“Random access memories: My time at a singularity conference”

Consciousness transfer

The conference I attended in June is the product of Itskov’s 2045 Initiative, which has set itself the goal of transferring “an individual’s personality to a more advanced non-biological carrier.” The side effect of that ability to transfer personalities would be that one never has to die with a body; they would become, potentially, immortal….

…Some supporters of the singularity movement tend to be focused on their personal well-being. At a minimum, they want to live as long as possible so they can live to see the advancements that will make them smarter and better.

But the singularity also has a larger purpose to them. Refining humans to perfect living, feeling androids would bring immortality, the reduction of disease and suffering (as we know them from our human position anyway), and the ability to regulate people’s needs in a way that is compatible with a planet and ecosystem that prove time and again to be too fragile to compete with our wanton desires for power, convenience, and dominance.

via  Ars Technica.

Again, *if* the assumptions of science-the-religion are true.

That’s a lot of faith in materialism (naturalism) & Ockham’s razor. Given how often both assumptions have been wrong – and how catastrophic the consequences have been so many times – I certainly don’t have that kind of faith that I’d be willing to replace the human race with androids and just assume the androids are somehow alive, based on the “if the assumptions of science are true, then this is probable” theory of consciousness-as-emergent-property (that is, the belief that consciousness does not exist until certain things happen, and that those certain things happening are what causes consciousness to come into being).

Personally, I have no problem with the idea of my identity being defined according to the material in my brain. But my identity is a constructed thing – I know this because I’ve spent my life constructing it. Why should I assume my identity equals my consciousness? Is this why so many pro-choice people act as if they assume that babies are somehow not really people?

Fun with consciousness (Wikipedia style):

Chalmers is famous for his commitment to the logical (though, importantly, not natural) possibility of philosophical zombies, although he was not the first to propose the thought experiment. These zombies, unlike the zombie of popular fiction, are complete physical duplicates of human beings, lacking only qualitative experience. Chalmers argues that since such zombies are conceivable to us, they must therefore be logically possible. Since they are logically possible, then qualia and sentience are not fully explained by physical properties alone. Instead, Chalmers argues that consciousness is a fundamental property ontologically autonomous of any known (or even possible) physical properties, and that there may be lawlike rules which he terms “psychophysical laws” that determine which physical systems are associated with which types of qualia. He further speculates that all information-bearing systems may be conscious, leading him to entertain the possibility of conscious thermostats and a qualified panpsychism he calls panprotopsychism. Chalmers maintains a formal agnosticism on the issue, even conceding that the viability of panpsychism places him at odds with the majority of his contemporaries.

(Admittedly this is better if it comes with the picture of the guy with his “philosopher hair”…)