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Old 04-20-2012, 09:49 PM   #161
vierasmarius
 
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Default Re: Space Opera vs Hard Sci-Fi, personal vs realistic

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Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
Assuming that there is some metaphysical aspect to human consciousness is NOT the scientific conservative opinion.
I don't think that's what he was saying, just that we don't know enough about consciousness yet to say how difficult Ghosting would be. IMO, that doesn't put it in the same level of impausibility as FTL, since we do have some idea of the difficulty of accelerating past light speed (ie, infinitely hard) or bypassing it in some way (warping space with ludicrous energy levels, or using exotic negative-mass materials). Ghosting as presented in TS and similar fiction is pretty implausible, but the idea itself has merit.
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Old 04-20-2012, 09:56 PM   #162
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Default Re: Space Opera vs Hard Sci-Fi, personal vs realistic

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The trouble is that we know far less about the nature of consciousness, and what it woudl take (assuming it can be done) to replicate it artificially, than we do about how to build a fusion power plant. The gap between theory and practice is far, far greater with the replicated mentality. That's why I used the example of fission vs. phlogiston.

We can say with some meaning that as far as we know, many if not most of the genemod humans of THS are potentially realistic. The gap between theory and practice is small enough to do that. We can't meaningfully do the same with 'ghosting', we don't know enough to make the assessment. Ghosting is more like FTL, the genemod humans are more like fusion power.
You seem to be equating a difference in degree with a difference in kind. To say that we know less about X than about Y is to say that we know something about both X and Y. But you write of consciousness as if it were something about which we know nothing at all, something still essentially mysterious. I don't think it is mysterious in that way. I think there are all kinds of little mysteries in the details, but there is not one great Mystery.

And above all, whereas I'm perfectly willing to accept the proposition that physics shows that FTL is impossible, making FTL in sf purely fantastic, I don't think there is any justification for the belief that a purely materialistic explanation of consciousness is impossible. I certainly don't think that such a thing has been proven. So I don't think it's proper to say that fully conscious digital entities are violations of natural law as FTL is.

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Old 04-20-2012, 09:57 PM   #163
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Default Re: Space Opera vs Hard Sci-Fi, personal vs realistic

If a brain is physical then it can be modeled.
How difficult it is may be a question. But it's not impossible or even that implausible. It would simply require a boat load of computational power and programming. I certainly agree that only 100 years is not enough to have created that level of computer. But compared to the actual impossibilities in THS, a "very difficult' shouldn't be the stumbling block.
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Old 04-20-2012, 09:57 PM   #164
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Default Re: Space Opera vs Hard Sci-Fi, personal vs realistic

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Assuming that there is some metaphysical aspect to human consciousness is NOT the scientific conservative opinion.
True, but absent data, 'scentific opinion' carries no particular authority.
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Old 04-20-2012, 10:18 PM   #165
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Default Re: Space Opera vs Hard Sci-Fi, personal vs realistic

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True, but absent data, 'scentific opinion' carries no particular authority.
But we are not "absent data." We know about the effects of chemical substances on consciousness. We know that stimulation of the neurons can produce modifications in consciousness. We know that brain damage can alter the nature of a person's consciousness, or even irreversibly bring it to an end. We can track cognitive and emotional processes, at a gross level, with brain imaging. We have all sorts of evidence that suggest that a materialistic account of consciousness is likely to be attainable; and we do not have a proof that consciousness requires a nonmaterialist explanation.

Of course we don't have a complete materialistic account of consciousness at this time. But that doesn't mean a materialistic account of consciousness is a known impossibility, like perpetual motion machines or general overproduction. It just means we don't have one.

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Old 04-21-2012, 03:32 AM   #166
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Default Re: Space Opera vs Hard Sci-Fi, personal vs realistic

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Shouldn't this whole drift about mind emulations go to the sticky thread of doom? I'm not sure it's terribly relevant to the topic (and I haven't commented on it, despite wanting to because of that and the sticky thread has drifted beyond these IMO more interesting questions, so I don't want to post there now either, if we brought this stuff back over there though...)
I think this bears repeating.
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Old 04-21-2012, 05:58 AM   #167
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Default Re: Space Opera vs Hard Sci-Fi, personal vs realistic

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Originally Posted by vierasmarius View Post
Ghosting as presented in TS and similar fiction is pretty implausible, but the idea itself has merit.
Just to chime in as a classical skeptic and to state the obvious, but there aren't really any grounds for judging even degrees of probability or possibility (or improbability or impossibility) regarding what could be something we may be capable of achieving or even of what exists. We know nothing; it seems unlikely that that will ever change, but really it seems we really can't even say that. Best to always withhold judgement, barring... "something". That "something" can't be anything I know of... not empirical, deductive, inductive, revelational, intuitive, emotional, logical, sense-based... I'm out. All those devolve into circular reasoning, an infinite regress, or an arbitrary stopping point chosen from (often unconscious) preference.

Everything depends on some assumptions. Scientific theories are highly useful approximations, with no necessary truth required. Empiricism generally involves the assumption that highly useful models of reality (useful at matching observed data and making predictions) are more likely to correspond to what is really true, and there's no reason to assume that other than hope or preference, really, in the end. Not all too useful in the tragic case of the brain in the vat that believes the Matrix they experience is all-that-is (a variant on Descartes, except, well, he made assumptions about what "I" and "self" and "think" and "am" are as well, not to mention the classical assumption of existence as the ultimate predicate). Which is precisely the sort of thing that would be possible with hypothetical transhuman and posthuman style technology.

Although to be fair, plausibility is a different story, as it corresponds more to what feels like it might be possible or at least probable. But that will differ from person to person.
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Old 04-21-2012, 03:29 PM   #168
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Default Re: Space Opera vs Hard Sci-Fi, personal vs realistic

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Originally Posted by Johnny1A.2 View Post
The trouble is that we know far less about the nature of consciousness, and what it woudl take (assuming it can be done) to replicate it artificially, than we do about how to build a fusion power plant. The gap between theory and practice is far, far greater with the replicated mentality. That's why I used the example of fission vs. phlogiston.

We can say with some meaning that as far as we know, many if not most of the genemod humans of THS are potentially realistic. The gap between theory and practice is small enough to do that. We can't meaningfully do the same with 'ghosting', we don't know enough to make the assessment. Ghosting is more like FTL, the genemod humans are more like fusion power.
Not to detract too much- but we have functional fusion reactors right now; you can build one for < $2000; the trouble is 'fusion reactor that generates enough power to be self-sustaining' that's the tough part.

discovermagazine.com/2010/extreme-universe/18-do-it-yourself-basement-fusion
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