Brent Meeker wrote:

>Your body slowly disintegrates and is (approximately) reconstructed atom by
>atom, so you don't notice a discontinuity, and it doesn't hurt. If the
>timing and order of the process were changed, so that your body is destroyed
>in one operation and a copy reconstructed at a different place and time in
>another operation, all you would notice is a period of unconsciousness, like
>being knocked out and waking up later in hospital.

Actually you don't notice a period of unconsciousness. You infer it. There is
an implicit assumption in this talk about copying brains and final results that
we do not directly experience the passage of time; that our conscious states
are independent entities that can then be ordered along an inferred time line.
I wonder if that is true? The brain is small in extent, but it is not unitary.
It apparently consists of different modules or processes only one of which is
the internal narrative we call consciousness.

>As for where your consciousness "goes" when you are unconscious, that is my
>point: it doesn't "go" anywhere. Consciousness (and the associated sense of
>personal identity) is a process, not a material object. You can still make
>the point that we have no evidence that human-level consciousness can be
>implemented outside of a human brain, but I believe the above considerations
>show that it is not tied to a particular brain.

I agree. But you seemed to be supporting Hal's statement "Your consciousness
should be able to jump between branches, between physical locations and across
long periods of time." And you refer to it as "mobile". That seemed to me to
be reifying a process into an object that could "move" and "jump".

I agree that one should be able to implement brain processes, including
perception, in some other medium (e.g. silicon) and realize consciousness. But
most of what a brain does is not consciousness. I don't think you could
implement just the consciousness without the other processes.

Brent Meeker
"Ignorance is preferable to error, and he is less remote from the truth
who believes nothing than he who believes what is wrong,"
   --- Thomas Jefferson.

It seems we basically agree but issues arise due to terminology. When I say consciouness can "move" and "jump", I mean it in the same way that I am "sending" you this email. The term is from regular mail through the post, but obviously I am not sending you paper with ink on it, and I am not even sending you the actual electrons I cause to flow in the circuitry of my computer when I use the keyboard. what I am "sending" is information: encoded instructions which you can decode at your end if you have the appropriate protocols and hardware. The information can lie dormant for years, be transmitted over long distances, and be implemented on one or more computers which may be very different from the one on which it was generated.

--Stathis Papaioannou

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