[ExI] The Upload Game

The Avantguardian avantguardian2020 at yahoo.com
Tue Apr 29 02:57:12 UTC 2008

--- Emlyn <emlynoregan at gmail.com> wrote:

> > Lee replied:
> >  > Not so. Everything about them is COMPLETELY
> >  > IDENTICAL.  From the point of view of physics,
> >  > just how can you say that there are now *two*
> >  > people?  As soon as a copy of a book is made,
> >  > are there now two books?  In the *important*
> >  > sense, there is just one book (the information is
> >  > what is important, not the substrate!).
> What if no one reads the book, ie: it stays on the shelf? Saying the
> information is important begs the question, why do you need runtime?
> (I don't know the answer to this)

Because you were evolved to minimax runtime and copies. Even a mayfly whose
adult form lives for only a day will try to evade a hungry dragonfly. And yes
information is important but it is not the whole story as you yourself have
keenly observed. In addition to information and a substrate one also needs,
amongst other things, a CODEC. The DNA of an organism isn't alive in any sense
at all, yet it contains most of the organism's information. In order to
participate in the process called life, it needs transcription factors,
polymerases, ribosomes, and lots of other stuff in addition to its information

As Ben alluded to in his post, "The Tempest" in Chinese is not signal but noise
to someone who doesn't understand Chinese, despite having the same information
content as the English version. He simply has the wrong CODEC. Now if as Lee
suggested, books were intelligent subjective agents, the Chinese and English
instances of the pattern known as "The Origin of Species" would probably not
understand each other, let alone claim to be the same entity. 

I disagree with Lee about the importance of substrate to identity. In many
cases, the substrate is very important. The "Lord of the Rings" on film could
never be *identical* to the books no matter how well it was made. McLuhan said,
"The medium is the message" and when it comes to life, identity, and
consciousness, I would agree.

Stuart LaForge
alt email: stuart"AT"ucla.edu

"Life is the sum of all your choices."  
Albert Camus

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