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

Postby edy420 on August 18th, 2020, 6:30 am 

Does the art of self replication and assimilation, completely dissolve the immorality of self destruction. A very interesting question.

One of the major moral issues with suicide, is the fact that loved ones feel pain and misery due to the loss of life. The proposed OP nearly counters this ethical issue, but not quite 100%

For example, I know for myself that I wouldn't take the ride on the transporter. I have my own personal belief, including the existence of the soul. Of course, this is my belief and I don't expect NOR demand that others believe what I do, however!

If my wife were to make a shopping trip to Mars, enjoy a cup of coffee with some friends and then zip back in time for dinner, shes dead to me. I don't want a relationship with her copy, that's not who I married. To me thats like going to bed with my American made Nike's, and waking up with the $5 made in China copies.. They look and feel the same, but they just are not the same.

On a personal level, we will all make up our mind on whether or not the zip is ethical. But on a social level, its inherently destructive to what it means to be human. ie A member of a society that holds dear, the preservation of its individuals.

Vats idea is interesting too, of slowing down the process of assimilation, to eventually completely replace grandma. IMO, the more grandma is enhanced, then the less she is grandma. replacing say .5% of her brain would make her .5% less grandma, until the eventual 100% transformation when she is no longer grandma at all.
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Re: Virtual minds - is he me, or someone else entirely?

Postby edy420 on August 18th, 2020, 8:08 am 

Suicide is one angle, another Im trying to comprehend is murder.

Lets say someone murders Spock. But then data is taken from his last transmission, and another copy is created. Hes technically the exact same Spock, so then, was the original really murdered? (or other other, other copy)

In terms of intent, murder has been committed, but in terms of actual killing, the definition becomes complicated.

Intent on its own is meaningless... Im sure there has been plenty of people who have had the intention of killing me. And if there is no real loss of life, then should the term murder even be a part of the English dictionary.

It gets even more complicated if you boot up a copy from 5 or 10 years ago. Its a rather large thought experiment, heh food for thought.
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Re: Virtual minds - is he me, or someone else entirely?

Postby Serpent on August 18th, 2020, 8:21 am 

It's a fine diversion from our actual, real-life concerns. Too bad it's entirely circular and can be traversed in under ten minutes, after which it's merely repetitious.
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Re: Virtual minds - is he me, or someone else entirely?

Postby Positor on August 18th, 2020, 10:45 am 

A few points to consider:

1. If my brain/mind system is copied but the original continues to function, are both versions 'me'?

2. If so, do I phenomenally experience both systems simultaneously? Or to put it another way, is there a simultaneous experience of both systems? If so, there would need to be a manifold that links the two sets of experiences; but that manifold would be additional to the two versions of 'me', so how could it be part of 'me'?

3. If there is no simultaneous phenomenal experience of both versions, but only such an experience of one of them (most likely the original), how can the other one be regarded as 'me' also?

4. The new copy will be in a different physical location to the original. So, however faithful a copy it is, it will not be identical in its relation to the outside world. Thus it will be ontologically distinct. In view of this, can it still be 'me'? Is "there is only one of me" a necessary or a contingent truth?

5. If the original version is replaced gradually, then we have a 'Ship of Theseus' problem. And this would not just be a philosophical paradox, capable of resolution by means of definitions – it would be a real scientific problem with an empirical answer.
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Re: Virtual minds - is he me, or someone else entirely?

Postby edy420 on August 18th, 2020, 9:28 pm 

Hi Vat,

TheVat » 18 Mar 2020, 03:15 wrote: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.


People with prosthetics, are still considered people in todays society, but they are enhanced. A prosthetic arm, is not a human arm. Although this person can now function as a normal human again, they are still an incomplete human. The point I made about slowly replacing the brain is better emphasized in this example. You can not use a prosthetic arm, in an arm wrestling competition or boxing or any sport, because 1, it would be cheating and 2, its not your "arm". Its a replacement arm.

Now if we consider that we continually replace all the body parts until they are completely cybernetic. They wouldnt just be excluded from sport, but most human activities. They would not be considered human.

Even if we use the genetic replacement in this example, as opposed to the cybernetic, it would still be excluded from sport. Because the replacement parts could be enhanced. From what I can tell, you assume that such a society would be ok with an entire biological replacement of persons, but I am not so sure. What makes you so certain of this, when all societies have always had some level of diversity?
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