Virtual minds - is he me, or someone else entirely?

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Re: Virtual minds - is he me, or someone else entirely?

Postby Serpent on March 15th, 2020, 12:45 pm 

TheVat » March 15th, 2020, 10:37 am wrote:Still hit the epistemic wall, no matter what.

Only if you build one.
Is the accurate connectome copy me, or a p-zed? As Searle acknowledged later in his career (years after his most famous Chinese Room* paper), if silicon substrate reaches the point where it replicates every aspect and nuance of a biological brain, then we've essentially copied what biology does and his Chinese Room analogy goes out the window.

Yes. First, we have not been talking about a man-made mechanical device (i.e. computer), but copies or transpositions of an actual mind that has grown up through billion years of biological evolution, plus an individual maturation period, and then taken the next step to a virtual or mechanical body. Its 'before' self was undeniably human; whereas the 'before' state of the computer was inert components.
Second: if we encounter a life form that evolved on a different planet, none of our anthopometric tests are applicable. Though most science fiction posits that they'll be approximately humanoid and do algebra, they won't be and might not. We'll have to accept them anyway - so why not afford the same courtesy to a new life-form that arises on this planet? Be good practice for first contact situations.

If I murder someone, then am destructively copied to silicon, my new substrate self is still answerable for the crime. What other choice would we have in a society where people can do this? Otherwise, murderers could simply put themselves into a medically induced coma for a couple days, be awakened, and declare "Hey, I'm not exactly the same person who did that crime. That person became unconscious and essentially dead to the world, and I am subtly different at the synaptic level now... so it ain't me! "

We don't accept an argument like that when someone's been in prison for more than seven years and demonstrably replaced every cell in his body, lost hair and teeth, obtained scars and wrinkles, three new languages and a taste for peanut butter.
That, as I've mentioned in regard to the transporter question, would not fly in any legal capacity.
Also, contemplate for a moment, the probability of anyone developing a technology that is 100% lethal to use -- except possibly as a weapon employed by governments to divest selected citizens of their personhood. Bullets are so much cheaper!

In the matter of AI, my inclination is to apply ordinary civil rights: innocent until proven guilty, or the cardinal rule of forum moderation: legitimate poster until proven sock-puppet, in this case: sentient until proven robot. It seems obvious to me that nothing can provide absolute proof of humanness, as long as humans keep devising more difficult tests of membership in their exclusive* club.
When you move the question one level up, from computer mind to actual mind, where the changed version is indistinguishable from the original, there can't even be a valid test.

* That seems to me the crux of the matter. Looking for reasons to exclude.
Why not just give all intelligence a degree of respect that you yourself expect from other intelligence?
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Re: Virtual minds - is he me, or someone else entirely?

Postby Dave_C on March 15th, 2020, 4:09 pm 

[Graziano] believes that in time we will be able to create soft copies of the neural connections in a person's brain (the connectome), in effect creating a virtual copy of a person's mind.


Doesn’t this require as an axiom that the computational theory of mind is correct? If it’s not correct, then the conclusion that we can ‘download’ a person’s brain fails. Computationalism violates what we know about nature in a number of ways. I’d argue that replacing a neuron with a ‘functionally identical’ microchip would not in fact provide any phenomenal experience (no qualia). Can we know the difference between a computer chip replacing a neuron in the brain is a good question. Consider that neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield who performed brain surgery on epilepsy patients would often do so under local anesthesia in order to check for brain functions and avoid destroying any brain areas critical to function. He would initiate a hand or leg movement for example or initiate some portion of the brain to function during the operation. He would ask the patient if they could feel the hand move and of course they could. He’d ask them if they moved the hand or if he did and without fail, the patient would always know that Penfield was controlling their body. Not a knock down for computationalism but I suspect something like that would happen when we replaced neurons with microchips.

But I don’t think that discussion is even needed to address the more fundamental question raised, which is, “What is it that makes a person in the future (or copy of that person) be the same person I am now in the most basic sense?”

Arnold Zuboff addresses this question well I think. Zuboff is a “universalist” (sometimes called “open individualism”). I’ve been told Zuboff is a computationalist but I’ve not dug into that claim enough to know for sure. Regardless, I would agree with Zuboff’s conclusion of universalism. The YouTube link is very interesting I thought.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9nCpRpUP0M
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Re: Virtual minds - is he me, or someone else entirely?

Postby Graeme M on March 17th, 2020, 5:14 am 

Hmmm... I think that's a curly one:

Is the accurate connectome copy me, or a p-zed?


I was working on the basis that a faithfuil copy is not a p-zombie. Graziano's theory posits that "consciousness" is a model and will be shared by any system that instantiates those kinds of models (presumably then, engineering type control models are conscious). I wasn't wanting to debate that fact, more considering Graziano's argument that a faithful softcopy of me is me. I do not agree

If I murder someone, then am destructively copied to silicon, my new substrate self is still answerable for the crime. What other choice would we have in a society where people can do this? Otherwise, murderers could simply put themselves into a medically induced coma for a couple days, be awakened, and declare "Hey, I'm not exactly the same person who did that crime. That person became unconscious and essentially dead to the world, and I am subtly different at the synaptic level now... so it ain't me! "


My solution to this of course is that a person is the physical object. Bob is Bob and in our legal system, as long as he displays sufficient brain function to be regarded as responsible for his actions, it is he we shall judge. A softcopy is not Bob, even though it's of some interest to us. A transporter copy is still not Bob, though I maintain that there is *some* relationship that is relevant as per my motor car argument above.

Of course, in your scenario, it doesn't matter if somebody gets away with war crimes by transporting somewhere else: since he thereby becomes an artificial life-form, the authorities can do whatever they want to him, wherever he re-materializes.


Well, that's not quite what I said. Somebody who commits a war crime and transports elsewhere is dead and no longer available to pay for her crimes. She didn't "get away" with it. However, we shouldn't be too quick to consider the copy to be completely absolved, unfortunately. While the copy is an actual organism, a biological entity, she isn't artificial. She is a person, a real live honest to goodness person. That could be a legal minefield, but open to effective interpretation, I'd imagine.
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Re: Virtual minds - is he me, or someone else entirely?

Postby TheVat on March 17th, 2020, 10:15 am 

My solution to this of course is that a person is the physical object....


This seems like a difficulty for your whole theory, given that there is no unchanging physical object. You are not the same person you were ten years ago. All evidence suggests you are composed of different atoms, have different new memories and slightly altered older memories, and are only joined to that person via a legal fiction, a narrative which creates an imaginary unitary "me. " This person narrative is efficacious for having a social animal thrive in a group, but it is certainly not the last metaphysical word on your existence.

Again, if you are put to sleep, and wake up as a soft copy (or a hard copy that has precisely the same connectome) whose originating body has been destroyed, there's a prima facie case that the narrative of You continues and the legal fiction should hold up, just as if you awoke from a long sleep. I don't see your "it's just a copy" defense holding up in a society where the continuity of the self is still the prevailing view of a human being. Your only escape hatch, AFAICT, is to invoke metaphysical entities like a soul, and insist that destruction of the original sends a soul out of this world. Otherwise, it seems to me that my conscious mind simply wakes up in the new body, and that consciousness is not tied to a specific platform.
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Re: Virtual minds - is he me, or someone else entirely?

Postby Serpent on March 17th, 2020, 11:25 am 

Graeme M » March 17th, 2020, 4:14 am wrote:[ S -- Of course, in your scenario, it doesn't matter if somebody gets away with war crimes by transporting somewhere else: since he thereby becomes an artificial life-form, the authorities can do whatever they want to him, wherever he re-materializes.]

Well, that's not quite what I said.

How else could I interpret :
The correct action might be to recall them all and retrofit an upgrade. Or destroy them all. Is there any reason not to apply the same logic to the murderer's copy?

It seems to me that you have thereby declared all copies non-persons.

Somebody who commits a war crime and transports elsewhere is dead and no longer available to pay for her crimes. She didn't "get away" with it.

But you don't have her carcasse to prove this.

However, we shouldn't be too quick to consider the copy to be completely absolved, unfortunately. While the copy is an actual organism, a biological entity, she isn't artificial. She is a person, a real live honest to goodness person.

This strikes me as a direct contradiction. If it has the rights of a person, it has the responsibilities of a person. If it has no rights, it's not regarded as a person.

That could be a legal minefield, but open to effective interpretation, I'd imagine.

I'd like to see how somebody negotiates that mine-field.
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