Can I add a nuance that seems to be missing from this discourse?
What if the original 'programming' or 'configuration' of the neurons
(the entire brain including the neuron/astrocyte syncitium) was as a
single entity and intrinsically dynamic?
That is, the laying down of the brain configuration is to some extent
based on the manner(order) of exposure of new information and the net
of all prior history. Subsequent recall is then only possible via the
brain itself recreating the equivalent to the sensory feeds that
originally programmed them and that correspond to that which is
required to be recalled. An intrinsically dynamic associative memory
would behave like this.
We are all used to thinking of things in terms of static 'declarative'
(which I think may be a misnomer in brain function, not sure yet)
memory. In computers we are all used to dynamic declarative memory in
the form of the ubiquitous dynamic RAM (the memory stick) , where the
dynamic part is hidden from us in the hardware. We are able to point to
a location with a stick and say "that" information is stored "there".
But a dynamic associative memory is a very different beast.
If this is the case then at any moment during the conversion from one
brain configuration to another you would have to duplicate the sensory
feeds as well so as to completely duplicate (reprogram) the dynamic
transitional states so that you could claim to have properly performed
the conversion. If so then a neural level conversion becomes
inappropriate as the hardware replacement alone is not taking the
characteristics with it that we think are being taken. Neuron by neuron
replacement becomes arguably inappropriate to achieve the aim of the
The neuron by neuron replacement is possibly a more valid thought
experiment tool for the (human <=> philosophical zombie) conversion,
but it could be inappropriate for (human A to human B) conversion.
Also assumed here is that astrocytes play no role, which is not
It would seem that this 'dynamic' aspect provides an nuance currently
missing, unless I have misinterpreted things. The real situation could
be far more complex than the thought experiment and thus the thought
experiment may be impoverishing the discussion by limiting our
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