Another "Consciousness Upload" Hypothetical

Okay, we all know the consciousness hypothetical scenario - the one where we wonder whether the the digital/cloned version of ourselves is really us or whether it’s a copy.

Here’s my hypothetical.

Bravo Incorporated has developed a virtual world that is, for its inhabitants, indistinguishable from reality. BI has also developed the means by which humans can upload their consciousness into this virtual world. All of the sci-fi utopian promises inherent in this sort of scenario are present - eternal youth, beauty, and wealth, selective amnesia for infinite variety and pleasure, and so on. There are some harrowing caveats, though.

  1. This is a one-way trip. It has been conclusively proven that “download” from the virtual world and back to the meatspace will never be possible.

  2. This is not strictly an upload and is not strictly a copy/paste operation. The original mind must be conscious during the procedure, and goes through a conscious “death” as a result. The original mind and the copied mind have a consciousness overlap of about five minutes, and communication (via a monitor/speaker setup) is possible during that period. Most importantly, the upload is a distinctly different copy, and while “it” still thinks it’s you, you will die fully aware that your life is ending.

  3. The procedure is fairly taxing on the body’s cardiovascular system, so the poorer your health, the greater likelihood that you’ll lose consciousness during the procedure. If that happens, you simply die.

Assuming that the cost is not prohibitive, would you do it? How late in life would you wait?

I guess I’m asking if you would participate in sci-fi assisted suicide if it meant a computer version of you got to bone sexbots for the rest of eternity? It sounds cheap that way, though.

No, I’m guessing the hypthetical is that all the benign afterlife stuff is guarenteed? Because that would be my main concern, at least in this life no matter what happens its finite and you can only be killed once.

And I can’t quite decided if creating another version of me to experience all that neat stuff is selfishly narcisstic or nobly generous.

Yes, sorry if I didn’t make it clear. The benign afterlife portion is legit. You can substitute “matrix afterlife” for “a shiny new robot body” if you like, I think the overall choice remains the same.

Well my main concern is that the afterlife could be turned into a negative experience but if the hypothetical says that isn’t possible and its all good from death on out then I don’t see what the downside would be.

The only pity is that its a different version of you that would get to experience it, but hey I’m generous. (and maybe if there’s a traditional afterlife that would be bonus points for that) :wink:

Once my physical body got too old, I could see doing it. Physical health varies, but I’d imagine somewhere in the 60-75 age range, it would be worth taking the plunge. If it didn’t work as promised, I haven’t lost my whole natural life and if it does work, there’s no arthritis, etc.

I don’t have religious beliefs that frame suicide as being particularly bad (not good, mind you) so I wouldn’t be overly concerned about that bit.

The real issue, though, is that in real life I wouldn’t have the OP’s guarantees. It’s all well and good for me to tell you in a hypothetical post that Windows 11 will be the best thing ever and will have no downsides at all and ask you why not upgrade… it’s something entirely different when Microsoft makes that promise in real life. Real life doesn’t offer the level of certainty we can get from a hypothetical, and in real life, I don’t know that Bravo Industries could make any promises that would be convincing to me. So in a more real life scenario, I think I’d pretty much wait to do it until I was already on my death bed with less than a year to go.

“You are going to die so that your identical twin can have a great time and live forever!”

Ummm…no. No, thank you.

Wouldn’t do it. I don’t believe in the Utopian concept. In order to experience pleasure, you have to also experience that shitty things in life.

No. I don’t care if a copy of me gets to live the life of Riley forever. Even if it didn’t involve me physically dying, why would I care if a copy of me inside a computer simulation is experiencing paradise?

Obviously I believe that the existence of a being that behaves exactly as I would is a positive contribution to the world. (If only to make sure the right political candidates get votes.)

So in that sense I wouldn’t be against this in principle. But it would still be a computer that acted like me rather than actually be me, and I don’t want the actual me to die any sooner than necessary.

The real question is: what if you could upload the state of your brain and live on as a computer program or robot but your body dies, or have the state of your brain wiped and replaced with someone else’s, but your physical body gets to live on?

I’d go for option 2, even though I would be very different, it would be “me” that’s different. I don’t even think my consciousness would be replaced, although my memories would be different and perhaps even certain non-memory aspects of my personality.

This is my answer to any claim that a perfect copy of a person is that person: “Oops-so sorry your body didn’t immediately disintegrate when we recreated it planetside. If you could take this handgun, walk over to the middle of that large plastic sheet and blow your brains out, we’ll just pretend this little hiccup never happened. Okey dokey?”

This reminds me of the premise of Robert J. Sawyer’s Mindscan, although in that case robot bodies were used instead of a virtual world and the original human bodies typically were around quite a bit longer after the copying process.

If I was already near death anyway I’d take the risk of “just dying”. At least in a sense I would partially live on, and I’d have nothing much to lose.

No, a slightly divergent copy “isn’t me”; but it’s not not me either. It’s in between. It’s still *mostly *me, in fact, if it hasn’t had much chance to diverge yet. The binary me/not me view of identity wasn’t really made for situations like this.

Oh, why not just offer to make a life-size laminated cardboard cutout photo-poster standup of the client – “It looks just like you!” – to pose in his/her stead for every situation?

There’s your “everlasting copy”! Wouldn’t everyone be willing to die for their lookalike cardboard cutout?

Agreed. I watched my father die of Parkinson’s. If he could have copied himself to a “BI” system at 65, then we’d still have him, as a person, a friend, a father. Now, he’s just plain gone. (He was “gone” before he died; the Parkinson’s destroyed his mind, leading him into a second infancy.)

Long before I got that sick, I’d opt to upload to a sim.

I have no interest in suicide at this time, thanks. Maybe if I catch a terminal disease with lots of pain or mental deterioration involved, but otherwise, I’m cool with riding out this life as-is.

How about this wrinkle?

In the VR “Life”, the only other creatures are the ones some meat-based person has put in a box and zapped - Lassie and Ben and a few hundred cats.
Maybe some billionaire will buy a large zoo and upload the whole thing.

And the only people will be the ones who really thought this would be a good idea.

First off: can the VR lifeforms make babies? If, after 100 billion years (and what happens when the power goes out?) I decide I really would like to kill Cecil the lion - is there a line of “people” waiting to kill the one and only lion in the VR world? Or could Cecil and Lady Cie have raised enough VR cubs for every one to have one of their own?

And: if everyone waits until they are old and half senile to join, can their minds really be corrected? Will I really once again be up for making babies and raising them?

Do we get to specify just what characteristics our VR selves have? How many want to be school teachers? How many want to be school children?

(I am convinced that, if anyone ever tries to comprehend anything close to ‘Eternal Life’, in any form, they will be terrified. Only the ones who cannot/will not contemplate the enormity of it can think it a desirable state)

Unless this VR has a way of dying/re-booting with clean slate and no memories could it be tolerable,

Maybe! Start-from-scratch AI may be possible. Hal, from 2001, might be something we can some day create. The concept is certainly not dismissible a priori.