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Tom Toles
Posted at 07:15 AM ET, 07/15/2013

I, robot

Have you ever been so soundly asleep that waking up is like being lifted slowly out of a cryogenic vat filled with layers of unconsciousness of varying profundity?

This may or may not be an analogy for coming back from vacation, which I am. It could be also be a metaphor for going ON vacation, which, alas, I’m not. While on this subject, the biggest mistake the US has made is in having the least amount of vacation in the world. If you don’t agree, then ask yourself again when you’re on your deathbed.

Anyway, when you wake up from shallow sleep, you’re not even sure you WERE asleep, and the only way to tell is that there is a gap in your present-moment awareness thread. The next layer down, you wake up and have a sense of how long you were asleep. Lower still, you have no sense of what time it even IS. Next is no sense of what day it is. Then, where you are. Lower still, you don’t even remember WHO you are. And deepest of all, (and rare), is not knowing what universe this is.

Coming up through these layers is just like a computer booting up. Yes? The lights flicker back on one at a time? The icons reappear? So we are just like computers! Or we must think so because of the really dumb idea some people have that they will ‘upload’ themselves into a computer and live forever. No. Here’s why this is so stupid. All you would be uploading is that patchy knowledge base of yours, which is, think about it, not too impressive. You are no Wikipedia. And okay, your uploaded ‘self’ might be able to mimic a few of your thought patterns. But not many of them and here’s why. What you’d be leaving behind is the way you FEEL about things. Your uploaded brain, on a computer, could access new information, but why would it want to? Without feeling, there is no motivation, and even if you programmed in the ‘learn more’ function, without real feeling, how would you assess and appreciate that information?Or even your memories? Feeling is what life is. Thought is a tool. Unless you don’t employ any feeling in the way you interact with the world, in which case you are already a robot.

By  |  07:15 AM ET, 07/15/2013

 
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