Mark Peaty writes:
Brent: 'However, all that is needed for the arguments that appear on this list
is to recreate a rough, functioning copy of the body plus a detailed
reproduction of memory and a brain that functioned approximately the same.
That much might not be too hard. After all, as Stathis points out, you're not
the same atoms you were a week ago'
MP: Well! I'm not going to let YOU pull the levers or press any buttons if I have to be
faxed anywhere soon! You make philosophers' copy-machines sound like props for
Frankenstein's Monster or that movie 'The Fly'. Furthermore " ... memory and a
brain that functioned approximately the same" would seem to be rather less than what
Bruno's arguments about copying require. But my point is that, whilst the ideas are cute,
they are also nonsense any way. Most people have problems enough living from day to day,
and the only time that 'copying' of a person really has any relevance is where surgery or
prosthetic augmentation of some kind really should be done to alleviate suffering or
prevent premature death.
As for Stathis's assertion about seemingly minor changes which commonly occur
to people's brains as they get older, like the odd little stroke here and
there, it is always a question of the facts in each case. Some deficiencies
turn out to be crucial in terms of quality of life: loosing the use of one or
two fingers could be annoying, embarrassing and on occasion quite dangerous.
Losing the ability to remember the names of all the people you know, would
likewise not be nice. On the other hand, losing the ability to recognise things
on the left side of your world, or losing the ability to see the people you
knew before as being THOSE people such that you become convinced that the
person you are with is a substitute, now that could be very dysfunctional and
very distressing. I have seen it written that in fact most people who survive
past middle age, do in fact suffer from 'micro' strokes quite often but usually
the perceived experience is that of progressively weakened memory. Not
Alzheimer's which is a league of its own, but just difficulty remembering
Our bodies, including all neural tissue, are constantly falling apart and being
rebuilt. Experiments with radiolabeled amino acids in mice, for example,
suggest that the half life of protein in the brain is about 10 days. The
turnover at synapses is even faster, a matter of minutes. So given months or
years, you really are like a car in which every single component has been
replaced, the only remaining property of the original car being the design.
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