Two pages on technology


Well, I note that you speccify that the AI is “deluded.”

Without getting into a lot of technicalities, it seems to me that the sense of “the same” that I care about is the one in which, when I lay down to sleep last night and did so, and when I woke up this morning, those two consciousnesses were “the same,” that is, earlier and later stages in a continuing process over time; that is, I could go to sleep and it would not be annihilation. Whether uploading is survival or not depends on whether I believe when I lie down in the upload machine, I will wake up again in the cybershell (if you’ll forgive my using the GURPS term). Saying anything more than that would get us into the thread that (unlike you and me) cannot die. . . .


So what say C has a bunch of domestic robots such as a dishwasher and a roomba, and an AI cossistant that can give her better advice than a human, while needing 1.4% of the cognitive capacity (not needing the ability to play basketball badly, misremember quotations, and goof off when it is supposed to be studying Greek)?

What is the robot Bill doing? Is is running the game while you drudge at editorial work to pay its electricity bill, or are you running the game while it earns the income, and what happens when meat Bill dies?

I’m not sure of your net worth, but a small percentage of my net worth would be perhaps a couple lakh dollars. My brain contains more than a hundred billion neurons and maybe two trillion synapses. Unless we can map and duplicate 100,000,000 synapses for a cent I am not going going to be trivially tossing off a duplicate me who would feel fully entitled to half of the balance remaining of my worth, and expect me to do the work while it did the goofing off.


A lot of what I had to say, as with the discussion of practical tasks, seems properly to be describable as not having thought the matter through. If the computational capacity to simulate me were that cheap, the computational capacity to handle domestic and administrative tasks would be comparably cheap.

Where games are concerned, what I really want is a surrogate to continue my campaign in memory of me after I’m gone, as a gift to my players. I’m not looking to have it do anything while I’m still alive to run my own games. Of course you could say that destructive uploading could grant the same benefit, but having to die earlier to get the posthumous double raises its cost considerably.


You inspire me with the thought of a rich high tech colony having a funerary obsession, dotted with tombs, where the equivalents of the pharoahs of the IV Dynasty built not artificial hills but immortal simulacra of their minds.


A thing that I suppose I ought to describe is the vademecum, a gadget not wildly different from a modern smart-phone, but with such memory and processing power that people use them to run adaptive LAI assistants that are with them most of their lives.


The reason I think that this is unanswerable is that, as far as the new copy is concerned, it remembers being me-in-the-old-body, and can pass all the tests of continuity that one might expect to try. The old version (assuming non-destructive copy) also remembers being me. This kind of unresolvable problem is to me a sign that one’s using the wrong philosophical tools for the job.


That just says that John Locke was wrong to make memory the criterion of personal identity. Certainly this is a case of using the wrong tools for the job, but it’s a failing that is characteristic of all the British empiricists, and of the logical positivists and many of the analytic philosophers who followed them.