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    Thread: My Paradox

    1. #1
      Xei
      UnitedKingdom Xei is offline
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      My Paradox

      I often find myself thinking about the great puzzles which mankind is yet to solve. In fact, I probably think about them too much; it can't be particularly healthy. Things like Creation, and sentience... In fact, it's the subject of sentience towards which my thoughts turned. I found myself thinking:

      According to science, sentience arises due to the incredibly (yet not infinitely) complex latice of what are, in essence, atoms in our brains, through which energy flows.

      If these atoms were to suddenly disappear (which is in theory possible, although such things are not relevant to this), then so would the sentience.

      Conversely, if an exact copy of (for clarity's sake) 'you', were to suddenly materialise just next to yourself, what would happen? The answer is that (as the brain structure formed in memory is a physical thing), the original you would observe a clone suddenly appearing nearby, whilst the new you would believe that they were the original you, who had just experienced an instantaneous jump over a short distance. The crucial point here is that new sentience is created, and the original sentience mantained: you still 'exist'. Your sentience isn't 'blurred' between the two bodies or anything.

      Now, here we come to the interesting point. What if the old you was destroyed at exactly the same time that a new you was created, a couple of metres away? Following the above logic, your sentience would be destroyed, and new sentience would be created. No paradox as of yet. However, what if the 'new you' was created not a couple of metres away, but a couple of centimetres? Well, it makes no difference. It's just on a different scale. And what about millimetres? Micrometres? Nanometres? Still, we reach the same conclusion: Loss of original sentience, creation of new sentience. And what if we decrease the distance even further? What if it becomes infentesimally small? Your neurons take an infentesimal and instantaneous jump to the left, and yet still you 'die'. This makes no sense, as virtually nothing has changed. Just the tiny movement of particles.

      Thus, we have my paradox. What does it prove? That human conciousness does not arise through physical prescence, but perhaps something... more? Or perhaps it proves that all of you do not exist, but are purely figurements of my imagination?

      Well, you can take that last one with a grain of salt, but still, opinions on this would be greatly appreciated. If you didn't understand me, please say so.

      Thank you!

    2. #2
      Member Ardent Lost's Avatar
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      Just a couple of things:

      1. As far as i know science hasn't proven any origin of sentience. Or do you mean this is the general consensus among the scientific community? I'm not really familiar with scientific theory, sorry

      2. I'm not sure where the idea of clones comes from, or how it relates to sentience. I think maybe i've understood things wrong.

      Are you saying that rather than being made up of a solid physical construct that moves around as a whole, we instead de-materialize and materialize in minutely different spaces as we travel?

      I think better come back and read this when i'm in the proper frame of mind

      Interesting post!

    3. #3
      Xei
      UnitedKingdom Xei is offline
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      The common accepted theory is that the latice of neurons (through which pass signals) in the brain make us sentient. Everything else the brain does also relies on neurons: memory, interpreting incoming data (sight etc.), moving the body...

      There is no other scientific theory as to how we are sentient,, because there is no other substance in the universe apart from matter and energy.

      I use the word 'clone', but it isn't the right word, really... what I mean is an exact atom-by-atom copy of the original person. Therefore, every neuron in the brain has been replicated and they are essentially the same person, memory and all. They would think that they are the original because nothing in their brains has changed. The only thing that they would notice is that they had suddenly jumped to another location. It's a very weird concept, but you would have (according to science) created a new lump of sentience.

      Is that clearer..?

      I'd like some more posts, peeps! Don't be afraid, now.

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      my personal take is that iit's not the pattern of neuron firings that "makes" us sentient, but rather is a good symptom of sentience.

      but that aside, this is an interesting question that is a pretty common theme in cognitive philosophy. one theory about consciousness (which i will now use interchangeably with sentience) is that it arises from the brain and the complex self-editing pattern therein that is laid out by electrical potentials within the neurons that determine which neurons will fire when and to where (simplified description, obviously). by this token, you could take a copy of your brain, neuron for neuron, and put it into some kind of super computer and set it in motion, and you would have a copy of yourself. you could have some inputs that would translate air vibrations into sound, electromagnetic radiation into light, etc. at first it seems like this is a copy of you, but the moment it comes into existence it stops being you. it is very very similar to you but it has already experienced something that "you" have not.

      i think it's the same way with your example, creating a copy and destroying the original at the same time. the copy probably wouldn't notice anything, but it is already different just by having come into existence an infinitessimally small distance away. your consciousness wouldn't transfer over, the copy would just have an infinitessimally similar consciousness as yours once was.

      this is all, of course, assuming that consciousness is totally based on the neuronal net, and not some sort of magical energy.
      gragl

    5. #5
      Xei
      UnitedKingdom Xei is offline
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      Hmm... What I'm talking about here is not how similar the conciousnesses are, but if they're yours, or somebody else's...

      You can't lose a 'little bit' of your sentience or anything... either it's gone, or it's there; and following logic, if it takes an instantaneous jump over a tiny distance, it's gone. Which doesn't make much sense.

      What it seems to say is that conciousness 'belongs' to the atoms. If you get new atoms in their place, even though they have exactly the same structure, the conciousness is also new. So it follows that there is something 'more' to the atoms which defines them. Either that, or conciousness isn't brought about by mass and energy at all.

      Do you follow?

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      Originally posted by Xei
      Hmm... What I'm talking about here is not how similar the conciousnesses are, but if they're yours, or somebody else's...
      exactly, i mean to say, that new consciousness is not yours, no matter how similar it is.

      What it seems to say is that conciousness 'belongs' to the atoms. If you get new atoms in their place, even though they have exactly the same structure, the conciousness is also new. So it follows that there is something 'more' to the atoms which defines them. Either that, or conciousness isn't brought about by mass and energy at all. [/b]
      perhaps consciousness is an independent energy which is merely adept at manipulating atoms and thus the neuronal processes we can see are just the effects of consciousness (i.e. a cloud of "consciousness" hanging above your head at all times reaching a tentacle into your brain to steer your legs, arms, thoughts, etc with neuron firing), afterall, we know that neurons control the body, but what controls the neurons? or rather, what starts them in this crazy pattern that immediately is able to control itself? we still haven't been able to come up with the "equation" that allows for this self-altering infinitely recursive function to exist, but i guess it's always possible that millions of years of evolution have come up with the perfect solution in our DNA.
      gragl

    7. #7
      Rotaredom Howie's Avatar
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      Xei. For what it is worth.
      Some people are hard wired to question. That is you. If you come to terms that you are not a person who can sit back idle and perceive life through their eyes alone. It may be easier for you to question "things" without burden. If you know what I am talking about.

      What I do know. Think It seems IMO, that once you have started up that first rung of the ladder, there is no going back down. But awareness and what comes out of it is well worth the sentient train of thought.
      Not everything has to have an answer.


      I believe sentience and consciousness to be relative to one another.
      Being a sentient being we have the capacity to having as the dictionary would have it:
      : sense perception; conscious:
      Experiencing sensation or feeling.

      And what is an experience? Subjective! Without evidence or memory is is nothing more than a thought. It is like one long stream of consciousness. So to be cognizant it is an action, a verb.
      It takes perception. And out of perception comes the "story" of you or me. I collection of memories streaming together to make up (However miskewed they are) what we consider the "I" Our conditioned ego or sense of self.
      So to begin new, without memory... a new story would begin.
      With the perfect circumstances the similar story may be written but could never be duplicates.

    8. #8
      Member O-Nieronaut's Avatar
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      Something tells me this topic will soon be moved to philosophy, but I'm all in! I love this stuff!

      The question, as I see it, it what makes you you. There is a good analogy I heard regarding Abe Licoln's axe. The axe is put in a musem on display, but after some time, the wooden handle begins to decompose, so it is replaced with new wood, made to the exact specifications. Some years later, the head begins to rust and fall apart, so they replace that with a new head. Is it still Lincoln's axe? Before you say no, consider the following: every seven years, the human body will have completely replaced every speck of matter in itself through ingestion and excretion, and through respiration, and persperation, etc... In a physical sense, the person you were seven years ago is no more "you" than Lincoln's refurbished axe. But somehow, you are still you. The human body - and mind, in my opinion - are dynamic open systems; what defines it isn't the "stuff" that it's composed of, but it's shape, it's form. We are all constantly changing. Strictly speaking, you are not the same person from one moment to the next. Each passage of a fraction of a nanosecond introduces you to change. Your body changes, and through your perceptions, the landscape of your mind changes. The enduring self is an illusion, created by our minds through evolution and survival. It's a cool trick to keep the system alive.

      My personal belief is that we are more than our particles, so if your particles suddenly jumped to a different spot, then I think there would something missing, but it wouldn't surprise me to see the new person behave normaly, even recall being the other person.

      I know I'm long winded, but if you're interested in what I said, you might like my blog On the Nature of Intelligence. I'm currently working on a paper that bridges the gap between these theories and things like dreaming, lucid dreaming, and astral travel. Let me know if you're interested, and I'll put you on a list of people to send it to when I'm done. [/spam]

      Good idea for a discussion! I hope to see more![/url]

      <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(\"Gwendolyn\")</div>
      *
      ...your looks are so dashing and your zen-like omnicence is so potent...

    9. #9
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      It wouldn't really matter. It's highy improbible to the point it's impossible. It doesn't matter or all my atoms right now get replaced with atoms from china, and maybe they are, who knows. As long as they stay in the same structure it doens't matter and nothing changes.
      “What a peculiar privilege has this little agitation of the brain which we call 'thought'” -Hume

    10. #10
      Xei
      UnitedKingdom Xei is offline
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      You have failed to understand. This is not about quantum physics. What matters is that it is possible (however remotely) that such things could happen, and we can manipulate that to follow certain paths of logic.

    11. #11
      Member O-Nieronaut's Avatar
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      You'd be surprised how much is about quantum physics! Have you seen the movie "What the bleep do we know?"

      <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(\"Gwendolyn\")</div>
      *
      ...your looks are so dashing and your zen-like omnicence is so potent...

    12. #12
      Rotaredom Howie's Avatar
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      Originally posted by O&#045;Nieronaut
      Something tells me this topic will soon be moved to philosophy, but I'm all in! I love this stuff!
      [Moved to Philosophy]

      What the "Bleep:do we know was a remarkable account of how disarranged that the Quinta realm is.
      But we no so little with the quintam mechanics of things that I think that it is as philosophical as this topic.

      Interesting Oneironaut -- "The nature of things." > I would be one who would like to know more when you compile your data. Please.

      Xei. You have posted the idea and ideas have come back. What is your theory. your are posing your comments like that of questions.

    13. #13
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      Xei, I have thought many times about that same question. If we are to assume that we are just a compilation of atoms, then an exact duplicate should be infact conscious too. A good point was made about our body's regeneration every 7 years. There is nothing unique about the atoms themselves. What is more important is the arrangement of the atoms and the underlying neural network.

      The clone self would, at the exact instant of duplication, be identical to you. After that point the consciousness would likely diverge due to differing sensory input. The clone could still retain all memory of the original, and think it was the "real" one, but these would only be memories. The original consciousness would remain intact. When and where this happens or if the original gets destroyed, etc. should have no effect on the outcome.

      If you can believe that consciousness is one single entity, then it makes a little more sense. So our bodies are merely vessels for this cosmic consciousness. Imagine consciousness as a never-ending sea. We would be cups of these substance. Like water, it would conform to the shape of its container. But nevertheless still be the same element.

      // cybereality

    14. #14
      Member landsquid's Avatar
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      Sorry if this has already been said but I dont have time to read all the posts. This is a very interesting look at things. Sence theres no way for us to know this is happening and theres no way to stop it we just have to go on beleaveing that we are ourselfs even though our bodys are constently beeing remaded. but what i wanted to say was there use to be a show on cartoon network several years ago, I think like 8 years ago. It was called "o canada" it was a colection of short cartoons one episode had this situation the guy got in to a box and came out of a different box. The man who made the boxes claimed it was teleportation, but when someone saw inside the box they found out it was killing the original and an exact copy was made, and the copy never knew he was a clone.
      I was around nine when I saw it so it desturbed me a little bit but I still liked the show.

      >>>>>Dream Theater<<<<<

    15. #15
      Member kage's Avatar
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      i think that, if the "clone" or whatever you want to call it is conscious or sentient, then that proves that consciousness/sentience does stem purely from the physical components.

      furthermore, i don't believe either one would be the "original" consciousness and the other one the "new" or the "copy." consider this: suppose that someone invented a machine that will take a sort of "picture" of you at a given moment and record all the pertinent information for all your atoms. then, hours later, it will create an exact duplicate of you. this is the same idea as the original post, except that the two copies are displaced in time instead of (or in addition to) space. this consciousness would have all the same memories and perceptions as you, up until the point the "photo" was taken. then, to him, time would seem to just skip forward a few hours. one moment it's three, the next it's seven. now imagine, for simplicity's sake, that the "old" you is destroyed the moment the new one is created, hours later. this will have no bearing on the subjective experience of the "new" one. now lets decrease the time difference. the new one now appears nanoseconds after the "photo" is taken, in the same position, and the old one is destroyed at exactly the same time. to an outside observer, nothing has happened.

      now combine all that with the idea floating aroud physicists's circles these days that time and space are not continuous. that is, there is a certain discrete "smallest possible unit of time or space." in movies, the smallest possible unit of time is 1/24th of a second, since there are 24 frames per second. the idea is that the universe is really like this. time goes by in frames. space too. so if this is true, then we are being destroyed and recreated every moment! (let's consider the moment to be the smallest unit of time.) so basically, everything is frozen in place for exactly one moment, then instantly shifts to a new location for one moment, and so on. this being the case, one's consciousness is simply a connected series of moments. when you are teleported, or a clone of you materialises a few feet away, you aren't really experiencing anything you haven't been experiencing your entire life. you're just experiencing it on a much larger scale.

      so they are both the original. they are both legitimately "you."

    16. #16
      Xei
      UnitedKingdom Xei is offline
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      Phew, I haven't checked into DV for quite a while...

      Well, I'll just say to kage that the above is brilliant, it's exactly what I'm talking about: the manipulation of proven physical concepts to attempt to provide insights into conciousness.

      I had thought pretty much exactly what you wrote when I was thinking about this. I decided to use the space version only for the reason that it's a bit simpler. It's also very interesting how this subject seems to create a bridge between space and time in such a way; although that's deviating a little.

      I'd also thought about the idea of a 'grid/frame' universe giving a logical answer to my paradox: and it does. It suggests that sentience is mantained via the existence of certain particles at certain grid locations, and if they shift, then sentience is destroyed.

      However... problems occur when you do not assume that the grid/frame version is the way that the universe works: and to put it bluntly, I don't. The only way that the universe would have such a way of functioning is, in my opinion, if it was a mathematical construction (allusions to the idea of a Matrix). Otherwise, time and space are both completely indiscrete; a natural construction.

      Here's a thought I sometimes have: Imagine that at this very moment, you have been created. Your particles have formed, and the energy has started to flow. Really think about this: does that seem believable? I think for everybody, their instinctive answer will be 'no'. This leads you to wonder why you believe that.

      The current stance is that you believe this because you can remember being here moments before, but that this is an illusion: memory is just particles.

      However, when I imagine this, I never seem convinced by that. It always seems that my reason for believing that I was concious a few moments ago is not that I can remember existing; it's something else. It's as if I can feel the 'continuity' between this moment and the last moment; something other than memory.

      I hope you get my drift, it's not the easiest thing to describe.

      I'd think about this a little more, but it's getting a little too late for me to be pondering over the greatest unsolved mysteries of the universe, so I'll give it another go tomorrow.

      Please post any thoughts.

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