On 01 Apr 2012, at 16:36, acw wrote:
On 4/1/2012 14:33, David Nyman wrote:
Bruno, when you talk about the doctor offering one a replacement
you usually describe the substitute as digital, although I think
have sometimes just said that it is artificial. My recent remarks
about "game physics" got me thinking about this distinction, if
there is one.
Suppose Dick's friend Harry, having been previously diagnosed
incurable brain cancer, has had an artificial brain installed. The
doctor tells Dick that he has replaced Harry's brain with a (very
sophisticated!) battery-driven clockwork substitute. Harry tells
that the replacement has been entirely successful: "After the
operation I felt a little woozy at first, but I feel great now. My
memory is excellent - if anything better than before - and my
appreciation of the finer things in life is as vivid as ever."
is a bit sceptical at first (his faith in clockwork has been
prejudiced by a rather unreliable fake Rolex he bought in Hong
but over a period of several months of careful observation he
can't distinguish any difference whatsoever between Harry's new
clockwork personality and his former self. Their friendship is
This turns out to be just as well, because - horror of horrors -
is shortly afterwards also diagnosed with a terminal brain
Should he now be willing to submit to the same procedure as
is still a little sceptical of clockwork, but the evidence of
successful transformation is very difficult to discount, and the
doctor shows him several other "before and after" videos with
convincing outcomes. The artificial brains may be clockwork, but
doctor assures him it is clockwork of unprecedented sophistication
and precision, unheard of even in the hallowed halls of Swiss
horology. Dick has stumbled across the Everything List, and is
persuaded by the computational theory of mind. Trouble is, the
is not of this persuasion. He tells Dick that the goal of the
operation is only to substitute a clockwork analogue for the
electro-chemical mechanisms of his organic brain, and that on this
basis Dick can confidently expect that the same inputs will
elicit the same responses as before. Hearing this, Dick is now
worried that, however successful the replacement of Harry's brain
been behaviourally, his friend is now essentially a mindless
Since he certainly doesn't want to suffer such an indignity,
say no to the doctor? The question that troubles Dick is whether,
assuming comp, he should accept a genuinely
behaviourally-indistinguishable body, irrespective of its brain
organic or clockwork, as an equivalent "avatar" according to the
of the comp game-physics. If so, Dick should have no reason not to
accept a behaviourally-indistinguishable, clockwork-equipped body
enabling his continued manifestation relative to the familiar
environments to which he has become so emotionally attached.
short, and he must act. What should he do?
It seems to me the question is if someone should bet in COMP.
David, I agree with acw. If you bet in comp, it does not matter the
is run with clockworks, or with the chinese population, abstracting
facts that the artificial brains run in "real time", which means
to us and the neighborhood.
So the real question, admitting the "truth" of comp, will rely in
of the substitution level.
Now, it seems to me Dick should ask Harry and Harry's wife and
everything is fine with him. Then it is will be only a matter of
conviction, and bet on the level of substitution. (abstracting from
that the real choice will be between some PC or APPLE, with
and softs, and the applications for the galactic-net, on which you
download yourself with reasonable self-quantum cryptographical
If Dick had trouble assigning consciousness to Harry because Dick
solipsist then he might have a hard time betting on COMP. Of
post does not suggest that Dick had such an opinion, but it is
just one of
many unfalsifiable viewpoints (since one cannot know of any other
consciousness than their own), but not something which we think is
(by induction on observed behavior and its similarity to our
If Dick thinks mechanism (COMP) is true, that is, the subjective
experience that he has corresponds to the inside view of some
structure or process which is implemented in his brain. That is,
brain does not have any magical properties that make it conscious
fact that conscious experience that one has appear to place us
relative to a
physical brain (by induction).
By induction we can also observe that changing our brain through
or drugs or other methods (for example, consider a thought
the nature of consciousness when only small parts change:
http://consc.net/papers/qualia.html ) also changes our conscious
but it shouldn't if whatever we change doesn't change our
I would say "the functionality of our parts at some level".
Not accepting that will result in all kinds of strange partial
philosophical zombies, which to many people don't make sense, but
have to decide for himself if they make sense for him or not -
experiment on himself, after all, the COMP doctor is available.
The cautious answer. I will try the artificial brain for one week,
and if it
does not work well, I will come back to my organic brain, for the
two I can live.
The result of the transplant: Dick makes a bg smile, and said
works", then made again a big smile and said again "wonderful! it
and so one ...
I mean the cautious answer is not really operational. No zombie can
gosh! I have become a zombie!".
This illustrates we need indeed some faith, but of course, we need
organic bodies. We are just more used to them.
Dick should also consider the UDA and the proof that mechanism is
incompatible with materialism (since Dick assumes the existence of
consciousness by default, I'm not considering that option here).
If Dick thinks COMP is worth betting on, he now only has to worry
one thing: did his doctor choose the right substitution level?
Note also this. If the clock mechanism simulates the whole brain at
electro-chemical level, from a fidel copy at that level, then the
mechanism will run a brain ... developing cancer.
In that case, some higher level might be more sane, or the doctor
has to fix
the cancer, in some way, like adding lot of THC routine around the
cells, but then smoking pot or THC injection might be more
affordable than an arifticial brain.
If the substitution level is higher than the correct one, he might
slightly different experiences than before, despite not being able
so anymore, or more worrying (or possibly the opposite, as it
very interesting possibilities up), such an incorrect bet on the
change his measure, at worst, making his experience less stable
There is of course a wide variety of possible experiences for a too
level. From behaving like an amnesic baby, to a large variety of
(like blind and unaware of it, that is: blind + blind-related-notion
And also, having access to more "normal world". Amnesy by itself
spectrum of accessible realities. They are very plausibly jumps,
large plateau of normality, normally ...
Behaviorally identical behavior up to some limited range of time
necessarily mean a correctly guessed substitution level (can you
show that 2
functions are identical?). What if the level is too low and it
much on entangled states (generalized brain idea) to stay stable?
If it is too low, but correct, normally this would not change his
but might restrict his possibilities in the "after-life". very
question here. Normally too much low, should not be a problem
the waste of money), unless some low level feature of matter are
emulates some classical feature. So "too low" needs clarification,
it can be interpreted in many ways.
One could say that the same may be true for his other new digital
brain, but what if he constantly changes substrates like a proper
independent mind would like to (VRs and other environments)? Maybe
shouldn't worry that much anyway, we can't really know if our
that continuous either, we have discontinuities when we sleep (as
more exotic cases).
It comes down to what Dick finds more plausible or which
heuristics he is
willing to use in selecting what theory is more likely to be true.
In a way,
it's a matter of 'theology' or 'religion', as this belief will
have to be
taken on faith, even if very plausible given our observations.
If Harry remains able to be trusted by Dick, Dick should trust Harry.
As things are going now, we might not have the choice in the matter
future. We have to separate health from the state, like we separate
try) religion and state. A prolife doctor might give you an
even without asking you. The comp ethics is that comp is a personal
and eventually, even the choice of level is personal.
David, if Dick does not have the impression that Harry has became a
zombie of some kind, for a time, I would suggest he trusts Harry
doctor. If he is prepared to bet on comp. Once he bet on comp, the
the ultimate consituants of what do the computation, relatively to
environments, does not matter.
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