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What happens if your mind lives for ever on the internet?

Xorkoth

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See I think copying someone would result in two separate beings who, up until the other one was created, would have the same past identity. But then going forward they would be two separate entities who would end up having different experiences, and their personalities would likely eventually diverge. I think all of us are "I", as in, we are all the universe, the same consciousness experiencing itself in different ways. So one dying is not a problem I am experiencing being me right now, and I am experiencing being you right now, and you are experiencing being me right now, but our mental hardware locks each iteration into its own frame so the experiences of "others" are not available to each separate frame.

I think there is only the moment. If you copied someone precisely, they would seem to have all of your past experiences and memories, they would seem to have the same past even if they had just been created. So much of personality is dependent on past experiences. Perhaps consciousness in those 2 frameworks would experience life precisely the same, think the same thoughts, at least until new experiences led to unique changes over time in each of them. The original dying would not cause the experience of the copy to change. Just as the eradication of all humans would not cause consciousness to cease.

I don't think we each have a unique soul, I think we're all one soul.
 

JessFR

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I've heard that explanation many times. The problem is I don't think it works.

It's so hard to explain and talk about this stuff because we don't really have a word for the concept of the experience of ongoing consciousness form a personal perspective, distinct from a word for the observation of the phenomenon of consciousness in other people.

If you are the same person until different events make you two different people, that means we don't have any ongoing consciousness ourselves. Every moment of our lives changes us into being a different person.

But the thing is, there IS an apparent ongoing perception of consciousness. I am me. I as in my consciousness, is me, as in my personality, memories, etc.

Why? Why couldn't I (that personality and memories) exist without me (my consciousness).

Why couldn't my consciousness have been born into somebody else? Say I were you and you were I. To the whole world nothing would appear different in any way. But my consciousness, my awareness of existing, distinct from my memories and personality, would be in you. And vice versa.

If a distinct ongoing phenomenon of self conscious distinct form your mind, memories, experiences etc, exists. And it's about the only thing any of us can be sure DOES exist, because we are experiencing it. Then how can it change as a result of time? I am me today. And I have no reason not to think I will be in 5 minutes or me tomorrow.

So if you could make a perfect copy of me, I would assume my conscious experience of continuing existence would remain with me, independent of my clone. My clone would be just like me, identical, yet somehow different because we have different underlying continuous conscious experience.

So then if I were to die. My clone would live on. To all the world nothing will have changed. Yet something must have. Because presumably my original consciousness will have disappeared.

It would be just as if I had been born, but were not me. As in the same way that I am not you, I don't experience your ongoing perception of awareness. And there's no apparent reason I should be more. Or why my individual perception of awareness should exist and be in me.

Like I said, this is SUPER hard to explain when there's no words for what I'm talking about as ongoing conscious experience.

Let's say we could render you unconscious, then while you're unconscious, we make a perfect copy. The two copies exist at the same time for a while. Then we kill the original, and allow the clone to wake up none the wiser.

Do you really think you'd be exactly the same as if that hadn't happened? Yes you would behave the same, your mind would believe it to be the same. But would you really have the same experience of consciously being YOU on an ongoing basis as opposed to anyone else.
 
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CoastTwoCoast

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This sounds like a Black Mirror episode.

And hell no, I don't want to live forever on the intranets. I deleted Twitter, no social media for years. I'd prefer no record of my internet existence.
 

Xorkoth

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You're right, Jess, it is extremely difficult to talk about or even really think about. I think that life is a vehicle for consciousness. At the core, the universe is experiencing everything all the time. Whenever new life is born, it becomes another frame of reference for the universe. Whenever a life dies, it is one less frame of reference. In your example of copying a person precisely, let's say I got copied. Both copies would identify as Xorkoth. If one died, the other would go on and identify as Xorkoth. If both lived, they'd both identify as Xorkoth, but over time they would probably deviate in how they changed based on their individual experiences. Each of them is the same awareness, but only aware of its own frame. I don't think consciousness ever disappears. We only have the illusion of separation.

It's hard to describe. I'm just drawing this from experiences I have had that were extremely compelling and felt more real than anything else has ever felt. I could be wrong. Maybe we each have a unique soul and we live like we are now once, and everything else is something else. Or maybe there is nothingness after death for each individual, except that makes even less sense to me. I think there is always awareness, and it is a property of the universe. It's not possible to fully grasp it, but when you're talking about the nature of consciousness, there are no easy answers. :)

Our language and patterns of thought are not equipped to really discuss this very well, but it's still one of my favorite things to think about and try to talk about. :)

Either way it's pretty amazing that billions and billions of atoms attached to each other in a system can have an experience, reflect on that experience, and wonder about why it's having that experience. There's some magic there of some sort. Why is thjere an experiencer, and not just a complex automaton reacting to environmental stimuli? Could you program a robot to react outwardly in all of the same ways, to the point that no one could determine whether it was a real person or not? And if you did, would it be conscious? Or just a robot? Would it be having an experience, or would it just appear to be having an experience?
 

CoastTwoCoast

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Hopefully one of my copies will be getting laid at some point.
 

JessFR

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You're right, Jess, it is extremely difficult to talk about or even really think about. I think that life is a vehicle for consciousness. At the core, the universe is experiencing everything all the time. Whenever new life is born, it becomes another frame of reference for the universe. Whenever a life dies, it is one less frame of reference. In your example of copying a person precisely, let's say I got copied. Both copies would identify as Xorkoth. If one died, the other would go on and identify as Xorkoth. If both lived, they'd both identify as Xorkoth, but over time they would probably deviate in how they changed based on their individual experiences. Each of them is the same awareness, but only aware of its own frame. I don't think consciousness ever disappears. We only have the illusion of separation.

It's hard to describe. I'm just drawing this from experiences I have had that were extremely compelling and felt more real than anything else has ever felt. I could be wrong. Maybe we each have a unique soul and we live like we are now once, and everything else is something else. Or maybe there is nothingness after death for each individual, except that makes even less sense to me. I think there is always awareness, and it is a property of the universe. It's not possible to fully grasp it, but when you're talking about the nature of consciousness, there are no easy answers. :)

Our language and patterns of thought are not equipped to really discuss this very well, but it's still one of my favorite things to think about and try to talk about. :)

Either way it's pretty amazing that billions and billions of atoms attached to each other in a system can have an experience, reflect on that experience, and wonder about why it's having that experience. There's some magic there of some sort. Why is thjere an experiencer, and not just a complex automaton reacting to environmental stimuli? Could you program a robot to react outwardly in all of the same ways, to the point that no one could determine whether it was a real person or not? And if you did, would it be conscious? Or just a robot? Would it be having an experience, or would it just appear to be having an experience?
My belief, or at least what I think is the most likely explanation, itthat there is some kind of phenomenon in the universe that we don't understand, that our brains make use of to form consciousness. And that whatever it is, it either can't be replicated, or it can but not at the same time as another form exists.

For lack of a better word you could call it your soul. Although unlike the more typical Christian form of the word, the kind of soul I'm talking about probably has nothing to do with what we think of as making us, us.

It would simply be what provides your consciousness. So hypothetically, that consciousness could have been born into someone else. Say, and evil neonazi murderer. If it had been born into that person, you, your consciousness that is, would experience their life and their beliefs and would be "them".

While the person you are now could still exist and would have a different soul.

The soul being little more than what creates consciousness.

I have no evidence for any of this of course, it's just how I try to make sense of these thought experiments.

Because, if someone could perfectly copy me while I was unconscious, kill the original, then awaken the clone. While all the memories are the same and the mind is the same. I can't escape the conclusion that the clone would not be me. Would not experience the continuation of my consciousness. It would have it's own consciousness. Experiencing the same mind.

It would be exactly the same from my perspective as if I had died and there had been no clone.

Edit: by the way, philosophers have considered this concept before, I discovered some time ago that apparently in philosophy it's called the swamp man experiment.

 
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CoastTwoCoast

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Whatever they download or create, it wouldn't have your essence. Our spirit would be missing. I personally believe where my spirit is going. No, it will not be reincarnated and it won't be available for cloning. To sum it up, they can fuck off.
 

Xorkoth

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@JessFR So in your view, everyone has a unique sense of self/awareness. Do you think it continues after an individual's death in some way? In many ways that is the crux of this topic to me. Could a person's individual awareness (if there is such a thing, rather than awareness being all one) be separated from the physical body? Because if you got uploaded to the Internet, your body would be dead, you wouldn't be connected to it anymore. Is it possible for it to exist still, and remember back when you did have a body? Would you stop being "human" after, say, 1,000 years existing in some electrical infrastructure? What would you perceive? No sensory input, just thoughts? It's difficult to imagine.
 

JessFR

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@JessFR So in your view, everyone has a unique sense of self/awareness. Do you think it continues after an individual's death in some way? In many ways that is the crux of this topic to me. Could a person's individual awareness (if there is such a thing, rather than awareness being all one) be separated from the physical body? Because if you got uploaded to the Internet, your body would be dead, you wouldn't be connected to it anymore. Is it possible for it to exist still, and remember back when you did have a body? Would you stop being "human" after, say, 1,000 years existing in some electrical infrastructure? What would you perceive? No sensory input, just thoughts? It's difficult to imagine.
In terms of what I'm talking about as a "soul". I don't assume that it has any connection to what we generally think of as us. I'd say it can't experience awareness without a living mind to provide sensation, memory, cognition, etc.

Only consciousness in its most basic form is what I'm talking about as a soul.

So, if I'm right and such a thing exists in the way I'm suggesting. If we discovered it, you might be able to give it a home in a simulated, digital mind.

But without it, if you uploaded your mind into a computer, you'd still die. Only from the perspective of other people and maybe of the copy (if it somehow obtained a new soul/consciousness) would you seem to live on. But your original continuity of existence would end.

As for death. Within this line of thinking, when you die, there ceases to be a mind to work with your soul. So I suppose your soul would basically go idle. It wouldn't experience life again until another life form becomes connected to it again, however that process might work.

So the bottom line is. I suspect that when we die. What we know of as ourselves is over, gone. But our continuous experience of existing might continue at some point long into the future. Though for you it would seem to start instantly since you wouldn't be able to experience the intervening time.

Likewise, this reincarnation of you so to speak, would have no awareness of its connection to its previous life. No memory of having lived before. And your beliefs, values, even your species and cognatice capabilities, could be drastically different.
 

Captain.Heroin

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I have no wish to live forever. But living longer in a computer simulation? Yeah I'd totally be up for that. So long as the other people are other people and not simulations.
Why would it matter at that point? Wouldn't you realize you are just information and the us/them line blurs so you wouldn't matter? If I was a virtual being I wouldn't mind non-reality I guess? That is perhaps what all this is.

our brains work similarly in that our brains are essentially switching networks
However, this kind of analogy falls apart when you analyze how much "space" the information takes up.
 

CoastTwoCoast

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It seems sinister. I don't think it's good at all.
 

Captain.Heroin

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Only with a duplicate who also believes its you.

But if you (the original) were to then die. You'd have a version of you, apparently identical, yet somehow not, somehow different in not having the same consciousness.
This is easily looked over with a pantheistic outlook.
 

JessFR

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Why would it matter at that point? Wouldn't you realize you are just information and the us/them line blurs so you wouldn't matter? If I was a virtual being I wouldn't mind non-reality I guess? That is perhaps what all this is.


However, this kind of analogy falls apart when you analyze how much "space" the information takes up.
Space isn't a problem. It'll take up no more space than the size of our brain. Sure, it couldn't be that small with modern day technology, that's not possible, but neither is this concept to begin with with today's technology. We're already talking theoreticals anyway. And theoretically the amount of space needed to create a computer the size of our brain is... The size of our brain. Cause that's what it already is. :)

As for why would it matter. The point is self awareness, consciousness. Being a true independent being rather than a a simulation of one. Virtual or not, I just woundnt be able to feel the same talking to other people knowing they aren't really talking back to me.
 

Vastness

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JessFR said:
But the thing is, there IS an apparent ongoing perception of consciousness. I am me. I as in my consciousness, is me, as in my personality, memories, etc.
I think it's important to note that this is only a perception - none of us have any way of knowing whether or not the past actually happened, or the future we expect to happen will ever happen. It just feels that way. The illusion, if it is that, is obviously very convincing, of course.

I would be interested to get your opinion since you seem to hold the viewpoint I alluded to earlier - that consciousness exists as a separate entity from the accumulated collection of memories, both conscious and unconscious that we generally use to define who we are. My own opinion on this is that this is generally problematic, at least partly because as far as I can see without this assortment of memories there does not seem to be anything left to differentiate one person from another (I will use the term "memories" as a catch all from here onwards that includes the impact of all our experiences as well as innate genetic tendencies - "genetic memory", if you like - to save constantly having to elaborate on this definition).

You mentioned that someone could have been born into an evil neonazi murderer - let's just say Hitler for simplicity - I have no doubt myself that this is the case, but it's difficult for me to extrapolate that this implies that consciousness does exist as a separate entity to the collection of memory and experience that makes up a person. It would seem to me that this implies the opposite. If we take you, me, and Hitler, say from the perspective of an omnipotent god, extract these souls from their incorporated state, wipe the slate clean of every memory of who and what we are - then what is it that you suppose is left? If consciousness is separate from these things - and even if it is always dormant except when in it is temporarily imbued into matter - then what is the difference between any one unit of consciousness and the next? Or do you suppose that there is no difference?

Following on from that, do you have any opinion on what the "cut off point", so to speak, is for matter, specifically biological matter - or, perhaps, let's just say sufficiently complex matter, since you did not rule out the possibility of consciousness inhabiting an artificial substrate - to be suitable for housing one of these souls, or "units of consciousness". Would a worm be conscious, for example? Or a mouse... or a monkey?

To me it seems that any "cut off point" is a fairly arbitrary line - and it seems intuitively strange to argue that the same consciousness could jump from, say, a fruit fly, or wherever you'd put the lower bound for a conscious being, up to a human being, with all memories of being a fruit fly previously wiped clean. Of course the fact that it is intuitively strange does not rule it out, but I won't bother to elaborate on that line of reasoning for now... In any case, it seems if you draw the line at any point below present day human, then you have to allow for the possibility of different "flavours" of this consciousness, or that, essentially, it is possible for one thing to be "less conscious" than another thing - do you think that this makes sense to say?

But as soon as consciousness ceases to be a collection of discrete units, or individual, separate souls, then it becomes instead a fluid property, that something can have more of, or less of, and once you get into this territory, in my view, the more likely conclusion is the one Xorkoth expressed and which I generally share - that there is no "line" where inanimate matter suddenly becomes conscious, but that consciousness is an intrinsic property of the universe existing on a sliding scale from the smallest vacuum fluctuation in the void, to the unfathomably complex system that is the human brain, and potentially, to other complex systems that we would generally consider to be unconscious, such as stars - even if the experience of being a star would be very different to the experience of being a human.



Other than that, "continuity" of consciousness, I think, is something that people get hung up on - but I'd like to propose a thought experiment I think is interesting, I feel like perhaps I've mentioned before on this or another forum, but anyway - say that mind uploading can be done gradually, while the biological entity is awake.

Say in the future we have the technology to gradually replace sections of the brain - with no interruption in consciousness to the conscious being - or, even at the level of the individual neuron, say tiny nanobots begin to augment neurons with specialised hardware equipped with the most high bandwidth future WiFi we have available - but the whole time this is happening, the individual being upload is awake and conscious, speaking to their friends and family, perhaps some of them incorporated and biological, others inhabiting a virtual world. They start to become aware gradually of different senses and abilities that they didn't have before that allow them to interface with this virtual world, and they can switch their focus at will - but they still maintain control over their physical body because of the replacement hardware being installed in their skull.

Finally the process is almost complete, they can still control their physical body, but also interact at will with the virtual world. At this point, their biological brain is preserved but they also have the capacity to interact with the virtual. Eventually, to finish the process, these nanobots start to destroy the original neurons. This is done gradually, at all points the person being uploaded remain conscious and awake and they can stop the process at any point if they feel uncomfortable. But because of the perception of continuity, and that the computer hardware takes over the function of each deleted neuron one by one, they do not experience an interruption of consciousness and the process is eventually complete. At this point, their biological brain has been completely destroyed. Have they actually been killed, without them knowing?

What if instead, the same process occurs, but this time they are asleep - rendered unconscious via anaesthesia, and their virtual self is not actually running, but just being written into data - so when they go to sleep, their mind is biological - and when they "wake up", they are virtual - in terms of the "transference of the soul", is there really any difference in these 2 processes?
 
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Hylight

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darn toot yes, how can you not answer yes to that !
okay i posted to this. help ! just kidding.
i have to do more research on this. i would like looking into this more ! very interesting !
 

pupnik

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What sort of assurances? Research or practical application of your knowledge? Or something else?
a) that there is a stable environment in which to reside with at least as much realtime sensory richness that a real body affords, for at least 100 years.
b) that there is an easy to negotiate way of coming out of the web world to wander as a fully independent agent in the 3-d universe. (i.e. back and forth freedom)
 

w01fg4ng

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To counter you (politely) I will say that the distorted, dirty mirror is or is not in our minds.
This is some matrix level stuff. I'm gonna have to think this over.
 

Shady's Fox

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Isn't anything ''matrix'' or much to think, dirty mirror could be another term used for the web, which is how the experiment would present itself. I don't think he meant anything deep or philosophical there, the subject would most likely experience the ''Spaghettification'' feeling most of the time, if the subject let's say would have any kind of diseases would that be a + or a - ? I mean autism could def give some new perspective over science especially in the era that's coming, to send a flooting jar haha you know to outer space, that would be interesting, would gather some new knowledge or we could profit from this and if there's a virus in a lab who got released and everything fucked, we could be saved somehow. It could be used for a lot of ways, to store sperm eggs, so on.
 

cduggles

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how do people know memories have no physical basis in the cns?
Just a thought- a lot of human brain function is inferred by injury or pathology (like stroke or physical trauma, as well as various conditions like anterograde and retrograde amnesia). Now that damage can be more precisely mapped and understood, the role of different structures involved in encoding and retrieving memory have been further elucidated.

What if you could search your memory?!? Regarding memory, it’s imperfect for everyone (even people with seemingly unimpaired “photographic” retrieval have loss of sensory memory). What would it be like to access all the memories you’ve encoded but can’t retrieve due to decay or selective recall? You could literally search your own mind, unfiltered. Obviously, not everything is encoded, but it’s a lot more than we have at our proverbial fingertips.
 

andyturbo

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Transhumanism...
Human 2.0...
2030...

Human 2.0.. probably the most frightening documentarie I have ever seen. I believe it was banned from TV. Its a must see.

The Singularity.

^ does this mean anything too anyone here?
 
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