Re: Resistance to uploading

From: Olie L (
Date: Wed Jan 18 2006 - 19:38:12 MST

{The important bit of this post is nearer the end. The first half is just
bickering/ lame, but it makes a nice lead-up}

>From: Phillip Huggan <>
> The problem is that the consciousness in our brains is material. The
>physical books you destroyed are gone. Even if you have the information
>contained in them, the cellulose fibers are incinerated.

Then the “damage done” in destroying those books would depend on whether
their value was in their information content, or their physical

Sometimes, the physical manifestation is important.

Example: Great works of art have value that extend beyond representations of
the images. An original Van Gogh painting is more valuable than a print.
Admittedly, the bulk of the value is in the image, and prints of Van Gogh
paintings are still great to hang on your wall, but can you imagine
explaining to the National Gallery of Art that you want to destroy a Van
Gogh in order to convert it to digital?

(That points to a matter not relevant to “effective” uploading. Flatbed
scans of books won’t provide as clear a resolution as the original. There
will be a loss of visual quality, which will possibly make reading less
effective, less pleasant or more tiring.)

That aside, there are other things that make physical instantiations
important. It’s not always obvious what these are, which is why a touch of
precautionary prudence is a good thing…

Ms Calendar: Honestly, what is it about them that bothers you so much?
Giles: The smell.
Ms Calendar: Computers don't smell, Rupert.
Giles: I know. Smell is the most powerful trigger to the memory there is. A
certain flower or a whiff of smoke can bring up experiences long forgotten.
Books smell. Musty and, and, and, and rich. The knowledge gained from a
computer, is, it ... it has no texture, no context. It's there and then it's
gone. If it's to last, then the getting of knowledge should be tangible, it
should be, um... smelly

> Really people, this idea of uploading has got to stop. The "dumb" IQ
>100 masses are right on this one, to be averse to suicide.

I don’t think that you can confidently say that uploading=suicide. It
/might/ be possible to be uploaded, while maintaining a “continuity of
consciousness” or some such thing. I doubt that you could prove it to not
be possible.



Even if it is possible to seamlessly upload a person, maintaining continuity
of consciousness, and the uploaded experience doesn’t result in a loss of
subtleties, nonetheless, it is _not_ a good way to go about promoting the
Singularity by promoting Uploading.

Most people find uploading initially repulsive. I don’t care whether this
is justified or not. It’s how people think.

Despite this, Uploading is promoted as one of the Good Things about the
singularity. There’s an intro on the SIAI site with the subtitle “how we
can participate in the Singularity”.

But in order to promote the Singularity as a means to achieve uploading, you
have to convince most people of a lot of things:

(1) Uploading is possible (2) There is a “continuity of consciousness” so
that /You/ get to experience life as an upload. (3) It’s actually more
enjoyable being an uploaded entity than a biological entity (4) A
technological singularity is likely to occur (5) The technological
singularity will assist you to be uploaded.

That’s a lot of things you’d need to convince the average person to support
the singularity.

Furthermore, since most people think that uploading is a bad idea for the
uploadee (and it’s hard to convince them otherwise), any statements to the
effect of (1) “most people will be uploaded” or (2) “everyone will want to
be uploaded” or (3) “un-uploaded people will have difficulty keeping up with
uploaded people” is going to turn them off.

Telling them (1) will make them think that the Singularity is a bad idea,
and/or that you’re a kook. Telling them (2) will make them think that you
don’t understand what they want, so this Singularity thing won’t be what
they want, either. Statement (3) sounds like a Dystopia, and they’ll think
“we should shut these people down immediately.”

By contrast, if you promoting the singularity as a means for the person to
get what they want, by having effectively unlimited, creative computing
power at their disposal, leading to cures for diseases, solutions to
problems… they can dig that.

There is a value in talking about Uploading and brain scanning as a means to
create a human-equivalent intelligence. People easily understand that an
uploaded human will be as smart as a biological human. They also get that
you can just speed up the simulation to make it work faster à creating a
singularity. They might doubt that it is possible, but as long as you’re
not talking about uploading /them/, there’s no reason to get turned off.

One doesn’t need to exist as the uploaded entity to enjoy the benefits of
uploading. A clone of me is useful to me.

Talk about uploading, or even just brain scanning, in /this/ context is
relevant and useful.

Talking about uploading for personal advantage has about as much value as
talking about the fact that post-singularity, you want to have all your
genetic material stored on a single chromosome made from platinum compounds.
  There might be some advantage to this – I don’t know – but it does seem
rather odd and impractical.

I mean, I’d like to have four arms and see infrared. Whoopty doo. I’m not
going to discuss engineering it here.


>Phil Goetz <> wrote:
> For the past month I've been uploading... books.
>I'm scanning my books into PDFs so that I can take
>them with me everywhere. I have to destroy the
>physical books to do this.
>About half of the few people I've talked to about
>this are vigorously opposed to the idea. They
>insist that an electronic text can never be the
>same as a paper one. They feel something like
>horror when thinking of the books chopped up.
>The fact that uploading BOOKS is still controversial
>shows how far we have to go...
>Yahoo! Photos – Showcase holiday pictures in hardcover
> Photo Books. You design it and we’ll bind it!

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