[extropy-chat] Evidence for the self surviving brain disassembly?

Brett Paatsch bpaatsch at bigpond.net.au
Thu Apr 1 13:08:38 UTC 2004

On Thursday, April 01, 2004 Eugen Leitl wrote:

On Thu, Apr 01, 2004 at 03:06:21PM +1000, Brett Paatsch wrote:
> As I said. I don't regard eqivalence and identity as the same thing in
> this case.

> These terms are meaningless, unless precisely defined. I define physical
> identity as n systems being in the same quantum state.

When you think of your physical, biological self, of Eugene, do
you (also then) think of yourself as a system[s] in the quantum state?

(Aside: By 'system[s]' I am just indicating I don't care much whether
 you think of yourself as plural or as a singular self at the same instant.
I think there is a criticism of the Cartesian *I* in the Cogito, which is
that *I* could be singular or plural. I don't care about that for present

[Eugene   *'s  Brett's]
> These cannot be told apart because no physical measurement
> process exists to do so.  We know that because we have
> system observables (chemical equilibrium) having certain values
> which would else be different (and we all would be dead,
> instantly, in case it was different, in fact).

Understood. But "we (as in the community of educated thinkers)
know" stuff differently to how you Eugene know some stuff - don't
you agree?


> > .... I am downright suspicious of the word encode though. I
> > suspect its a sort of programmers-paradigm concept that's
> > running out of bounds.

> No, information is the very bedrock of this universe. It's been
> with us for a long time, before we realized we're soaking in it
> (thermodynamics->statistical thermodynamics, QM). The
> trend is that information becomes increasingly more important
> in physical theories.

Your apparently not a solipcist.

So you think information existed in the universe before you
did.  Do you think it existed before any pattern-recognizers

> I am also suspicious of 'thought experiments' generalised as actual
> experiments.

> There's nothing very gedanken about two systems being in the same quantum
> state being indistinguishable (I repeat that phrase a lot).

Sorry not following and not interested in that at this time. Maybe later.
I'm interested in "evidence for the self surviving brain disassembly"
and there are already enough terms requiring pinning down.

"Evidence" for instance has variations in meaning. And "the self"
is slippery too.


[Eugene re a Tipler reference]
> Please look it up (I gave you the ref), it's worth it. Skip the
> book, stick to the Appendix.

Ok you found it interesting and I might too, but I'm not sure
your honing in on the same thing as me yet so I'm not sure
it's about "evidence for the self surviving brain disassembly".
(Or am I mistaken? - if you've parsed the above to this point
and still think it is - I may stand corrected.)

> > > That was a shorthand of saying that flat EEG lacunes do not destroy
> > > (I've met a few people who disputed this, but it is a sufficiently
> > > point of view), and that the transiently dormant physical system
> > > sufficient information to resume the spatiotemporal activity pattern
we call
> > > a specific person -- once again, this is an empiric fact, and no
> > [Brett]
> >"Sufficiently unusual" for what?

> Because then there are lots of zombies roaming the premises. I
> don't notice those people (with sufficiently unusual beliefs) to look
>  for them, and to treat them differently.


> Also, people excel in engaging into extraordinary beliefs for no reason at
> all (e.g. magical thinking that a heart transplant makes them acquire
> properties of the donor), so I'm not assigning any importance to that.

Very well understood :-)  And they turn up in the damndest places ;-)

> There's an outline of a proof in the Appendix of Tipler's "Physics of
> Immortality". If you agree with that, your only loophole is that no two
> nontrivial systems can be made to exist in the same state.
> Ah Tipler. A name that does not inspire confidence for me.

> I do not think much of Tipler's beliefs. Some of his science is pretty
> interesting, though. And it's published in peer-reviewed journals, so you
> don't need to start worrying yet. Pick up the Physics of Immortality, skip
> everything but the Appendix.

I'll admit a bias that is strong in me at present (probably 12 months or
and counting). I have almost no tolerance for assertions of belief in
thought. Too often it is a marker of the (alledged) thinker not thinking
enough. If I met Einstein right now and he started talking to me with
"I believe" I might inquire in return "how lovely for you and what colour
is your shit?"

> > I certainly do think that no two nontrivial systems can be made
> > to exist in the same physical space when "systems" are bunches
> > of neurons.

> They could, in theory. They don't have to, in practice, because the noise
> floor of a biological system is sufficiently high to put the identity
> quite a few storeys up.

Ok back to my inquiry. "In practice" then do you, Eugene, think that the
neurons that make up your, Eugene's, physical, biological brain "encode"
(bleah!) for two nontrivial systems that are your self or just one at any
given instant?

(Aside: If your have MPD I'd rather just speak with one of you
at a time :-) (bad joke))

>You can model this very well as activity attractors in a nonlinear system.
> This is also easy to do with multielectrode grid recording and
> voltage-sensitive dyes in neuron culture. Once again, this
> isn't a gedanken.

I suppose one could but that's not what I'm trying to get at. I am
exploring your, Eugene's in particular's, handling of the concept of
self as an intelligent educated other.

> > Maybe I'm wrong but that's what I think based on what I know
> > now.

> I'm noticing that you're actively resisting me shoving information your
> instead of going out and searching for it (half an hour on Google would
> been enough to hit several motherlodes of information, including past
> discussions on this list, and elsewhere).

Yes. Quite deliberately but not out of intellectual laziness or rudeness
but because I am focussed on learning something specific and I think
you guessed wrongly at what that was. I think you have been trying to
help a person you perceived as more conventional asking a more
conventional line of questioning and you were in two minds as to whether
to help them or chase them off for not reading the FAQ.
I could be wrong on that.

You and I both have more than enough material between us already
to use each other as test subjects in this thread. Of course participation
is voluntary :-)

> It is absolutely impossible to address the problem at philosophy level,
> without diving into technical details, and using models (e.g., two
> syncronized machine vision/robotics systems manipulating physical objects,
> ditto two emulations thereof manipulating objects in virtual realtity,


It's crucial to what I am trying to learn (and share-discover) in this

I invite you to think of philosophy as I do (at least briefly). As the love
of knowledge and by extension of truth, practiced by a self. Me.
All forms of learning including the various scientific knowledge
domains and the scientific method in a sense subsets of philosophy
thus conceived.

> > When someone who has taken an interest does again it could be that
> > they want to push deeper than before.

> Unfortunately the reality shows a different behaviour pattern. The debate
> old, and has been thoroughly probed during the heydays of the Net. The
> probability of anyone probing deeper than all those who have gone before
> empirically very low (I've never seen it happen in the last half decade).

That's your perception of the reality, observer of behaviour patterns ;-).
The net is just a medium (a good one).

How did *you* arrive at *that* probability? :-)

> > This doesn't mean it can't happen, I'm just not holding my breath.

Don't hold your breath for more than an hour at least until you are
done with this discussion.  (ref to Platt paper).

Slightly more seriously, perhaps you ought to 'get out' more often.


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