- This pseudo-Paper is intended as the mechanism to record time spent on the Note 'Brain State Transfer1' during my Thesis research, as from 2011.
- For the actual time recorded, click on "Paper Statistics" above.
Write-up2 (as at 07/09/2020 11:49:55): Brain State Transfer
- The idea that we can, even in principle, copy the information from a brain4 to a backup device and then restore it to another (or the same) brain - as in "Williams (Bernard) - The Self and the Future" - without changing the identity of that brain seems fanciful to me.
- This is partly because I am antipathetic to functionalism5. The information stored in brains appears to be in highly distributed representations along connectionist lines rather than according to classical AI. The very physical structure6 of the brain changes along with what it represents. There is no simple software / hardware distinction in a realistic psychology7 of human beings8.
- Consequently, this is a case of an under-specified TE9 that Kathleen Wilkes so objects to. When we try to flesh out the details, we find that the TE doesn’t really work. Any backup will need to be molecule by molecule to retain the informational richness of the original, and consequently any restore will not really simply modify the existing brain, but will destroy it and replace it with a replica10 of the brain whose contents are supposedly being transferred. It will not simply feed information into a pre-existing brain.
- Hence, I now think that Bernard Williams’s intuitions about the post-transfer A-body-person remaining a “mixed up” A-person are incorrect. Nor does A-body-person end up as B, but as a fusion of a replica of B’s brain and A’s body11. The situation is best described as a transplant12 of (maybe only part of) a replica of B’s brain into A-body-person’s head. A-body-person may end up confused, but only because – it seems to him – he’s obtained a new body.
- Of course, this TE retains all the difficulties associated with Brain Transplants13. A particular brain is wired up to control a particular body, and won’t work adequately with a new one.
- This topic is related to other Notes, including:-
→ Brain Transplants14
→ Transhumanism15, and
- Note that “uploading” differs from – and builds on – BSTs because it requires the person’s psychology and phenomenal consciousness to be realised (I would say merely simulated) on a digital computer, making a two-phase project, whereas BSTs – superficially at least – just require the copying phase.
- For a Page of Links17 to this Note, Click here.
- Works on this topic that I’ve actually read18 include the following:-
- "Dainton (Barry) - Self: Philosophy In Transit: Prologue", Dainton
- "Ehring (Douglas) - Personal Identity and Time Travel", Ehring
- "Johnston (Mark) - Human Beings", Johnston
- "Marshall (Richard) & Olson (Eric) - Eric T. Olson: The Philosopher with No Hands", Marshall & Olson
- "Williams (Bernard) - The Self and the Future", Williams
- The categorised reading-list doesn’t provide much, though there must be many references in the literature. Many will mention BSTs only in passing. So, for now, the reading list (where not covered elsewhere) might start with:-
- "Agar (Nicholas) - Functionalism and Personal Identity", Agar
- "Olson (Eric) - Personal Identity (Stanford, 2015)", Olson
- "Perry (John) - Williams on The Self and the Future", Perry
- "Shoemaker (Sydney) - Functionalism and Personal Identity - a Reply", Shoemaker
- "Shoemaker (Sydney) - Personal Identity: a Materialist Account", Shoemaker
- This is mostly a place-holder19.
- This is the write-up as it was when this Abstract was last output, with text as at the timestamp indicated (07/09/2020 11:49:55).
- Link to Latest Write-Up Note.
- Of course, even in a digital computer there are physical changes to the various gates and storage media.
- But there is no growing or disassembling of connections.
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020