Why uploading is unlikely, ever

Why uploading is unlikely, ever

Joined: August 31st, 2007, 2:14 pm

October 1st, 2010, 2:16 am #1

Reasons Why Uploading Is Unlikely, Ever

Publication plan: My tentative plan is to email one Reason a week, to various venues, and use the intervening days to respond to comments on the latest.

Preliminary: Uploading here means simulating a person in an algorithmic digital computer in such a way that a living person results, a conscious person.

Some possible types of computer, such as those doing quantum computation, are disregarded because not enough is so far known about them. Thus I am considering only computers similar to those now in use, except for improvements in speed and storage capacity. It is generally believed that this type of computer, including Turings paper tape computer, can compute anything computable.

Im sure that some readers/writers will disregard my delimitation of the topic and change the subject. Ill try to deal with that.

Reason 1. A simulation in a digital computer is just a coded description. With unimportant exceptions, a description of a thing is not that thing, and encoding the description makes it worse.

For example, I can write down the quantum description of a hydrogen atom in its ground state, but that writing on paper will not be a hydrogen atom. If I could write down the description of a water molecule, a collection of these would not be wet. Doubtless some would say that a simulated person could drink simulated water, but that would be a poor simulation of an argument.
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Joined: May 17th, 2009, 5:13 pm

October 1st, 2010, 3:22 am #2

A coded description that acts as an accurate simulation of a human being would argue with the assertion that it is not. It would have the same tendencies to believe, think, hope, dream, and reminisce that a living human being does. It would identify with its humanity in the exact same manner that a human does. The fact that these traits are simulated would not change one bit of the outcome -- any difference in the outcome would imply an inaccuracy in the simulation.

So here is the crux of the issue. You are arguing that the source is different. I am arguing that the product is not different. Both of these statements are clearly correct. Where we seem to disagree is on which factor matters for the sake of survival.

If the source matters so much, then why does it suddenly not matter when we go to sleep, or when the atoms of our bodies are quickly replaced over the course of a few months? These are clearly differences in the source. Yet the outcome remains relatively stable throughout our lives -- an "individual" with the same thoughts, memories, and feelings remains in existence -- and we take comfort in that.
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Joined: November 30th, 2005, 4:41 am

October 1st, 2010, 4:11 am #3

Reasons Why Uploading Is Unlikely, Ever

Publication plan: My tentative plan is to email one Reason a week, to various venues, and use the intervening days to respond to comments on the latest.

Preliminary: Uploading here means simulating a person in an algorithmic digital computer in such a way that a living person results, a conscious person.

Some possible types of computer, such as those doing quantum computation, are disregarded because not enough is so far known about them. Thus I am considering only computers similar to those now in use, except for improvements in speed and storage capacity. It is generally believed that this type of computer, including Turings paper tape computer, can compute anything computable.

Im sure that some readers/writers will disregard my delimitation of the topic and change the subject. Ill try to deal with that.

Reason 1. A simulation in a digital computer is just a coded description. With unimportant exceptions, a description of a thing is not that thing, and encoding the description makes it worse.

For example, I can write down the quantum description of a hydrogen atom in its ground state, but that writing on paper will not be a hydrogen atom. If I could write down the description of a water molecule, a collection of these would not be wet. Doubtless some would say that a simulated person could drink simulated water, but that would be a poor simulation of an argument.
From my perspective, I want a physical body and a virtual one that is interconnected. The virtual copy closely mimics me as much as possible. The virtual entity (avatar) functions as my real-time imagination; similar to the average person who commutes home from work and plans for the future at the same time. This avatar also functions as a liaison through other hosts of some form in remote locations, such as a robot on the moon and or even a bird that is flying through the air on another planet. My identity influences the establishment of my avatar, the avatar influences the bird, and the bird influences all the above. Over time, we will end up sharing a common identity that is both one and many. This evolutionary process is no different than single-celled organisms floating in a sea from our historical past to the multi-cellar organisms we see today. So, the debate that goes on year after year about identity and uploading, in this day and age, is simply irrelevant in my view. Frankly and with great respect, you are better off spending the remainder of your time, in this life cycle, assigning names to clouds as they pass by.
Last edited by MathewSullivan on October 1st, 2010, 4:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: August 31st, 2007, 2:14 pm

October 1st, 2010, 8:54 pm #4

A coded description that acts as an accurate simulation of a human being would argue with the assertion that it is not. It would have the same tendencies to believe, think, hope, dream, and reminisce that a living human being does. It would identify with its humanity in the exact same manner that a human does. The fact that these traits are simulated would not change one bit of the outcome -- any difference in the outcome would imply an inaccuracy in the simulation.

So here is the crux of the issue. You are arguing that the source is different. I am arguing that the product is not different. Both of these statements are clearly correct. Where we seem to disagree is on which factor matters for the sake of survival.

If the source matters so much, then why does it suddenly not matter when we go to sleep, or when the atoms of our bodies are quickly replaced over the course of a few months? These are clearly differences in the source. Yet the outcome remains relatively stable throughout our lives -- an "individual" with the same thoughts, memories, and feelings remains in existence -- and we take comfort in that.
Luke writes in part:

>any difference in the outcome would imply an
>inaccuracy in the simulation.

Not correct. Think of my example of a written description of a hydrogen atom. The description supposedly contains all the information about the atom that exists, yet the piece of paper with marks on it is not a hydrogen atom.

Bob

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Re: Why uploading is unlikely, ever
September 30 2010 at 11:22 PM
Luke Parrish (Login lsparrish)
Veteran Member


Response to Why uploading is unlikely, ever

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A coded description that acts as an accurate simulation of a human being would argue with the assertion that it is not. It would have the same tendencies to believe, think, hope, dream, and reminisce that a living human being does. It would identify with its humanity in the exact same manner that a human does. The fact that these traits are simulated would not change one bit of the outcome -- any difference in the outcome would imply an inaccuracy in the simulation.

So here is the crux of the issue. You are arguing that the source is different. I am arguing that the product is not different. Both of these statements are clearly correct. Where we seem to disagree is on which factor matters for the sake of survival.

If the source matters so much, then why does it suddenly not matter when we go to sleep, or when the atoms of our bodies are quickly replaced over the course of a few months? These are clearly differences in the source. Yet the outcome remains relatively stable throughout our lives -- an "individual" with the same thoughts, memories, and feelings remains in existence -- and we take comfort in that.


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Joined: May 17th, 2009, 5:13 pm

October 2nd, 2010, 2:47 pm #5

>Luke writes in part:

>>any difference in the outcome would imply an
>>inaccuracy in the simulation.

>Not correct. Think of my example of a written
>description of a hydrogen atom. The description
>supposedly contains all the information about
>the atom that exists, yet the piece of paper
>with marks on it is not a hydrogen atom.

>Bob


I don't get it. Are you stating that the product of a hydrogen atom is simply "being a hydrogen atom" and has nothing to do with its responses to stimuli? I would say that is not the outcome at all but the source thereof. Certain energy organized in a certain way produces these results when interacted with in certain ways -- in all essential respects, that is what a hydrogen atom is.

I notice that your example omits a computing machine that actually reads the paper and uses it as a basis for responses to other information inputs. I would consider that a crucial aspect. Otherwise it's about like debating the vital status of a hypothesized perfectly cryopreserved patient which is never awakened. One could say they don't die until they are destroyed, or one could argue that they died the moment they lost consciousness -- but it would of course be a pointless terminology debate about the meaning of the particular word "death", not proving a single thing about the actual universe. Similarly your paper example blurs the line of "real" in a pointless and confusing way by taking away the actual processing of the information, which is an important part of what we mean by "real" in the context of "hydrogen atom".

Ultimately, saying that the paper with a complete programmatic description (combined, presumably at some point with a turing machine which simulates it) is not a hydrogen atom is simply begging the question. How do you know it is not a hydrogen atom? What property is essential to our definition of hydrogen atoms which this lacks?

In your earlier example, you mentioned that an uploaded human cannot drink non-simulated water. You haven't justified why this should make a difference -- rather you responded with the preemptive insult that this is a poor simulation of an argument. But the claim that an upload is not equal (in important respects) to a physical counterpart is what we are trying to evaluate -- why should simulated water be less important than physical water for this argument?
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Joined: August 31st, 2007, 2:14 pm

October 2nd, 2010, 4:17 pm #6

See below for Luke's message.

>I notice that your example omits a computing machine that >actually reads the paper and uses it as a basis for responses >to other information inputs. I would consider that a crucial >aspect.

Seems to me that Luke has agreed that a paper with marks on it cannot be a hydrogen atom, and by extension that a sequence of such papers cannot be the history of a hydrogen atom.

Bob
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Marks on paper
October 2 2010 at 10:47 AM
Luke Parrish (Login lsparrish)
Veteran Member


Response to reply to Luke's

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

>Luke writes in part:

>>any difference in the outcome would imply an
>>inaccuracy in the simulation.

>Not correct. Think of my example of a written
>description of a hydrogen atom. The description
>supposedly contains all the information about
>the atom that exists, yet the piece of paper
>with marks on it is not a hydrogen atom.

>Bob

I don't get it. Are you stating that the product of a hydrogen atom is simply "being a hydrogen atom" and has nothing to do with its responses to stimuli? I would say that is not the outcome at all but the source thereof. Certain energy organized in a certain way produces these results when interacted with in certain ways -- in all essential respects, that is what a hydrogen atom is.

I notice that your example omits a computing machine that actually reads the paper and uses it as a basis for responses to other information inputs. I would consider that a crucial aspect. Otherwise it's about like debating the vital status of a hypothesized perfectly cryopreserved patient which is never awakened. One could say they don't die until they are destroyed, or one could argue that they died the moment they lost consciousness -- but it would of course be a pointless terminology debate about the meaning of the particular word "death", not proving a single thing about the actual universe. Similarly your paper example blurs the line of "real" in a pointless and confusing way by taking away the actual processing of the information, which is an important part of what we mean by "real" in the context of "hydrogen atom".

Ultimately, saying that the paper with a complete programmatic description (combined, presumably at some point with a turing machine which simulates it) is not a hydrogen atom is simply begging the question. How do you know it is not a hydrogen atom? What property is essential to our definition of hydrogen atoms which this lacks?

In your earlier example, you mentioned that an uploaded human cannot drink non-simulated water. You haven't justified why this should make a difference -- rather you responded with the preemptive insult that this is a poor simulation of an argument. But the claim that an upload is not equal (in important respects) to a physical counterpart is what we are trying to evaluate -- why should simulated water be less important than physical water for this argument?



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Joined: May 17th, 2009, 5:13 pm

October 2nd, 2010, 6:35 pm #7

>Seems to me that Luke has agreed that a paper with marks on it cannot
>be a hydrogen atom, and by extension that a sequence of such papers
>cannot be the history of a hydrogen atom.

I've agreed to nothing of the sort. Where would you come up with a sequence of such papers without either observing a hydrogen atom or running a simulation thereof? There's no such thing as magic -- the sequence of papers implies a timeline of computations occurring. The example of marks on paper is simply confusing because it suggests that no computation is being done -- whereas in reality the result could not be achieved without significant computation.

You are still assuming the conclusion as a premise. Of course a sequence of such papers can be the history of a hydrogen atom if you don't rule it out by definition. The question of why to rule that out by definition remains for you to answer.
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Joined: August 31st, 2007, 2:14 pm

October 3rd, 2010, 12:55 am #8

Luke asks where I got the idea that he agreed that a pencil/paper descrition of a hydrogen atom is not a hydrogen atom. I got that idea from his statement of the previous day that:

[Luke]"Ultimately, saying that the paper with a complete programmatic description (combined, presumably at some point with a turing machine which simulates it) is not a hydrogen atom is simply begging the question. How do you know it is not a hydrogen atom? What property is essential to our definition of hydrogen atoms which this lacks? "

In other words, this says, as I read it, that the pencil/paper description becomes a hydrogen atom only after a computer uses it for a simulation.

So it now appears we have a bit of a window into his thinking. He apparently doesn't claim that a pencil/paper description alone is a hydrogen atom, but if a computer uses the description to simlulate a hydrogen atom then the simulation is a hydrogen atom.

I hope Luke and other readers will believe that I m trying to understand their thoughts, but find it very difficult, and it seems the reverse is also true. But I'm willing to learn. I'm presently convinced that whar I may learn is the nature of the mental block that prevents others from understanding what I write, but I am always willing to change my mind if that seems justified.

So, assume for the moment that Luke and other uploaders agree that the pencil/paper description by itself is not a hydrogen atom, because pieces of paper with pencil marks cannot do what hydrogen atoms do, e.g. combine with each other to become hydrogen molecules. But they insist that when the information on the pieces of pape is translated and fed into a computer, the running computer program is a hydrogen atom.

But he has missed the point, which is that the information in a computer is also just a description of the atom, merely a slightly different kind of description. Instead of having marks on paper, we have arrays of symbols represented as magnetic fields or whatever. It's just another language. (I remind readers that while a computer can change states by changing numbers in store, so the paper with marks can be made in sequences also, which changes nothing.)

I would be grateful if others would weigh in and let us know what they think, and why.

Bob
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Joined: May 17th, 2009, 5:13 pm

October 3rd, 2010, 10:06 am #9

Do you have much programming experience? It seems to me that interacting with computers to deal with data directly removes certain biases that make it hard to get a good perspective on this matter. A computer does not care about which copy it is looking at, nor does it have special kinds of copy. It cares about differences in the data itself.

To clarify my position: a logical sequence of papers corresponding to the history of a hydrogen atom is a hydrogen atom in abstract form. When the papers are generated already, obviously the atom is not experiencing time in the dimension we experience time. Rather the atom's timeline is in whatever direction you have stacked the papers.

Of course you could not arrive at such a sequence of papers without performing a computation of some kind -- or else as observations of a hydrogen atom. The papers are not a new or different hydrogen atom from the simulated or real one on which they are based.

But he has missed the point, which is that the information in a computer is also just a description of the atom, merely a slightly different kind of description.

That point is not lost on me, I assure you. But has it occurred to you to ask why the universe itself should be considered anything more than this? In other words, a precise description of certain logical interrelations for a series of defined values (which we label energy, direction, and so on).
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Joined: August 31st, 2007, 2:14 pm

October 3rd, 2010, 4:37 pm #10

About Luke's message below:

No, I don't have much programming experience, but I suspect that dealing with computers regularly could cause as well as prevent bias. In any case, Luke's question about my experience is not an argument.

>A computer does not care about which copy it
>is looking at, nor does it have special kinds
>of copy. It cares about differences in the data itself.

I see no relevance here, but a computer does have special kinds of copy--i.e., data must be introduced in its own language and using its own physical symbols.

>To clarify my position: a logical sequence
>of papers corresponding to the history of a
>hydrogen atom is a hydrogen atom in abstract form.

Now we're getting somewhere. This appears to be an admission that a description of a meterial object is not that material object.

>When the papers are generated already, obviously
>the atom is not experiencing time in the dimension
>we experience time. Rather the atom's timeline is
>in whatever direction you have stacked the papers.

Uh-oh, backsliding here. He writes "the atom" when he means the description or the abstraction. Also, by saying that the way we stack the papers determines "the atom's" timeline, he is agreeing, it seems to me, that his "atom" is something else, not the original and not a one-to-one simulation.

>has it occurred to you to ask why the universe
>itself should be considered anything more than
>this? In other words, a precise description of
>certain logical interrelations for a series of
>defined values (which we label energy, direction,
>and so on).

No, it hadn't occurred to me as an original thought, but of course I had read about such speculations. That is what they remain, speculations. Furthermore, although pursuing this would take far too long, the effect on ontology isn't at all clear. But I suspect that this is Luke's bottom line--he buys the logical interrelations view and tries to apply it to everything.

Bob
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Re: another response
October 3 2010 at 6:06 AM
Luke Parrish (Login lsparrish)
Veteran Member


Response to another response

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Do you have much programming experience? It seems to me that interacting with computers to deal with data directly removes certain biases that make it hard to get a good perspective on this matter. A computer does not care about which copy it is looking at, nor does it have special kinds of copy. It cares about differences in the data itself.

To clarify my position: a logical sequence of papers corresponding to the history of a hydrogen atom is a hydrogen atom in abstract form. When the papers are generated already, obviously the atom is not experiencing time in the dimension we experience time. Rather the atom's timeline is in whatever direction you have stacked the papers.

Of course you could not arrive at such a sequence of papers without performing a computation of some kind -- or else as observations of a hydrogen atom. The papers are not a new or different hydrogen atom from the simulated or real one on which they are based.

But he has missed the point, which is that the information in a computer is also just a description of the atom, merely a slightly different kind of description.

That point is not lost on me, I assure you. But has it occurred to you to ask why the universe itself should be considered anything more than this? In other words, a precise description of certain logical interrelations for a series of defined values (which we label energy, direction, and so on).



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