June 30th, 2003


Is uploading possible?

A letter to the editor I wrote a long time ago, in response to this article:

Wet Thought
Drawing a line between software and consciousness.
By David Weinberger
July 10, 2001

My response:

Is uploading possible?
"Why are we so insistent on believing that thinking is a formal process, a type of information processing that is independent of hardware?"

Why are you so insistent that thinking can only be done with an organized blob of protein, sugar, and water?

Consider this thought experiment: we know that the individual atoms making up your brain and body are continually replaced over time. Our identity therefore, depends not on the individual atoms, but upon the pattern that those atoms make up in our brain.

If we can replace individual atoms, is there something special about microtubules, plasma membranes, and ion pores that would prevent us from replacing them with structures made of other materials? And if you accept that the individual components of neuron can be replaced, why not the neuron itself, say, with a chip that mimics the behavior of the neuron?

And if one neuron, why not them all?

"We live in bodies. We're going to die -- yes, even us Boomers. Deal with it."

Maybe Weinberger is right. Maybe uploading can never happen. Perhaps we will all die eventually. Is the best way to deal with death to resign ourselves to the execution date Mother Nature has set for us? Assuming that I'm in good health, I cannot foresee a time when I would want to die. There is simply too much novelty and beauty in the universe to even begin to explore in a measely 80 years.

Our understanding of human intelligence is evolving at a rapid clip, as are advances in computing, robots, imaging. Given the stakes involved--thousands of years of additional life, maybe more--it seems a little premature to throw up our hands at the putative futility of uploading.

Chris Rasch
July 12, 2001

I Love You, Because You're Just Like Me

Super! Now all I got's to do is find me an anarchocapitalist, extropian gun chick from Idaho who wants to have her head cut off and frozen before she dies...

Courtesy of ch


I Love You, Because You're Just Like Me

By Alison McCook

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Despite the saying that opposites attract, new research released Monday suggests that people tend to prefer someone more like themselves.

Reviewing responses from questionnaires about mate preferences from almost 1,000 heterosexual young adults, researchers found that people tend to prefer someone who resembles them on certain key traits, such as those related to social status, wealth and parenting.

Study author Dr. Peter M. Buston of the University of California in Santa Barbara told Reuters Health that choosing someone as a mate who is similar to you makes good evolutionary sense.

"Individuals choose partners who are similar to themselves on many characteristics, because that contributes to the stability of the partnership, and that, in turn, contributes to the number of children they might have in their lifetime," Buston said.

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