20100306

"Universality of the human mind is much more important than immortality"

So I had an interesting discussion with a particular someone not too long ago. Don't remember how it started exactly, but it was basically like, why are you doing this research, what does it mean to you... etc.

One of the things that came out of this very quickly was that, I realized that I really do believe that limits on the power of algorithms represent limits on what we can know, what we can do and be as people.

So then there's the issue, but that's so depressing if we are just computers. And my response, to my surprise, was along the lines of, its way worse if we really do have souls that we can't peer into or explain or simulate. Because then there's no possibility for communication, and the machines can't simulate eachother, unless the souls are basically identical and then they can simulate eachother.

I ended up arguing that, as long as we are all generic machines, then we know that our ideas can always be explained to the other robots and can live on forever. If we have souls, then this is fucked, because if the souls are computationally distinct, then it may be possible for one person's thought not to have an analogue in another person's thought, so communication is impossible, and all of the ideas this person produced that made them distinct must die because they cannot be comprehended and passed on.

Which is totally the opposite from how people usually argue this issue. They say, to live on, there must be a soul, so I would rather believe in that. Really? You'd rather believe that your most treasured thoughts and ideas can never be passed on, and instead, you will die and take them with you from this world? And, I suppose, spend the afterlife still unable to communicate them to your peers, or to receive their treasured ideas?

Universality of the human mind is much more important than immortality.


10 comments:

  1. I think... A. Velian and I had a long standing argument about reducibility of the human soul to computation.

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  2. Maybe with cryonics we can have our cake and eat it too.

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  3. @Everett: Did your argument run along similar lines? I think I can mostly guess how that one played out... but maybe not.

    @jesse: True, although given the overpopulation issues, it seems unlikely that anyone would want to resurrect the frozen cryo people. I suppose if all their bank accounts grew exponentially while they slept, it would eventually be overwhelmingly profitable... but it seems likely that the existing people would find some way to steal all that from them. If there really became a situation where, a substantial chunk of the wealth of the economy was possessed by the "dead", the government would try to find some way to dispossess, or at least heavily tax them.
    Bottom line, I don't think most people would even have a chance to get resurrected unless they were extremely valuable somehow, to science or something. Probably the church would try to save all the popes... unless the church boycotted all of this on religious grounds, which would probably make more sense. At this point, I'm not even sure the ability to resurrect Einstein, Hilbert, Godel would be that valuable, since their knowledge is so out of date now... Mostly it would be just sort of a, give everyone a happy fuzzy feeling when they resurrect Reimann to tell him the Reimann Hypothesis was solved.
    In principle though, I guess you are right, with cryonics we could have both. Unless we actually do have souls, and then we wouldn't have gained anything.

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  4. @jesse: Apparantly there is active research in reconstructing the memory and information content stored in killed, preserved, fixed, stained, sliced, and reconstructed brains. Cryonics may not be necessary, juts a large data file representing the state of you brain at the time of death ( dementia would be the only way to die ). See the harvard connectome project :

    http://iic.harvard.edu/research/connectome

    also, wiki :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connectome

    also, the following scientists is working on algorithms for automatic brain reconstruction from the slice data (though his web page is out of date, he has been described as the James Bond of neuroscience):

    http://hebb.mit.edu/people/seung/

    @cris: The argument ended with no logical reasoning whatsoever, just a bet. Based on recent conversations I think my opposition might be close to conceding the point, after extensive exposure to evidence of the physical basis of the mind(soul). unclear.

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  5. @chris :

    "Give me future simulated cybernetic liberty or give me future simulated cybernetic death!"

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  6. ... as part of the larger narrative of how the disenfranchised dead rose up against tyranny and taxation without representation,

    to demonstrate that the economic contributions of their virtual selves were not the soul property of cybercorp,

    that the machine soul was endowed with the same unalienable rights as the meat soul,

    and that their algorithmic continuations are entitled to a vote,

    with two future simulated cybernetic representatives in the senate from their local IP subdomain, and proportional representation of future simulated cybernetic persons in the House.

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  7. on the body the important is the head, in the head the important is the brain, in the brain the important is...the MEMORY...which is, along with Genes and Image, simply, what we are... What is Memory?...

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  9. "The religious the the firsts that not belief in God, thus the Inquisition, thus they abuse of the innocents, thus they mislead to the foolish and thus they buy to the folks (Galileo Galilei)"... IT´S TRUTH THAT RELIGION IS LIE

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  10. (1)...interstellar travel (aliens in Moon?)...are there aliens in Moon´s occult face?, perhaps they could be go to/come from faraway in straight line beyond occult face, for not to be detected from Earth... It´s something strange that NASA cancelled the 2 last Apollo missions when they were in all prepared for launch to Moon... Why astronauts when came back from Moon they were so silent?. Why NASA has not gone again to Moon from ½ century ago?...economic reasons?, "lack of interest"?...or, the Evil Empire: religion, armies, monarchies and politicians...are the causers too, besides of wars, besides control of all global media (thousands million of "believers": bribed, or innocents, or ignorant...when aliens will come to Earth: goodbye religion and all its lies...for that reason there are religious piteous, intimidating to ignorant, TV programs and movies presenting supposed aliens "grey", "reptilian", etc, as our "enemies", if religious would not so damaging; be careful, religious-demoniac-Enola Gays´-religious go saying in "their" global media that "3th World War has already begun"...because Humankind escapes from religious and Humankind go to a best Future; they would give a pity)...

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