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Of Teletransporters and Xerox Copiers

I’ve been reading Susan Blackmore’s book, Consciousness: an introduction, and have come across a thought experiment that I’ve actually given quite a bit of thought on my own when contemplating consciousness transfer into computer hardware as a form of immortality by transcending biology. The experiment, first proposed by Derek Parfit, is used to determine how you view consciousness, from either an ego centered view or a view that the illusion of an ego is the emergent property or bundle of sensory inputs and qualia.

The experiment goes something like this. Imagine that you need to get across town and a crazy physicist tells you that he can transport you there instantaneously using his tech-tacular teletransportation device. How it works is that it scans every molecule in your body and sends that data to another terminal on the other side of town which recreates your body exactly the way you are. The catch is, in order to do this the scan also destroys your existing cells. Would you do it? An exact replica of you would step out on the other side exactly as you are right now. All your memories, thoughts, hopes, dreams, and bodily odors would be reproduced down to the quantum position of every proton of nitrogen in the urea of your moderately full bladder. If you wouldn’t because you feel that the replica that stepped out of the machine on the other side of town wouldn’t actually be the you contemplating this decision, that you would, in effect die and merely be a copy on the other side, then you are an ego theorist in terms of how your consciousness operates. If you don’t think there would be any difference as long as you came out exactly the same on the other side, that your consciousness would continue due to the emerging states of thought, sensory input and feeling, then you are supposedly  a “bundle theorist”. Continue Reading

How to be an Expert in Everything, Without Knowing Anything.

In the Age of Information, Ignorance is a Choice.

In the age of the internet, knowledge is literally at our fingertips. Information that was available only to university students and doctoral candidates a few decades ago, is now just a click away, but the amount of information available is growing at an exponential rate. It’s growing so fast, in fact, that we are having to develop new technologies just to cope with it all. This arms-race between information and technology is growing faster and faster. Once can almost drown in it all, and experts are relatively few. In fact, the concept of an expert in information technology is almost a misnomer. Not only does technology grow, but it also changes. This evolution is so frighteningly quick that new positions and titles are being created every few years just to have something to call the experts who work on it. Currently, I’m a Voice over IP engineer. That didn’t exist a decade ago, and wouldn’t have been dreamed of twenty years ago. When I entered the information technology arena, I had no idea what VoIP was, nor that I was going to become an “expert” in it. But what did it take for me to gain this expertise? It certainly wasn’t a college degree, I only have a GED and when I went to college it was for anything but information technology. I became an expert because I had to. It was a strategy of adaptation. I took something new, and I figured it out. I studied what I could, both online and off. But is that all I know? Am I a VoIP Engineer, full stop? No. I had to become an expert in quite a few different kinds of technologies, on-the-fly, and without an iota of an idea of what I was doing. This didn’t come from some cowboy ideology of not needing the “system” to get by, in fact, there weren’t any classes at my local college that even covered this subject. The technology was brand-new and I was growing right along with it. There were no experts, just devices and instruction manuals.

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