[ExI] Uploads on a Postcard (was: GPT-4 on its inability to solve the symbol grounding problem)

Ben Zaiboc ben at zaiboc.net
Thu Apr 6 20:32:57 UTC 2023

On 06/04/2023 19:49, bill w wrote:
> Simple??? You think humans are simple?  Our brains are the most 
> complex thing in the universe and the more psychology tries to 
> understand it, the more complex it becomes.

I'm not denying that our brains are massively complex (as you say, the 
most complex in the universe (so far, as far as we know)). I'm saying 
that it could be easier than we currently think, to unravel enough of 
how our minds work, to make it possible to figure out a 'generic model, 
plus individual variables' method of achieving uploading.

I'm pretty sure, for one thing, that our brains are a lot more complex 
than they need to be, simply because they evolved rather than being 
designed. Secondly, the whole brain isn't necessary for what we are 
interested in for uploading: the individual personality. I doubt that 
the brainstem, for example contributes anything significant to 
individual personality (in a healthy individual, that is).

Embodiment is going to be essential for any upload of course, but that 
embodiment doesn't have to be controlled by a brain-analogue, with all 
its messy complexities. Probably better if it's run by bunch of 
traditional software that we understand and can tailor much easier than 
tinkering with a brain model (this will be true whether the embodiment 
is in a physical or a virtual body. My preference would be for a fusion 
of both, but that's another topic).

We can already create pretty good software that does the same thing as 
the cerebellum, and I don't doubt the motor and sensory cortices have 
enough regularities to make them tractable, simplifieable, and an 
equivalent created in normal software.

That leaves the core of our mental selves: memory (the general 
mechanisms, that is), that attention-directing network, I forget what 
it's called, all those recursive loops between the thalamus and cortex, 
and so on. Still complex, yes, but less so than the entire brain. And if 
we can derive a 'standard model' of this, a generic system that everyone 
is based on, then all that's left (still a lot, I know, but nothing like 
the brain as a whole) is whatever creates the individual differences 
between people. I'd expect a lot of that will be the actual contents of 
our memories, so that might be a good target to start with.

You say "the more psychology tries to understand it, the more complex it 
becomes", which is fair enough, but I'm not proposing to go anywhere 
near psychology. This is neurology. The psychology emerges out of that, 
and may be very complex indeed, but that doesn't need to be addressed 

An artist tries to carefully draw each individual curve in a lissajous 
pattern, but a scientist just plugs in x=A\sin,\quad y=B\sin (or some 
such arcane mathematical formula (I don't pretend to understand it)) to 
a system capable of executing the formula and displaying the result on a 
screen. You get the same complexity (if the artist is good enough), but 
one approach is far simpler, and quicker, than the other.

So what I'm saying is not that our brains are simple, but that emulating 
them (or rather the appropriate parts of them) might well turn out to be 
simpler than we expected.

Another analogy is John Conway's Game of Life. Endless complexity, but 
the code for generating it is so simple that even I can write one from 
scratch (and my coding expertise is very rudimentary).

Of course, I may be wrong, and we may need every bit of the brain after 
all, and be forced to take the artist's approach. I haven't seen any 
evidence of that so far, though.

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