[ExI] Continuity of experience

Spencer Campbell lacertilian at gmail.com
Thu Feb 25 20:44:25 UTC 2010

Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com>:
> The mimic would have to not only know what I know and believe that he
> is me, but actually have the same sorts of mental states as I do.

Elaborate, please. I'm guessing that you're equating "mental state"
with "computational state of a brain", in which case you could measure
the mimic's similarity in two ways:

1): Observed functional I/O behavior. Very, very imprecise in the
proposed absence of rigorous virtual simulations.
2): Low-level neural structure. The same program can be implemented in
a wildly different configuration of matter, though, so this
information is useless without: that's right, rigorous virtual

Basically I am stressing the profound uncertainty involved here.
However, even assuming that you COULD determine the mental states
cycled through by any given brain with enough precision to
differentiate between individuals, I don't see any obvious reason to
believe that sufficiently-similar states would somehow "attract" your
M to occupy what was (moments before) a completely distinct body.

I approve of the way you phrased it: "the same sorts of mental
states". It gives a nod to the fact that even within your real
presently-existing brain, you will never hit exactly the same mental
state twice. Not within the lifetime of the universe, at any rate. So
it is, again, a matter of degree: how close does the mimicking brain
have to be to a supposed earlier mental state in order to count as a
later mental state of a foreign mind?

The question is very confusing! If you represent a given mental state
as just one very large number, written in binary let's say, it is
easier to grasp. The similarity between A and B is directly
proportional to A AND B.

Simple. But: distressingly fuzzy. Thinking this way does not help me
locate the boundary between continuity and discontinuity, except to
point out that such a boundary will be very ill-defined if it exists
at all.

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