Let me begin this thread by stating that I read through the topic of transhumanism started by our esteemed TA member Nate Lundgren last year and felt like it did not address the issue of consciousness transfer. There was a lengthy debate on the definition/semantics of transhumanism and whether it is rightfully characterized as dogma. Hopefully this thread will focus more on the implications of transferring human consciousness into an alien body.
If the technology was available and you were near the end of your physical life would you consider transferring your consciousness into a droid/robot? If our consciousness is our primary essence would this process not ensure our existence 'in perpetuity'? Also, if you could specify, would you request having the dark unfortunate memories of your current human existence not transferred?
As technological advancements gain increasing momentum we are toying with the ability to transfer our very cognitive thoughts at some point. Would our taking over the controls of human evolutionary development in the "posthuman age" lead to an improvement as a sentient being or it would it all unravel and be our ultimate demise?
There are certainly many considerations. A large one being would we retain our present compliment of emotional states after the transfer? Would our mental state develop in the direction of being a purely logic-oriented being devoid of compassion and empathy? That would be a wrong turn in my estimation.
I see where it could become a very slippery slope indeed. On the other hand having the ability to glide endlessly into the future with my consciousness jumping from agent to agent is alluring.
But we use technology today that was once sci-fi.
Yes, and before the science of that technology was science it was science-fiction, just like this thread, alas all sci-fi doesn't become science.
Yeah, I keep waiting for Doctor Who's sonic screwdriver to show up at the local Target store.
A lot of what's called science fiction nowadays has precious little science to it. Doctor Who is just fantasy entertainment. Not only is there little actual science on the show but, worse, there's a lot of science mis-information.
I'd sign up for a transhuman extension under certain conditions. If I didn't like it, I could always have myself written over. I wonder what the life would be like...how a transferred consciousness would experience the world...what would 'sleep' become? Would a power outage be like a coma or permanent death? I would require access to "digestible" sensory input as well as the guarantee of at least the same ability to interact with the world that I have now. I would require at least the same level civil protections and human rights that I currently appreciate to apply to my post-transfer consciousness and life-support systems.
I wouldn't muck about with editing my memories unless that technology were very precise and proven not to unpredictably influence your character/identity...it seems a bit like going back in time to kill your grandfather, but on the level of the development of your character. Would I be "Kairan of August 13, 2013," if "Kairan of August 12, 2013" had not experienced the most painful rendition of 60s acoustic hits known to mankind--or wouldn't I be instead "Kairan of August 13, 2013-sans-endurance-of-painful-musical-butchering?" I would like to transfer myself, not a tidier version of myself, for continued existence.
If we would not be capable post-transfer of experiencing the full range of emotions and thought processes afforded to us by the machinery of the biological human brain, would the transfer of consciousness truly capture the entire essence of our consciousness? Some people do not experience certain emotions but for those who do, how much of their emotional landscape can be considered part of their personal identity? Or would it be more accurate to conceive of emotions as reactions of a consciousness, separate from itself? Are our emotions thoughts or reflexes?
"If we would not be capable post-transfer of experiencing the full range of emotions and thought processes afforded to us by the machinery of the biological human brain, would the transfer of consciousness truly capture the entire essence of our consciousness? Some people do not experience certain emotions but for those who do, how much of their emotional landscape can be considered part of their personal identity? Or would it be more accurate to conceive of emotions as reactions of a consciousness, separate from itself? Are our emotions thoughts or reflexes?"
It would be essential to take our emotional capabilities with us in the transfer. I believe this area of our consciousness would be the most complicated to replicate. Being like Star Trek's unemotional Mr. Spock would take a lot of the spice of life out of your existence.
I believe emotions are BOTH thoughts & reflexes. One can become emotional in the seclusion of being alone or in an interactive way with another sentient being.
The assumed logical flaw in this thread is that mind and brain can be separated, they cannot.
Decades of evidence proves that, when a portion of brain is damage or lost, the corresponding portion of mind goes with it.
Our minds are a temporal manifestation of a living brain, not a separate stand alone condition, without a functioning brain the mind does not exist. The most future technology could ever provide is a copy of your synaptic/neural state at a given moment it time, which is not your mind as you perceive it. A copy of an original manuscript no matter how good is not the original.
You cannot move your mind away from your brain into another brain/vessel because the mind isn't stored in your brain it IS your brain.
The I/me that we all experience each morning when we wake up is inexorably tied to the only brain we have.
So any attempt to transfer or copy one's mind to another vessel, that mind would not be the same and would not function the same, any change to a mind of any kind physical or otherwise, in a small way or large, it becomes different and over time it also becomes different. I can clone my computer and everything in it, over time the two will become more and more different as I use them. As things are added or changed, the other may get other things changed, they won't be sync'd for long so it is with minds, they will change and be on a different path.
As I see it. You might start with a perfect copy, but it won't last long.
Our memories, especially long term are stored as data in our brain. It does not change. For instance, I still have the same recollection of what my beloved grandmother looked like even though she has been deceased for over 20 years now. That mental image is still stamped into my brain. The data of what she looks like may be moved around inside my gourd but it remains there for access any any moment I choose to use it. If it is discovered how these memory components are situated/organized then I would consider it feasible to extract such information.
There is definitely a loooong way to go before we approach the means to transfer consciousness. Perhaps never. But it is exciting to think about the possibilities.
So, as I asked elsewhere. If we cloned a copy of you with all the same synaptic connections as you, and put you side-by-side, would you be one person or two different people? Now, imagine you are in the United States and your copy is in Australia. Are you in two places as once?
The point is that a consciousness is tied to something physical.
In the case of the Star Trek transporter, presumably momentarily the person doesn't exist at all. Would the pre-transported person be the same person or simply THINK they were the same person, whereas the pre-transported person has ceased to exist forever? and the post-transported person falsely believes he has a history whereas he is actually brand new.
"...would you be one person or two different people?"
Two separate but identical persons, one the original and one the copy.
"...you are in the United States and your copy is in Australia. Are you in two places at once?"
No. The original person/brain/mind is in the United States, the copy/clone is in Australia.
Both would be consciousness with their own body/brain/mind.
In Star Trek the transporter is just a novel means of getting from point A to point B, the person is changed into a form that could be transmitted as a energy beam. The beam was never a copy it was the actual person, there are many examples of this in the series where the beam was interrupted and the person being transmitter ended up as a pile of goo or in the wrong location.
The Star Trek Transporter never made clones, it always transmitted the original person (of course there was that time Capt. Kirk got split in half, the weak good Kirk and the strong bad Kirk.).
Still, with the Star Trek transporter, for an instant, there is no brain. No brain, no consciousness. Thus, it's hard to say if the "beamed" brain's consciousness or sense of self is a continuation of the one before being beamed, or is a brand new one that was created with the memories of the one being beamed.
The difference is huge. In the latter case, the person being beamed winks out of existence forever to be replaced by an equivalent person, perhaps constructed of the same molecules, but with a brand new consciousness that has been given a the history of the beamed person.
It's like the notion that God made the universe last Thursday but installed in it all the evidence that it existed before.
I wouldn't allow myself to be beamed.
I see a lot of people around with apparently no brain, aside from that old cliché how about when your in the hospital and they knock you out, they did that to me for an exam and one minute I was talking to the anesthesiologist and the next thing I remember was waking up in recovery, total blackout without any gray area that I remember.