
Well for me the potential for a copy doesn't make anything obvious or impossible.
> second me isn't actually me
Then who is it?
It remembers being you.
Ok, I have a clone of you in the other room and a gun. I am going to kill either you or them. You pick. Who do you pick? Why?
My suspicion is that most people suddenly realize they prefer the instance of their consciousness they are inhabiting.
If you merge our memories afterwards it doesn't matter who you kill. Otherways it's a murder.
There's no merge. The question is not whether it is a crime, that's irrelevant.
The question is, which one you prefer I terminate. You, the one I'm talking to, or the other person in the other room. The preference most people have is "the other one" which pretty much lays bare that these two instances are not, in fact, equivalent because they are "in" one of these consciousnesses, and not the other.
If there's no merge, then these 2 copies diverged and are not the same, so I prefer me. If there was a merge then there should be no difference.
> then these 2 copies diverged and are not the same
For me, this implies divergence, even divergence of location (which happens automatically on a copy) is a change of identity, and so true identity must be inextricably linked to a continuity of location through time. Because of this, I reason that any copy operation, even a destructive one, is a change of identity and not-me, because it is really just a creation of a second instance and as mentioned, I would prefer this instance keep running over another if faced with my murderous thought experiment.
If merged into me, I agree it could become part of new-me.
Brain activity continues during sleep and general anaesthesia (even in the absence of sufficient electrical energy to show up on an EEG scan, chemical reactions are taking place). I see no reason whatsoever to believe that this continued brain activity bears no relation to our perception of continuity in consciousness.
I think the question you seem to be asking flippantly deserves more thought than you are giving it.
Even if memories are structural, network theory tells us that all parts of a network are not necessarily visible or accessible from all points at all times. The "You" making an executive decision could only be seeing a subset of your entire memory structure.
This difficulty can be even more clearly expressed by looking at the how neural networks even work. It's not just structure that determines output. It's a combination of structure and sigmoid function, spread out over time as results of previous computations fine tune the network.
You'd have the hardware to run your person on, but you'd have no information on the full informational state stored by which circuits are firing, which are building up to fire, and how fast each one is building up.
Even if you did, you'd lack a "reboot" harness capable of generating that state on demand across the entire brain that could both physically share the same space the brain is occupying AND not interfere with the mechanisms by which it operates.
What you haven't realized is that your conception of identity has been fine tuned since birth through your use of language to represent "You". Whatever woke up after the theoretical reboot would NOT be the "You" that went into it. It would be "You" to itself. Little more, little less.
If you sit down and think it through, you should be able to realize that even if you could build something to do this theoretically, practically implementing it would be a fool's errand courtesy of physics. Namely sensitive dependence on initial conditions, and the Pauli Exclusion Principle.
Nevermind the Engineering considerations. How do you measure a successful reboot? What is your error tolerance?
Or the sociological/ethical implications. Can the environment/society support you? Could you adapt? Would you even be able to assimilate? Would you bring some sort of toxic ethic or moral taint that the society has considered taboo?
Hell, we have kids based on a natural drive endemic to our biology. Now you're talking about placing on our descendants the literal decision of "Should we let this one exist to influence us?"
Maybe it seems I'm being flippant, but I gave it quite a lot of thought. It's one of a recurrent themes of "rationalist" sci-fi, a genre I like very much.
> You'd have the hardware to run your person on, but you'd have no information on the full informational state stored by which circuits are firing, which are building up to fire, and how fast each one is building up.
You just include that in the brainscan.
> It would be "You" to itself.
Yes. And I think this is enough. Current me would be a stranger to me 20 years ago.
> How do you measure a successful reboot? What is your error tolerance?
There was a sci-fi story where people had backup chips in their brains that measured all activity and learned over years to simulate that activity. If the simulated and real activity agreed to 99.999% over a long period of time the biological brains were euthanized and the chip took over the body.
IMHO it's quite good standard for error tolerance. If all measurable effects are the same for a long period of time (let's say a year).
I'm not persuaded Pauli Exclusion Principle is making this impossible, it depends on how sensitive our brains are to quantum effects, and I don't think we have data one way or another (do correct me if I'm wrong).
It might be impossibly high standard, but even then - if my future decisions depend on quantum fluctuations that will be simulated differently on a different hardware - my current identity isn't built on these future decisions YET. If we're really throwing dice making some decisions - I don't consider these dice or these results to be part of my identity now. If I reverted time and got a different decision the second time - I'd still think of that person as me, just in a different mood.
As for disruption of society, economy, etc - sure, these are big concerns. But we're talking philosophy here, not sociology.
There's a game called Soma which has a plot that largely revolves around this question. You play as a man who wakes up mysteriously in an underwater facility as a circumstantial consequence of a "brain scan" you took 100 or so years ago.
The "is it still me?" question pops up over and over throughout the game. It's incredibly thought provoking.
This question descends from an ancient philosophical question; see the Ship of Theseus.
CGP Grey has a good look at the question wrt Star Trek teleportation.
If you want to get into some of the literature around mind uploading, I'd start with some of Daniel Dennett's work such as "Consciousness Explained". If you think that it's possible for a computer program to have its own sense of self, then it's interesting to think about what it would feel like for that program to be stopped, copied to a new computer, and then started again. There's definitely a lot of literature and debate around these issues!
I'm not sure that a book written by a dude whose position is basically, "the direct experience you have of your own consciousness is an illusion" is necessarily the best choice for exploring what a "sense of self" or "mind" are all about.
"Consciousness Explained" should really have been titled "Consciousness Explained Away".
> In the case when you die, but your brain still exists, and it starts processing it again in a new host (computer or organic), isn't that not you anymore?
I've yet to come across any evidence of a "self" that exists outside a brain.
> Is this a solved philosophical problem for which literature exists?
It's a problem that was hypothesized (and not solved) by philosophy, but as far as I know there's no evidence the problem exists.
You can hypothesize any number of problems but if there isn't any evidence they exist, there's not much urgency in solving these problems.
What if invisible monsters are breeding all around us and building up numbers before they wipe out the human race? There's equal evidence that this could be happening, and the consequences are more immediately dire, so perhaps we should discuss that first?
> invisible monsters are breeding all around us [...] before they wipe out the human race
See also, the germ theory of disease. I think we have this covered already...
Haha fair enough.
This is really NOT the topic that most people are OK handwaving away simply because the evidence isn't there, because this topic is older than the concept of science itself and it's the #1 thing that gives anything around here any meaning whatsoever.
Inventing the scientific method doesn't mean you get a carte blanche to call invalid everything you haven't gotten around to understanding with it.
This is not a solved problem and if someone gets this tech it's going to become an issue. A political issue, not a scientific one, because this one is in the region of politics, science doesn't know what's going on here.
> This is really NOT the topic that most people are OK handwaving away simply because the evidence isn't there
Whether people are okay with an idea has very little relation to whether it's true.
> this topic is older than the concept of science itself
On the contrary, what makes science important is that it doesn't just exist in the imaginations of humans, it exists in reality. Incidentally, reality predates humans.
> it's the #1 thing that gives anything around here any meaning whatsoever.
I derive meaning in my life from curiosity, from beauty, from relationships with other people, from fun. Incidentally, all of these things clearly exist, and aren't so fragile that I feel threatened if someone on the internet says they don't exist.
Just because you have chosen to base the meaning of your life on a belief in self existing outside the brain doesn't mean anyone else is obligated to pretend that exists.
I'd argue that the underlying reasons you think the idea of a human self outside the human brain is meaningful is that you associate it with community (religion) anyway. Beliefs aren't necessary to have that.
> This is not a solved problem and if someone gets this tech it's going to become an issue.
I didn't say it was a solved problem; I said it's a nonexistent problem.
> A political issue, not a scientific one, because this one is in the region of politics, science doesn't know what's going on here.
The facts of whether a human self exists outside of the human brain is totally within the region of science.
Whether we as a society try to force your beliefs on people is within the region of politics. I would like to see some evidence that the problem exists before we start making laws to solve it.
> Whether people are okay with an idea has very little relation to whether it's true.
It has a relation to what degree of evidence people will find satisfactory. Science alone is not sufficient for most people to carry on their lives, and this is one of those topics. This is not an argument for it being true or false, it's an argument against waving it away as a problem on the basis of "well we don't have any proof of it". Of course you don't have any proof of it.
There's no solid proof that solipsism isn't true, either, but that doesn't mean I am going to start believing people around me aren't real and don't feel, just because there's no evidence. Science also doesn't have any concrete evidence that being a dick is not a good idea, should I drop that, too?
> I derive meaning in my life from curiosity, from beauty, from relationships with other people, from fun. Incidentally, all of these things clearly exist, and aren't so fragile that I feel threatened if someone on the internet says they don't exist.
None of these exist if there's no "you" to speak of. Who's curious? If you die every time you go to sleep, curiosity doesn't strike me as a very meaningful concept. That's what I mean by meaning. Basically all the things you list here rely on a stable concept of "you".
> The facts of whether a human self exists outside of the human brain is totally within the region of science.
I am not talking about a "human self", there's nothing human about it since it's not tied to a specific body or a body at all in the first place. Sometimes I wonder if the problem is that people are still talking about the old concept of "soul", complete with consciousness and memories. I'm not talking about that, I'm talking about an address.
> Whether we as a society try to force your beliefs on people is within the region of politics. I would like to see some evidence that the problem exists before we start making laws to solve it.
People using devices that upload their minds or break continuity is absolutely going to get political I guarantee it, and I can completely imagine people being forced and coerced to use such devices because it's convenient to someone else and because "well the evidence doesn't say there's a problem". Because if you go with that belief, you're not doing anything bad, and the person thinking you're murdering them is just ignorant in your eyes.
Hopefully we'll have a more flexible reasoning system by then that didn't completely throw philosophy in the dumpster because we're too smart for it.
> It has a relation to what degree of evidence people will find satisfactory. Science alone is not sufficient for most people to carry on their lives, and this is one of those topics. This is not an argument for it being true or false, it's an argument against waving it away as a problem on the basis of "well we don't have any proof of it". Of course you don't have any proof of it.
I'm waving it away because problems which exist are more important to me than problems that don't exist. You can't rationally expect me to care as much about fantasy as I care about reality.
For someone who admits they don't have proof for their viewpoint and thinks proof isn't needed, it does seem like you tried surprisingly hard to provide proof.
> There's no solid proof that solipsism isn't true, either,
Maybe not in a meaningless hypothetical sense, but there's strong evidence that solipsism isn't a constructive theory. Try this experiment: see how long you can go pretending nobody else exists. I'll be impressed if you make it a day.
> None of these exist if there's no "you" to speak of. Who's curious? If you die every time you go to sleep, curiosity doesn't strike me as a very meaningful concept. That's what I mean by meaning. Basically all the things you list here rely on a stable concept of "you".
Not really. There has to be a me to experience these things, but that "me" doesn't have to be stable in any way really. In fact, I've changed pretty drastically over my lifetime.
> I am not talking about a "human self", there's nothing human about it since it's not tied to a specific body or a body at all in the first place. Sometimes I wonder if the problem is that people are still talking about the old concept of "soul", complete with consciousness and memories. I'm not talking about that, I'm talking about an address.
Okay, that's significantly more reasonable, but that was not at all clear from what you said previously.
> People using devices that upload their minds or break continuity is absolutely going to get political I guarantee it,
Obviously politics of the future will involve discussing this. I'm not sure how you concluded that I thought otherwise.
This should not be mistaken for thinking that politics results in a better understanding of our reality. Consciousness doesn't exist outside of hardware (brains or computers) even if a judge or congress says it does.
> and I can completely imagine people being forced and coerced to use such devices because it's convenient to someone else and because "well the evidence doesn't say there's a problem".
Well, if that happens I'll be against it. But maybe keep your imagination on topic, since nobody is proposing that as a good idea.
> Because if you go with that belief, you're not doing anything bad, and the person thinking you're murdering them is just ignorant in your eyes.
If a human self doesn't exist outside the human body, then ending the functioning of the human body is absolutely ending the human self. So I'm not sure how you draw this conclusion from anything I said.
If it's done without consent, obviously that's murder. But if that's done without consent, it's not murder. The problem here is consent, not human continuity. We weren't talking about consent until you just now brought consent in by saying we might force people to use this technology (which I would not). The technology being described is clearly not something we should be forcing on anyone, and I don't appreciate you accusing me of saying otherwise.
Sure it is, people handwave it away all the time, since it's exactly the same problem as temporal continuity of the self in a changing body.
Well, maybe. This is Ship of Theseus situation. The good news is that, from the perspective of the new you, everything went great, and the old you doesn't have a perspective, so that's a 100% endorsement rate.
There are a couple of scenarios that might be helpful to consider, as they are examples of mental discontinuity in use today. I cannot convince you of the semantics of "not you" vs "still you", because I think this question is too ambiguous to address satisfactorily.
- general anesthesia is definitely, to some extent a discontinuity of consciousness. You lose time.
- more extremely, Deep hypothermic circulatory arrest actually (temporarily) causes brain death by cooling the body to between 10˚C and 20˚C. All brain activity ceases for the duration of this deep hypothermia.
Are there risks to these practices? Definitely. Some may argue that someone who undergoes general anesthesia isn't the same person. But I would argue that it is, despite the discontinuity, and despite some risk of personality changes.
For a more casual experience, yet still filled with interesting questions, you could check out Ghost in the Shell, the anime (unfortunately, the movie largely skips going into this in any serious way).
This feels straightforward to me.
The you that is now, pre-preservation, will be dead.
The you that is then, post-restoration, will be alive and believe and behave as if they are you.
It's convenient that this process (as described) kills you, because that simplifies things quite a lot. Scanning is more complicated, and I suspect if technology ever arrives that allows for it we will treat such scans as "heirs of the body" -- meaning they will only have such assets as you give them, although of course the IRS will still find a way to get them to pay your taxes.
Oh, and one more case that's interesting -- we know the "embalming" process fixes things such that you are now dead. However we don't know what the reading process looks like yet. If _that_ is non-destructive (and I can't think of any way that it _wouldn't_ be effectively non-destructive, since any transformation should be amenable to duplication), then you could be resurrected an infinite number of times. I haven't thought about that very hard, but it raises fascinating possibilities.
The more I think about this the more I think it has some really wild implications. The earliest restores are likely to be less high fidelity than later restores, just because that's the nature of technology (getting better over time). Does this mean that later restores will somehow be "more authoritative" than previous? Who knows?!
Depends whether you define yourself as your molecules, or the particular patterns those molecules have taken.
What if you think of it like "I wish I could give my kids advice even when I'm long gone" or "would I wish to care for the well being of a son/daughter I never knew I had?" If so, what if that kid was 100% your genes instead of 50%?
I feel the same way. There's a scene in the book Old Man's War by John Scalzi which drives this point home in a way that has really stuck with me.
If you're interested in that question, you might want to take a look at a game called SOMA.
In the case when you die, but your brain still exists, and it starts processing it again in a new host (computer or organic), isn't that not you anymore? Why would my former self want that? Is this a solved philosophical problem for which literature exists?
I suppose you don't get your money back if your pets die pre-rapture?
There's a company in the US that pitches taking care of your pets after "the rapture" (a once-in-the-history-of-the-world event where, apparently, the righteous will ascend to heaven).
It's a kind of insurance, because you won't be able to pay the company after the rapture, so you have to pay now. Also, the company has to be manned by evil people (as a matter of fact and marketing), because if they were good they wouldn't stay behind after the rapture to execute their contractual obligations.
The best kind of commerce is when you take money and don't have to deliver anything in return; however sometimes customers feel cheated. The bestest kind of commerce is the same, but the customer is happy.
But, SV should be wary of becoming its own caricature.
Although I would not feel immortal knowing that a copy of me would live forever, I would if I could gradually replace each of my neurons with invulnerable* synthetic ones.
* which grew and pruned themselves the same as organic ones
I'm beginning to think that YCombinator will fund anything with MIT on it. Just last month I spoke with a YC founder that was trying to get me to pay $50 to have a 30 minute phone call with people working at Google. Not an interview, not a phone call with some executive--just a phone call with Google's rank and file. I've lost a lot of respect for YC as venture capital firm.
I'm torn about this, I agree that in a world without death we'd view it as meaningless and tragic. I worry about what our path there would look like.
Let's say we find a way to eliminate death or aging. It's expensive at first so only the very wealthy can afford it. Now you have a set of rich people in positions of control that won't age out of them. They'll live forever so they'll continue amassing wealth, if they don't give up control then a new generation with new ways of thinking about the world won't be able to take the helm. I mean, lots of people aren't able to really internalize new ideas in their own current lifetimes, let alone these hypothetically endless ones. The people in control get wealthier, inequality increases, new ideas have a harder time taking hold. Even if this life extension eventually trickles down to the rest of humanity would they ever be able to catch up? Would they want to live an eternal life subjugated by the elite?
Also, assuming this life extension is biological and not digital all of a sudden we have lots of people. Necessity is the mother of invention and all that so hopefully we figure out a way to move excess people to other planets/space colonies, but what if that takes too much time? What if we increase the number of people faster than we can solve the scaling problems? Food, energy, waste, ways of transporting these excess people elsewhere. If we don't solve all of them we're talking about periods of extreme pain and tumult. What happens if we need to put a cap on the number of people while we figure some of them out? Are some people now not allowed to have children? Are some people not allowed to live forever? Who decides the answer to these questions? Hopefully not the ultra rich & powerful class that's formed - that might not be good for the average folks.
Anyways, maybe I'm being pessimistic and on the time scales we're talking about we'd figure out reasonable solutions but it still feels like this whole area feels pretty hand-wavy today when I hear people talk about eliminating death. Death, for better or worse is a sort of equalizer, remove it and a lot of the problems that exist today could get worse.
This is even putting aside questions about what happens to a hypothetical brain that lives forever. Do we run out of space for new memories? Do we start forgetting things after enough time? If so, is the person we are 500 years from now that can no longer remember it's first 100 years the same person as us today?
>>They'll live forever so they'll continue amassing wealth,
From a wealth inequality perspective, there's no difference between living forever and accumulating wealth or having a finite life and your dynasty living forever and accumulating wealth.
Even if it were true that immortality means some individuals accumulating far larger amounts of wealth, I think a pretty good case could be made that it's beneficial for humanity for them to do this rather than spend it on increasing the number of descendants they have. High net-worth individuals do things like create space flight companies.
Dying may not be meaningful, but it may be useful. Let's say hypothetically we eliminate death, for everyone. Let's further say it developed in such a way that it didn't lead to a more stratified society (e.g. it rapidly became available to all, so the early mover advantage when it was expensive is minimal).
In the short term, that's great, incredible even: everyone lives! In the long term though, do we stagnate on the same set of brains, who are set in their ways from potentially hundreds of years of life and only capable of offering a certain amount of insight on any given topic? There's less incentive to have children (you can always do it later), and there may be physical constraints that limit the number of people the world can support. Without that infusion of new ideas, does human development grind to a halt (or at least slow considerably)? There's no fresh eyes coming to scientific endeavours, maybe restricting the sparks of innovation or new ways of thinking that lead to breakthroughs, and culturally there's no one unburdened by the past pushing the boundaries of the arts etc.
Now you may say (and I might even agree with you) that you'd rather be alive in a stagnant world than dead in one that keeps moving, but I feel there has to be limits to that. There's probably enough going on to keep you engaged for hundreds of years, but beyond that, a stagnant, unchanging world, with the same people, the same cultural, the same knowledge etc. in perpetuity seems incredibly daunting. Would people need to choose to die when they've had their fill to keep the ball rolling? Would enough people choose that, rather than clinging to a merger existence, to matter? Would that first generation of post-death humans last long enough that recovering the pace of development would even be (reasonably) possible?
Let's just say that on a personal level, I don't want to die (and a life _extension_ would be incredibly welcomed as there's plenty to do beyond the 80-or-so years people generally live), but the societal consequences of such a thing could be deeply negative.
People become increasingly competent as they gain experience, until the deleterious effects of aging outweigh the value of their experience gains. Without aging deteriorating minds and bodies and cutting lives short, individuals will become extremely productive over time, and able to pursue and carry out very long-term projects and drive humanity forward.
This will open up countless spaces for human expansion, where new humans can settle.
People become increasingly competent, but they will also becoming increasingly ingrained in the current ways of thinking and current understanding. Many (certainly not all) sea changes come new people coming to a field - think about how we view figures like Einstein or Hawking. Their breakthroughs didn't come after many decades immersed in the field, but relatively early in their lives/careers. My concern was that we would drive towards a local maxima, and lose the new ideas that push us even further forward.
Also FWIW it was deliberately tilted negative to illustrate that eliminating death is not _necessarily_ a good thing, but there will most definitely be major advantages to it as well.
That's a fair point and it's worth considering possible negative effects. I still maintain that the positive effects, insofar as we can anticipate effects of changes made to extremely complex and chaotic structures, are obviously more likely than not going to greatly outweigh the negatives. The biggest positive is that we won't have to experience impeding death and the death of our loved ones, which is the worst human experience.
There's no reason to believe that a human life form is capable of being immortal without going insane.
We should do everything in our power to eliminate death. There is nothing meaningful about it. It is totally meaningless and tragic, and one day we'll look back on the days when millions died every year the same way we look back on the day when three fourths of children died before the age of five.
And this criticism of the rich embracing it first totally misses how technology develops. The rich are always the early adopters, and the high prices paid by them enable the industry to scale up which gradually brings the price down.
If you look at any technology over the last 50 years, you see this pattern at work: PCs, tablets, smart phones, etc.
The first generation was always expensive and only affordable for the rich.
Do you remember the name of the Larry Niven novel?
So, assuming the technical premises are correct here, who will be paying for the uploading? If it is a trust fund established from the initial fee, then the question of who manages the fund becomes an existential matter - it's not like you can switch managers post-(your)-mortem.
On the other hand, if the continued operation of this service depends on later recruits, that's quite the pyramid scheme that you are participating in.
IIRC, in one of Larry Niven's novels, the funds of the frozen dead had been confiscated because they were monopolizing global wealth, and the living were indebted to the dead.
We don’t yet have the resources to simulate the brain of even a fruit fly. Even the neural simulation of a flatworm is challenging.
You're missing the point. The point is to get money and brains for imaging and drug research, not really to clone people.
Can we see if they can "wake up" a fly? I'd like some proof-of-concept before investing my brain in this.
The original press release from the team has much more detail on the technology itself, and is here: http://www.prweb.com/releases/prweb15276833.htm
This sounds just like the transcardial perfusion that I used to do on hamsters and rats in graduate school. After doing and witnessing hundreds of those I think I will pass, I'd rather rot. What's wrong with dying? I am a huge fan of living and of life, but as cool as it sounds to have my consciousness reconstituted in some server closet, being perfused with formalin (and whatever else) before I'm technically dead is not something I place a high level of confidence in working, and it also makes me viscerally uncomfortable.
It seems to me they can image the synapses but I don’t see how they’re going to get the synaptic weights.
Take a look at the picture in the article. You’re really just getting the shape of the synapse at best.
How are they going to compete with Amazon's competing service?
Getting to non-fatal is just a future implementation detail
It’s a feature not a bug.
Given that an early death is only possibly prescribed in cases where a patient is terminally ill (as determined by two physicians), where a patient is of sound mind, and is often in pain, it can be a reasonable alternative to a lot of the (often expensive) interventions that don't do much more than prolong agony in the last weeks of life.
I guess that's one way of managing customer expectation.
This seems to be based on the theory of the connectome, which is widely accepted but still fundamentally unproven.
The idea that we are but a sum of the electrical interactions between cells in our brain is extremely short-sighted.
Our nervous system expands over the physical limit of the brain. How can we be sure that memories are not activated by specific interactions with other departments of our body.
And even if it were true that brain equals conscience, how can we ignore the constant interaction with the external world? Would it be possible to recreate a conscience "in sich" and "für sich", to say it with Kant, without connecting it to a simulation of whatever else is there?
In any case, I applaud at this trial. It is intriguing and interesting, but it also is a display of scientific hybris that you don't see often. I completely disagree with the assumptions that are moving this operation, but I'm extremely excited to see where this ends up.
I'm somewhat uncomfortable with brain fixation because there is no way to actually verify that it works. Mind uploading is very far off if we still can't upload C. Elegans. It is more plausible that we would be able to test biological revival within the next couple decades. Going from atoms to bits is much harder than going from atoms to atoms.
Have got a very bad feeling about this. Makes you wonder what really is "You" or "I". Just a collection of memories in your brain? Do people here approve of the idea of soul?
Most probably won't because there's no "scientific" proof for it yet.
Sounds like a perfect scam. Rich guy pays you to kill him. He can't sue cuz he's dead.
>> Natural death is a beautiful thing; it's a part of life. I'll be honored to die a natural death at a normal age.
I completely disagree. Natural death is not a beautiful thing, and is sometimes painful. Even if I don't want to live forever, I'd like to be given the choice of when to die, basically when I'm tired of living.
Maybe you still don't agree, but would you have thought differently if all your friends and family also have that choice?
Childbirth is also, by all accounts, painful. But it's seen as a beautiful thing, no?
I don't mean to be contrary, these are all opinionated questions and I like the discussion. And it's really hard. A few of my favorite people(non famous or famous) died 'too young' and have very fond places in my heart and others. Yet some who lived to 80-something...grew old enough to disown their own family and die a lonely life in dementia.
It's not so much "forever" as "longer". I may want to die eventually, just not.. yet.
when does 'longer' end? 80? 120? 150? It's a hard question.
Preferably, whenever a person feels ready.
What if nobody ever felt 'ready'? This is becoming more suicide prevention at this point no?
If no one is ever ready to die, then why do it? By the time this happens we'll more than likely be multiplanetary, and there'd be no incentive to really ever die.
It's less a moral issue than a logical issue - "Let a person contribute to the world until they feel they have nothing else they can do" isn't a terribly unreasonable idea.
Most people have nothing to contribute to the world. Should we kill them off early?
If they feel they have something to contribute, as small as it may be, why would they choose to die? No one would need to kill anyone off.
Great. You die, I’ll live forever. I have no objection to you dying if you feel like it.
what if i said that i don't personally -want- do die, just that I thought we should all die as life presents, for the good of humanity. Am I being controlling, or are you being selfish?
You are saying _I_ should die, even if there was technology to avoid it?
What constitutes a natural death? We used to die at 40 now we die at 80. Is that natural? At what point does natural become unnatural?
Natural in the context of not being murdered or otherwise unlucky. I really feel especially for say, kids who get terminal diseases before they reach their teens, so I'll throw that in. I'm not old yet, but I've gotten to experience a lot of life to the point where I'd accept my fate. Sorry for the nonanswer, but it requires a bit of thinking and opinion.
If medicine advanced to the point of repairing your body to be able to live a healthy life indefinitely would you try stay healthy using the best science has to offer or would you not?
It would depend on a lot of factors. Can everyone afford it, even my poorer friends and family? Is the population booming?
Off the cuff - no. If we all lived forever there'd be no world change, the birth rate would have to drop by a ton to near zero, etc. The older I become, the more set in my ways I become. That's just natural, even if you consciously fight it. Imagine where we'd be as a society if they'd discovered how to live forever in the caveman days...
I understand your point of view however it leaves more questions than answers. For example at what point do you stop trying to stay healthy? Modern medicine and sanitation got us this far. Is it already too much?
Maybe I'm a bit jaded...but I don't like this. Or any of the 'anti-aging' initiatives. Natural death is a beautiful thing; it's a part of life. I'll be honored to die a natural death at a normal age. I don't want to live forever - even at my age I feel the world is changing out from underneath me. Friends and family tick off one by one each year. I'm not too old yet, but already appreciative of the time I've been given. Not sure why anyone who values human relationship would want to 'live forever', even if it's just in digital form.
Do they have any Idea which resolution of what parts you need to capture anything close to the original mind?
Do we even know it's just the very material shape, not some quantum or magnetic field magic along with it?
I think we need to completely understand every detail of the brain in order to successfully make a cryogenic procedure viable. But at this point, we will not need this procedure anymore.
Proof that Silicon Valley is becoming a religious institution.
Americans seem to have an obsession with embalming of nearly Egyptian proportions.
Apparently it started in the Civil War, and became a nation-wide sensation after Lincoln's corpse did a three-week tour in in a "funeral train":
Are people in the future going to find bootleg copies of other peoples' consciousness on torrents? When will we be able to check ourselves into Github? After you see that particularly horrifying youtube video, you might be able to roll yourself back to a previous commit and literally unsee what you have seen!
Imagine the ego you could curate when you believe you can upload your mind for eternity. How special you are!
> “And there is a much larger humanitarian aspect to the whole thing. Right now, when a generation of people die, we lose all their collective wisdom. You can transmit knowledge to the next generation, but it’s harder to transmit wisdom, which is learned. Your children have to learn from the same mistakes.”
Are you equally outraged by people who spend $10000 on other leisure activities?
Relax, it is not gonna happen. Even if it "happens" in a sense, it won't be "them".
Tech dissent is not much appreciated in yc, esp when a yc fellow is backing this.
>Relax, it is not gonna happen.
It already is happening in some sense. Prices for many drugs people need to cope with chronic disease continue to rise. The price of insulin, for example, has tripled in the past decade.
>Tech dissent is not much appreciated in yc, esp when a yc fellow is backing this.
If you're accusing me of luddism, you've missed my point entirely. Do you think we should automatically fall in line when marketing materials are posted to this discussion forum?
No, I wasn't accusing you at all. In fact, was agreeing with you. Just that I used a bit of sarcasm by pointing out how it is in here.
On the upside, it's not like they'll need physical bodies for their immortality. Just a quantum mainframe with an unlimited power supply.
Michael Hendricks' take is the best:
“Burdening future generations with our brain banks is just comically arrogant. Aren’t we leaving them with enough problems?” Hendricks told me this week after reviewing Nectome’s website. “I hope future people are appalled that in the 21st century, the richest and most comfortable people in history spent their money and resources trying to live forever on the backs of their descendants. I mean, it’s a joke, right? They are cartoon bad guys.”
We are on the verge of great shifts in climate and energy resources. Millions of humans are already migrating across continents in search of food security and an escape from perpetual war. We're already seeing climate refugees from vulnerable island nations, consumed by the rising seas. Entire governments have been toppled in the Arab Spring, replaced with authoritarian regimes installed to protect the borders of the west.
And a few of the richest people in human history are using their unimaginable resources to try to live forever.
It's really strange to think it will be someone just like you, but not actually you. You never re-open your eyes so to speak, your copy does.
It seems a bit narcissistic to know you will never open your eyes again, but you would still like a copy of you to exist.
The phrasing on the deposit gave me a lol:
> fully refundable if you change your mind
By the time we can do this on pigs, the ethical disaster of the fact that billions of people will have died preventable deaths will be at holocaust levels. The only ethical action is to do this well before it's possible, roughly at the point where the probability of it happening at some point in the future crosses the cost-benefit threshold.
The idea that there is a less than 1-in-10000 chance that in 10,000 years we will be unable to run brains in simulation given over the last ~50y of development we've produced hardware literally nine orders of magnitude faster than that of the brain, done so in a mass-producible fashion, made unbelievable strides in neuroscience, discovered CRISPR and make synthetic biology, gone from AI-as-theory to computers that can talk, describe images, and synthesise photorealistic faces, gone from technology as niche to CPUs on plastic that cost literally a since cent... is frankly an blunt unwillingness to consider the issue.
This is treading a very thin line between a typical voluntary snake oil (with a hint of reverse Pascal’s wager) transaction and unethical exploitation (and murder for profit, one could easily argue) of the desperately ill and naive. Although I suspect many involved (investors...) may themselves be naive enough to imagine this works. Merging it with a YC/VC “do anything and break any rule to produce growth” mentality - which is great for a business - is wildly unethical. There’s no theoretical basis for “brain uploads” other than middlebrow “tech solves everything” pie-in-the-skyism. There’s no economic basis for getting people in the far future to do you favors. And there’s no medical basis for brain embalming/freezing. If they could do this on pigs and resurrect them after x number of days it would be a different story.
Whether you can get derive function from structure is a big if. This is for the vain.
This leads to an interesting dilemma: Suppose there are multiple immortality technologies, such as mind-uploading, cryo-preservation, and so forth. How do you choose? What if there emerge hundreds of competing processes?
Surely having your consciousness in some kind of computer/machine will be similar enough to 'locked in' syndrome to be a torture?
If they network you with others, it'll be a a true system of narcissists.
Ah, the Head of Vecna as a service: http://www.blindpanic.com/humor/vecna.htm
I'd probably choose this over other cryo companies. It's a higher quality preserve.
I'm not sure I'd want to be the one to test the MVP.
I wonder if, when they do create this technology, it'll be all that great of an idea.
I'm not really on Greg Egan's page of things here.
Think about the impact this would have on interest rates. Closest thing I can imagine would be this: http://www.standupeconomist.com/pdf/misc/interstellar.pdf
Preserve my brain. Liquidate all assets and put them into an index fund. Boot me back up when I'm rich in a new sleeve.
> That way, someone a lot like you, though not exactly you, will smell the flowers again in a data server somewhere.
Why not exactly me?
Arguably, this is religion. Because very little of it is testable now. Or will be testable in the foreseeable future.
Reading this thread makes me realize how much closer we are going towards Black Mirror Universe. Scary.
> Why are there so many people excited to do this?
Because science doesn't have evidence for the presence of "you"s, and it's fashionable among intellectuals these days to only believe scientific ideas have validity.
Why are there so many people excited to do this? Don't they realize it'll be a copy/digital clone of them? Even if they could upload a digital representation of a person's brain without the person dying, it would still be a copy.
This isn't immortality, this is a company killing you then promising to create a clone of you with your memories at a later time.
I wish they could do this to Stephen Hawking's brain.
I can't believe no one has mentioned MLP - Friendship is Optimal:
An amazing work that had some help from some of the guys at Less Wrong.
One of the most enlightening and funny things I've read in ages.
Here is a great talk that led me to reading it:
TL;DR: It's a superintelligent AI that just wants to make humans happy... with Frendship and Ponies.
I would say it's still better than 0.
Which one is the true consciousness?
It seems that way on the surface. Both will wake up with the view that they are the true consciousness.
Another variant is the concept that every decision we make we actually split into two universes, one making one decision and the other making the other decision.
But, anyway the scenario is set up, the question is why does that particular brain have that particular consciousness?
It is easier to see in the splitting scenario. Why do I end up being the consciousness that chose A instead of B? A materialistic view does not have a satisfactory resolution of this issue, whereas the common sense view that I actually am choosing A and not B and there is only one me easily accounts for the perception of such. It is only within a strictly materialistic worldview that common sense accounts run into opposition, which would be a good reason to look beyond materialism.
You sound like you've thoroughly confused yourself.
If the mind is software then it can be duplicated. There is no dilemma here, and it's irrelevant what the copies think of it.
It's definitely relevant to me, if one copy is sent to the mines and another copy goes to paradise, it'd be very important to "me" to know which one that is.
What the copies think is the crux of the issue. Denying the problem isn't a solution.
What if they run two identical copies?
Does Nectome sell gift cards yet?
so, legal euthanasia for the rich?
where do i sign up