Friday, January 14, 2011

Separation of body and mind.

I believe that the body and the mind are distinct from one another.

As an example, your body can receive considerable damage while leaving the mind intact. Also, your mind can be completely deranged while your body is pristine.

Because of my belief, I am in support of any future technologies that can transfer and store human consciousness on a substrate other than our carbon-based brains. My belief horrifies many religious people, that is, those that believe in souls.

A girl I know hates the notion of storing human consciousness on a computer because it conflicts with her religious beliefs. But consider the advantages...

Let's say that a 9 year old girl has been shot and killed. With our current technology, that girl is permanently dead. In the future, death might be a temporary inconvenience.

Now take that same 9 year old girl that has been killed. Imagine that her mind is backed up on a computer and a new body can be cloned. To her, being shot and killed would be a minor annoyance, since she could transfer a back-up of her consciousness into a new body and continue living. Even religious people would probably agree that such technology could be beneficial, especially when facing their own deaths.

I do not believe that humans have souls, so I have no problem with storing consciousness on a computer, since it's simply an emergent property of connected neurons. There is no reason why consciousness requires biological neurons. A sufficiently advanced silicon substrate could do the same thing.

Since I don't believe that humans have souls, what do I believe we have? Consciousness. That's what I know for sure. I am conscious. I'm not so sure about YOU.

You'll have to excuse my solipsism, but the problem with souls is that I don't see how they can explain anything that is not already a part of consciousness. Although I feel that shaving with Occam's Razor is trite, I am using it to get rid of the soul.

The conscience, feelings, individuality, personality, fears, scruples (or lack thereof), etc. are parts of consciousness. People that believe in souls are unnecessarily complicating the otherwise straightforward notion of consciousness by claiming there is something that is separate from it other than the body.

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