[ExI] extropy-chat Digest, Vol 199, Issue 86

Ben Zaiboc ben at zaiboc.net
Sat Apr 25 10:31:05 UTC 2020

On 25/04/2020 00:36, Jason Resch wrote:
> According to mechanism (the idea that the brain is a machine and that 
> consciousness is merely a product of this machine's operation), then:
> 1. survival of consciousness beyond the death of a body,
> 2. reincarnation,
> 3. the ability for the consciousness to travel to other universes, and
> 4. the distinction between the body and the consciousness are direct 
> consequences.
> Mechanism holds that consciousness results from the operation of a 
> machine (the brain). Therefore, consciousness is the result of a 
> pattern of behaviors, not the underlying physical material or matter. 
> If a body dies, you could use a different pile of matter to rebuild 
> that machine and recover the consciousness. The consciousness then 
> would survive beyond the death of any particular incarnation (body) 
> and could reincarnate into new bodies. The analogy is similar to the 
> notion of a story surviving the destruction of one copy of it in a 
> book. The book, like the body, is just one particular token, 
> representing a type (the story). But the type can exist as many 
> different tokens.
> Most scientists and philosophers of mind ascribe to mechanism.  
> Consciousness then is an informational pattern, not matter or energy. 
> Consciousness has no mass, definite location, nor is it bound to the 
> confines of this universe like the matter is.  If in another universe 
> someone recreated on a computer the same patterns the atoms in your 
> brain here follow, then according to mechanism (what nearly every 
> scientist will tell you) your consciousness would be recreated in that 
> other universe.
> So here we have your "soul"--if you will call it that, surviving the 
> death of the body, reincarnating into new bodies unassociated with the 
> matter, and even leaving the universe to exist in some physically 
> inaccessible realm.
> You may object that in practice we never re-create brains in such a 
> way to enable reincarnation or allow the consciousness to survive the 
> death of the body, but I disagree. The many worlds of quantum 
> mechanics provides exactly the form of duplication necessary, and 
> results in your consciousness travelling to now physically inaccesible 
> corners of reality.  Secondly, if a dying brain approaches zero 
> information content, it results in there being a singular state (the 
> consciousness of zero information). If this conscious state is 
> identical in content to a newly forming brain in a womb, then this 
> provides a mechanism of reincarnating into a new body.  Then there is 
> also the simulation hypothesis, where you are a descendent, or jupiter 
> brain, or advanced alien playing sim human, and when you awaken from 
> this game/dream/life you will find yourself in an "immaterial" 
> (simulated/VR) realm where you are free to play "Sim Martian" or have 
> any life of any mortal being you choose.
> Or, if this is too much, you might just say when your dead that's it. 
> (but then you need to find an alternate theory of consciousness which 
> prohibits these possibilities).

Your terminology is more suggestive of supernatural concepts than 
scientific ones, but I see what you're getting at. However, you seem to 
be ignoring the vital role of matter and energy in implementing 
information. There's no such thing as information without matter and/or 
energy. There's no such thing as a mind without a brain.

I do say that when you're dead, that's it. In the absence of some 
intervention to record, transfer and restore the information in the 
brain. I'm saying nothing about other universes or quantum physics, I'm 
not qualified to, but in this universe, in the macroscopic world we're 
all familiar with, it seems that minds are produced by the functioning 
of brains. If we can reproduce the functions exactly, as you say, we 
have reproduced the mind. That doesn't mean that if a brain is 
destroyed, the mind isn't also destroyed. The things you are calling 
'reincarnation' (I really don't like using that term, for the reason 
above) can indeed happen, but only if someone does something to achieve 
it. Absent that, you're dead, Jim.

Some people dispute this, quoting things like the holographic universe 
theory, but again, I'm not qualified to comment on that, and I certainly 
wouldn't want to rely on it.

Ben Zaiboc

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