X-Message-Number: 32503
Date: Mon, 22 Mar 2010 13:12:05 EDT
Subject: Down with Uploading

Content-Language: en

The  relevance of this to cryonics is marginal but not zero. It is 
political or  PR-related.  
I  think there is a small but not insignificant group who think that, since 
quite a  few 
cryonicists are also Uploaders, they are tarred with the  same brush. 
This  was instigated by my recent second looks at some works by uploaders,  
Perry, Tipler, Moravec, and Kurzweil. 
Curiously, I have a lot of respect for the first two, but  not much"in this 
the  latter two. Mike Perry, in particular, I believe thoroughly 
understands my  arguments 
against the uploading thesis. He isn't dogmatic, admits  he might be wrong, 
and has 
many  splendid things to say, such as early in Forever for All that what we 
should  aim 
for  in life is a preponderance of satisfaction over dissatisfaction"the 
meat of  my 
book  Youniverse. Cosmologist FrankTipler  makes bolder and more dogmatic 
in  The Physics of Immortality, some of  which I consider clearly wrong, 
but still offers  
good  food for thought. Moravec and Kurzweil, on the other hand, I think 
make  too 
many  obvious blunders and are basically lightweights in this area. 
So  let me attempt in extreme brevity first to list some of the 
shortcomings of  the 
Uploading thesis. If there is any interest, I could  follow this with more 
It's  all old hat, of course, but there are always new people and old 
people  with 
new  interests. These notes are in no particular order. 
"Identity of indiscernibles" is a  common tenet. Often attributed to 
one  version is that if two physical objects or systems cannot be  
from  each other by any criterion, then they  must be considered the "same"
or  identical.  
First, this assertion actually asserts nothing except a  certain preference 
use  of language. It has no consequences. It is also useless because if  
question arises, are A and B distinguishable, the answer  is always yes. An 
example might be two hydrogen atoms, which some would say  fill the 
bill. But the atoms at minimum are at different  locations, hence are 
distinguishable, e.g. by a mass detector of appropriate  sensitivity. In 
addition, being at different locations, they necessarily  differ in other 
ways  too, such as the gravitational fields to which they are subjected. 
The sufficiency of isomorphism is a  pervasive and clearly wrong 
idea. Isomorphism means roughly same-in-form, and refers  most 
commonly to the fact that, in a computer simulation of a  physical 
object or system, every attribute of the original has a  counterpart 
in  the simulation, and it is therefore allowable to think that the 
simulation is "just as good" as the original and that a  simulated 
person would be alive and conscious. 
Among other fatal afflictions, which I have spelled out  in Youniverse,  
this  idea simply assumes, without proof, that a description or  
representation of a thing is the "same" as the thing. In  a few limited  
circumstances this is true, the most obvious example  being a map.  
If  two maps show the same city with equal fidelity, the maps are  
essentially the same and either can be used. But no map  is the city.  
The  map is not the territory, and a description of a person, no matter  
how  detailed and whether or not dynamic, is not the person. 
For  an easily understood reductio ad  absurdum, consider a 
description of a hydrogen atom, in its ground state and  far 
removed from all other influences. Anyone"even  I"could 
write down, with pencil and paper, words and  numbers 
providing a quantum mechanical description of the  atom, 
its  wave equation or equivalent. But no one will claim, I 
hope, that the pencil marks on paper CONSTITUTE a  hydrogen 
atom. Yet this is exactly, in effect, what the Uploaders  do 
claim. There is no difference, in principle, between a  computer 
simulation of a hydrogen atom and my pencil marks  on 
paper. In either case we just have a coded description  of 
a  physical system, which has to be interpreted.  
Enough for now. If there are any gluttons for punishment,  I 
can  continue. 
Robert Ettinger

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