[ExI] Wrestling with Embodiment

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Fri Jan 27 22:58:32 UTC 2012

On 27/01/2012 14:45, Natasha Vita-More wrote:
> Anders wrote:
> On 26/01/2012 13:25, Natasha Vita-More wrote:
>> "I think computational codes are universal, so that any form of
>> transhuman modification/extension can be seen as modifying the code."
>> Are you saying that all perceptual and psychological attributes of the
> human
>> body can be negotiated and in doing so, can transform these
>> molecular/chemical actions and reactions into computer codes?

No, it is not certain they can be determined. While I think computation 
is universal, it is not always possible to get the data necessary to 
copy a computation. For example, this happens a lot in quantum mechanics 
due to the No Cloning Theorem. Whether this is relevant for mapping the 
body remains to be seen. I am optimistic that it is fairly classical and 
accessible for measurement, analysis and copying, but I recognize this 
is an assumption I am making.

(Thanks for telling me that meaning of 'negotiated', I have never heard 
that usage before.)

> "I think the answer is: sometimes.
> It depends a bit on the project: some domains have much more degrees of
> freedom and hence depend more on who is doing them and their style of
> work. But even in very constrained domains there is often space for
> different choices (what kind of joints in the drawers?), and if there
> are enough such choice points style will be noticeable."
> Is the chemistry of the brain and it electrical firings, that sometimes are
> different (as with Dyslectic and Aspersers) based on choice?
> I'm not necessarily looking at the outcome, although your bring up an
> important point.  Maybe the processes don't matter and we should be just
> focused on the outcome, but I am not convinced.

We are dynamical systems that change the way we work based on our 
decisions. I trivially change my brain chemistry and structure by what I 
eat, what I read, what decisions I make. And these decisions are of 
course based on past ones, and so on. Plus genetics and environment.

In some domains circumstances and logic might force convergent actions 
and convergent brain structure (say training to become a London 
taxidriver). But I suspect a lot of what happens during our life makes 
us ever more different in outlook, function and results. We are born as 
copies and die as originals.

Anders Sandberg,
Future of Humanity Institute
Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University

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