Monday, 22 April 2013

Mind-Uploading Is Nonsense

I am an uploading skeptic but not because I think it is impossible. I think it is merely a 1980's type of clunking metallic cyborg fashion statement, which will be hopelessly outdated soon. Uploading seems to be based in a bio-phobic mentality, almost misanthropy. Amusingly I often mention DNA-computing (or other bio-computing) to uploaders, I state I want to upload myself to my own DNA, which invalidates their escapist bio-phobic uploading purpose. Human bodies are currently limited but biology can easily be improved.

The whole machines versus biology thing is extremely misguided because biological organisms are machines albeit with different parts. So-called "machines" (artificially created ones) of the future, they will not be clunking metallic things, they will be indistinguishable from any natural living being because natural living beings are actually machines. A "computer" is essentially another word for "brain" thus "machine consciousness" could easily be human consciousness. Think about bio-computers, computing using biological parts. If genetic transistors can turn biological cells into computers then surely we are already uploaded into a computer, in essence, our brains?

George Dvorsky, via io9, recently stated:

"Many futurists predict that one day we'll upload our minds into computers, where we'll romp around in virtual reality environments. That's possible — but there are still a number of thorny issues to consider."

Ben Goertzel, via H+, responded:

"The topic of Dvorsky’s skeptical screed is dear to my heart and mind.  As a person frustrated with the limitations of the human body and interested in unlimited lifespan, I find the notion of mind uploading highly appealing.   While my main research area is artificial general intelligence, I’ve also dug fairly deep into the science underlying mind uploading … in 2012 I edited the first journal issue entirely devoted to Mind Uploading (an issue of the Journal of Machine Consciousness)."

Mind-uploading is nonsense due to the nonsense of thinking biology is radically different from machines. I think the debate occurs because on the one hand you have people who dislike the idea of "machines" taking over, while on the other hand you have essentially misanthropic people who detest biology, but contrary to the debate there is essentially no difference between biology and machines.

I think biology applies to all advanced lifeforms. The question is not where biology stops, the question is when so-called "machines" start to become sophisticated enough to be deemed biological, alive. In the year 2013 I actually think we have already reached that point, thus computers are now very primitive biological life-forms. The traditional concept of biology is too narrow because machines and biology are essentially the same thing, so obviously I think mind-uploading is possible; I am simply making the point uploading will never be relevant due to a misunderstanding of machines and biology, the false dichotomy.

I don't think the lack of interest in uploading, when it is eventually possible, will be due to any radical-disruptiveness of it, I think it is simply a matter of it being irrelevant or misguided, it's similar to when people 100 years ago thought food would be delivered by pneumatic tubes in the year 2013. It's like Thomas Edison predicting cradles would be made entirely from steel in 2011 or books would be made from nickel. Consider also nuclear powered vacuum cleaners.

Discarding the human body is very escapist. I suspect it's a phenomenon of thinking the grass is greener on the other side. People talk about uploading their minds to computers or machines but they fail to realise our brains are already machines, our brains are computers albeit with a few kinks due to the randomness of unguided (not deliberate) evolution.

The escapism of uploading from one computer (the brain) to another computer (computation not based on DNA) means the escapism is an illusion identical to all forms of escapism. This means nothing will really change for uploaders no matter where they put their minds. I think expanding intelligence will soon allow people to realise this therefore the uploading meme will become obsolete, it will be irrelevant, in the not too distant future.

It is wrong to assume the only way to become immortal is to upload your mind to a "computer." We can easily see immortality will be achieved with not too much effort via regenerative medicine, gene-therapy, general upgrades-patches to DNA, and if you are overly cautious a nano-shield (or femto-shield) to protect you from any accidents.

Some uploaders mention the word "liberate" regarding their desire to escape from the human body. The usage of the word "liberate" is illuminating regarding a psychological bias of feeling trapped. Yes I do realise we are all somewhat trapped by the limitations of being human but uploaders seem to have a disproportionate reaction, an overreaction, to the limits of the human machine. It reminds me of the recent news report about a Russian who killed six people merely because someone scratched his car, allegedly. Analogously our human limitations are perhaps more akin to driving on a flat tyre but my point is valid, namely people are making a mountain out of a molehill, they are having an extreme reaction to a relatively minor problem thus they want to throw everything away. The need for uploaders to escape the limits of the human machine is actually about wanting to escape their minds, thus instead of repairing the scratch or the flat tyre, or upgrading the car with better parts, they want to scrap the entire car. Unfortunately for them they will find their problems will come with them to their new vehicle because, limitations aside, the real problem is the driver.

Thankfully due to expanding intelligence we will never arrive at a situation where uploading actually becomes a popular.

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