Transporter Dilemma

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Transporter Dilemma

Postby anthonyvh » Sun Sep 20, 2009 6:39 am

I'd like to hear thoughts (or mad ramblings, whatever) on this since it came up during the 9/19 show, even though I imagine everyone is in at least tacit agreement (we're all monist materialists, right?)

I really cannot see how anyone can support the "replicated brain states = me" view in the simplest version of the transporter dilemma (I copy your information, buffer it, create a copy and then destroy the original with no interaction between the copy and the original). If you assume that it's YOU being asked the question about your OWN replication, it obviously matters and the answer is "no, that wouldn't be me." If it's someone ELSE being replicated, does the morality of the situation change if the person is ignorant of the consequences? What if they're informed and they do it anyway? What is the functional difference between these two scenarios if the result has no consequences? Obviously the copy in the first scenario will act no differently. The copy in the second will have knowledge that "I was destroyed", but this contradicts their direct experience, so they would presumably do it again without hesitation, the only evidence of their destruction being that they have been physically moved or momentarily inconvenienced.

Now, what if, instead of a replication with no interaction, we carry out a procedure called "serial sectioning" or "read, emulate, ablate": the top layer of your brain's neurons are scanned, replicated in software and then interfaced to your existing synaptic signals. Once the relevant connections are verified to be following your neural patterns, the first layer of neurons are ablated, the machine network is simultaneously interfaced to the underlying brain cells, and the second layer are similarly replicated. At all times, you are still in contact with your uploaded mind, but as the process continues, your biological mind decoheres and your machine mind comes into focus. I contend that the progressive distinction between biological mind and machine mind would be unknowable to the participant and we can say that the mind has been "moved" but not "transported" as in the discontinuous scenario. But I'm having a hard time squaring this with my assertions above! It seems that there is more to conscious continuity than only the brain states (namely the method of transfer), but that contradicts the premise with which I started (minds are what brains do and nothing else)!

Is the only property that maintains our conscious sense of continuous identity the fact that it IS continuous? What about when we're asleep? In a coma? Unconscious due to trauma? Some of these events can be induced in an artificial and very discontinuous manner (brain trauma for example). How can we maintain continuity as we recover from these events? Or am I (obviously) missing something?

The whole issue also reminds me of a good discussion (and digression) on why the Turing Test is not a good test for artificial intelligence. If we take the interaction of a successful Turing Test at face value, what can we conclude? John Searle's "chinese room" and Dennett's "zombies" come to mind.
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Postby GodBeLess » Sun Sep 20, 2009 2:27 pm

Want to quickly define what a monist materialist is?
www.splittingoftheadam.blogspot.com

My Heathenish Atheist Blog, Go have fun there.
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Postby anthonyvh » Sun Sep 20, 2009 3:34 pm

From Wikipedia:

"Materialistic monism (or monistic materialism) is the philosophical concept which sees the unity of matter in its globality. For the materialistic monist the cosmos is “oneâ€
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Postby Cephus » Sun Sep 20, 2009 7:22 pm

I think it depends on what you think "you" is. Are you a specific set of biological parts? Are you the grey matter of the brain? Are you the electrochemical interactions in the brain itself? If the latter, then reproducing those interactions precisely in another brain would still make it you.

I really don't think that if someone completely reproduced my body in exact detail somewhere else, I would be able to tell the difference. Would you?
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Postby anthonyvh » Sun Sep 20, 2009 9:07 pm

If the latter, then reproducing those interactions precisely in another brain would still make it you.


This is what I'm contesting. While it may be "me" in the sense that a copy of me would react in similar ways as the original "me" would, I (as the original) cannot experience the self-awareness of that other person. Their consciousness is not my consciousness because the me-ness is a function of the brain processes in my particular lump of grey matter. That copy of me, while it is a flawless fascimile, is not something I can experience other than interaction with it as if it were just any other human being [edit: provided I've not been destroyed in the process]

The problem is not that other people would not be able to tell the difference. I freely admit that. But if it's me who goes in and gets disassembled, I'm dead. Someone else has been created who has my thoughts.
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Postby Mythman » Sun Sep 20, 2009 9:51 pm

The way I'm seeing this, if I've got a flawless clone with all my memories and experiences, it's me, right up until the instant the process is over. If I'm destroyed as this duplicate is created, then I don't see it as being any different from me, it's just me in a different location.

If I survive the process, however, we must almost necessarily be having experiences that are in some way different, from the instant the process is complete. I'm comfortable with accepting that a separate entity experiencing things exactly as I would experience them myself is me, provided I'm not still around.

I had an analogy, but it stopped making sense halfway through writing it. Here's another one that hopefully won't die as I think about it.

Copying your mind and keeping the original intact (so that you have two separate entities at once with the same mind) is sort of like reproducing by fission. Sort of. Once the split is done, each clone goes off and lives its own life, and as they keep living, they become more and more distinct from one another. So in that sense the clone is NOT you. But if the original is destroyed close enough to the point of separation (and it'd have to be pretty damn close), I think it's fair to identify it, in a practical sense, as being you.

Now, the ethical dimension of this can be obviated quite simply, provided destruction of the original is not necessary for the duplication. If they don't want to die, it's unethical to destroy them once they're cloned.

I've got other thoughts, but they're not allowing themselves to be put into words yet.
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Postby LtCmd.Lore » Mon Sep 21, 2009 7:14 am

Ok I need pictures for this. but it's 2 am so I had to rush it, please excuse the poor artwork.

Image
So this first one is the standard transporter concept. Your body is taken apart atom by atom to be analyzed by Computer 1. It records your atomic structure, and sends it to another computer via wifi or something. Computer 1 then uses the disassembled body for spare parts later on.

Computer 2 receives the message, then reaches into it's storehouse of spare atoms, or makes new ones from some energy and puts them all together just like Computer 1 told it too. Congratulations, you are now somewhere else.
________

OK, doesn't sound horrible.


But now what if computer 1 has REALLY good sensors on it, and it doesn't NEED to take you apart atom by atom to see how you are made, it can just scan your body completely intact and send the information.

Computer 2 receives the message, then reaches into it's storehouse of spare atoms, or makes new ones from energy and puts them all together just like Computer 1 told it to. Congratulations, you are now somewhere else...

But the problem is, the body that computer 1 analyzed is still intact. It's still working too. Nothing has changed for that body, because as far as HE is concerned, he just stood on a pad and had a beam of light go through him. That happens every day. Computer 1's body has no way of knowing that it has an identical counterpart miles away.
But if he DID know that he has just been transported elsewhere, would he be ok with being torn apart and used for spare parts? Would knowing that there is a person exactly identical to him, in a more convenient location of course, make it acceptable to kill the original?

Image


If I could magically/technologically copy you atom by atom so that you are EXACTLY the same, and place both copies in rooms that are EXACTLY identical to each other, and feed both of you EXACTLY the same food, show you EXACTLY the same tv shows at EXACTLY the same time. And kept that up for years so that you are both exposed to the same stimuli, and being identical, you react to it in the same way.
And then years later, due to a lack of money to feed you both, decided to kill one of you like this: I tell both of you at the same time that you have a copy, I tell you that I'm going to kill one of you, I give each of them a gun. One of you gets a gun that is loaded, the other one gets one full of blanks. You are then instructed to shoot yourself in the head at exactly the same time.
It's important to note that you are both identical ALL the way up to your death. Would you be comforted in the fact that even if your gun is the one that is loaded, there is an exact copy of you elsewhere?

What if I didn't wait years, what if I only waited a week?
How about an hour?
How about 2 minutes?
How about 1 second?
How about I kill one of you the moment the copy is active?
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Postby anthonyvh » Mon Sep 21, 2009 1:59 pm

Great cartoons!

But in neither of these scenarios would I claim that "I" had been transported. This is because (unless you're making provisions for it in the first case), my sense of continuity has been disrupted. If my body in Somalia is still in communication with what's left of my body on the moon (which wouldn't be possible due to SoL concerns, but what the hell, we are talking transporters, right?), then it's all good. But if the disassembly process takes me apart to the point where my original brain cannot function any longer on its own, I am dead. The person being assembled in Somalia is now just a dopplerganger.

Edit: Didn't read that last paragraph until now. No I would not be comforted, because both of "us" are two different people. We cannot have had the same experiences because two bodies cannot occupy the same physical space. Since the sum of our experiences is part of what makes each individual unique, my copy and I are NOT the same person anymore! We are two people and our rights and privileges as human beings are not entangled in any way.
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Postby Mythman » Mon Sep 21, 2009 2:07 pm

LtCmd.Lore, your cartoons have helped immensely.

In scenario 1, I see no problem. I'm happy with relabeling the newly created doppelganger as being "me" if the real me is gone. Presumably the doppelganger is aware of how this process works, and knowing how it works, I would go through it voluntarily (though not on a test run).

In scenario 2, I do have a problem, because there is a point at which you have two functional (albeit identical) entities, and one of them is being terminated against its will. The only way I don't see this kind of system as unethical is if the original entity is destroyed voluntarily, or if it's aware of the fact that it's going to die and still gets transported voluntarily.
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Postby anthonyvh » Mon Sep 21, 2009 2:15 pm

Mythman,

Wow, that is completely not how I expected you to respond to scenario 1. What is it about your brain states that makes you think they can be moved outside your body? Copied, yes, but not moved. You ARE the process that is going on in your brain. If I replicate your brain somewhere else, that's not you: it's a copy of you! Similarly, if I dematerialize you without keeping your brain in contact with the copy I'm reassembling such that your sense of continuity remains intact, I'm essentially tearing you apart and destroying your brain function in the process.

The only way I see this being viable is in either a) a scenario like I talked about in the OP for a technique of machine uploading or b) some variant of LtCmd.Lore's cartoon 1 where the reassembly process keeps my old body in functional communication with the copy as it is being assembled.

We had a great discussion about this with the Austin group yesterday. Tracie and I still have some issues to hash out though. It's not all cut and dried!
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Postby Cephus » Mon Sep 21, 2009 3:15 pm

anthonyvh wrote:The problem is not that other people would not be able to tell the difference. I freely admit that. But if it's me who goes in and gets disassembled, I'm dead. Someone else has been created who has my thoughts.


It isn't that other people would not be able to tell the difference, it's that *YOU* wouldn't be able to tell the difference. But again, this goes back to what you're defining as "you". Are you a particular biological state, at which point you stop being you any time you have a transfusion, get a transplant, etc. because your biological state has been altered, or are you a particular electrochemical state in the brain, at which point replicating that state exactly will still make you "you"?

In fact, if you're going to define "you" as a biological entity made up of certain atoms, you stop being "you" pretty quick. You replace parts in your body all the time and dispose of the old parts. So how can that still be "you"?

If you went to sleep, someone perfectly replicated your body down to the last atom, then destroyed your original body and your new body woke up, never knew anything had happened and lived out it's life never knowing it wasn't the original... is that you or not? And why not?
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Postby anthonyvh » Mon Sep 21, 2009 6:11 pm

It isn't that other people would not be able to tell the difference, it's that *YOU* wouldn't be able to tell the difference.


No, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Because I'd be DEAD.

This particular issue of making a copy and destroying the copy is one I think people get hung up on. If I make a copy of you and I -don't- destroy you (the original), are you experiencing two simultaneous instances of your mind? Of course not. There's you (the original standing on the replicator platform) and there's that guy over there (the copy, who was until the instant after he was created, exactly like you). There are TWO minds. If a third party then kills one of you, it doesn't matter much to the one who survives. But the one who was killed is DEAD. If that happens to be the original, and killing the original is part of the process, the original (you prior to the copy) has died. While there is no functional difference to an observer aside from your having changed positions, I bet it matters to you if you're the copy the gun is pointed at.

Your point about a constant flux of experience and matter into and out of a human body is a good one. This is what I'm trying to convey. The sense of "you-ness" is not defined by simply a snapshot of your neural impulses any more than a hologram is a a fair facsimile of the object it depicts. It is the continuity of experience COMBINED with your physical state from moment to moment that defines your identity.

As for falling asleep, replicating and waking up as a doppleganger, sure. I'm fine with saying I'm copy number 26,869. But the fact remains that copy number 26,868 was killed last night and it would have mattered to HIM, had he known what was going to happen. Given a choice, wouldn't you reject that if -you- were copy 26,868? 7? 6? Any of them?
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Postby Mythman » Mon Sep 21, 2009 9:13 pm

anthonyvh wrote:Wow, that is completely not how I expected you to respond to scenario 1. What is it about your brain states that makes you think they can be moved outside your body? Copied, yes, but not moved. You ARE the process that is going on in your brain. If I replicate your brain somewhere else, that's not you: it's a copy of you! Similarly, if I dematerialize you without keeping your brain in contact with the copy I'm reassembling such that your sense of continuity remains intact, I'm essentially tearing you apart and destroying your brain function in the process.


Well I'm glad I surprised you then :) . Basically my point is that if I'm copied and simultaneously deleted, I'm as good as the same person. I will concede that it's not the same "me," and that it's a separate "me" in a different location, but hey, now the new guy's the only me left. The original entity's brain function is destroyed, yes, so in that sense it's not me. However, I'm comfortable with calling it "me" anyways, partially because the real me won't be there to care any more and partially because teleportation is too damn convenient. I would willingly step into a (thoroughly tested) transporter knowing that this would take place. Presumably there would be some sort of discontinuity for the new me on the other side due to the sudden change in environment, but future transporter copies would carry on this memory and get used to it.

As long as there's a me, I don't see myself caring about what has happened to the first me, or the second, etc.

Now if, at any point, we both exist as two separate, functional entities, that all goes out the window and I give a damn about both of them.
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Postby anthonyvh » Mon Sep 21, 2009 10:44 pm

Now if, at any point, we both exist as two separate, functional entities, that all goes out the window and I give a damn about both of them.


This is where I don't understand the leap between the two scenarios.

If I make a copy of you and you're both standing there, then you acknowledge that there are two entities, only one of which (you, as the original) has a continuous conscious self-awareness. We presume the copy is self-aware as well, but as the original template, you are not aware of its mind in the way you are aware of your own.

Now, if I point a gun at YOU (the original) and pull the trigger, you're saying that you're okay with this? Your mind isn't going to be transferred into the copy when that bullet rips into your brain tissue. Are you saying you just don't mind dying since a copy of you will live on? This seems akin to saying that you won't mind dying because you have children. While that's some consolation, I agree, it's not the same thing as saying you don't care if your life ends.

Edit: my point in going through this scenario in the second paragraph is that it seems immaterial to me whether the original is destroyed instantaneously upon copying or 5 minutes after the copy is finished. If the result is the same, why make the distinction? As the original, you're biting the dust no matter what!
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Postby Mythman » Tue Sep 22, 2009 4:11 am

anthonyvh wrote:my point in going through this scenario in the second paragraph is that it seems immaterial to me whether the original is destroyed instantaneously upon copying or 5 minutes after the copy is finished. If the result is the same, why make the distinction? As the original, you're biting the dust no matter what!


"Instantaneously upon copying" sounds like "the copy is finished and I'm still here," and then I die. That's not what I mean. I'm thinking of it sort of along the same lines as your original "moved not transported" thing with the uploading, in that as the one mind is being built by the transporter, the other is decaying. So for example, as the atoms of Neuron 3459 are decaying into spare matter at Point A, the spare matter at Point B is being assembled into Doppelganger Neuron 3459. Like feeding a page of text through a fax that has a shredder at the end of it. What hasn't gone through the fax is intact, and what has is only intact on the other end. I see that as having enough continuity to satisfy me.

The instant there are two of me, we're both individuals and neither should be destroyed. The continuous decay/assembly transporter doesn't run into this problem.
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