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Old November 5 2012, 10:01 PM   #231
Christopher
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Re: TNG: The Persistence of Memory by David Mack Review Thread (Spoile

Bonzo the Fifth wrote: View Post
Soong's character hit it best when he mused that, given the time and resources, he could use nanites/nanoprobes to pull a Ship of Theseus on himself for maximum assurance regarding identity. Even then, though, there's not a way to know whether continuity of consciousness would survive.

It's the continuity of consciousness that's the real problem here. The truth is, we simply don't know how any of these issues can resolve themselves in real life. Maybe consciousness is malleable enough to survive the sort of indignities one would experience in Trill joining, uploading, resurrection, or even the dematerialization and rematerialization of transport.
But the key word is right there: continuity. In the case of Soong's example, joining, or even transporting, there is evidently continuity of consciousness (we've seen in "Realm of Fear" that people are conscious within the transporter beam, that they have uninterrupted awareness throughout the process). But this case is clearly different. Data only copied his memories into B-4. It was never intended to be a transfer of his complete self, of his personality. It was only his stored knowledge and experiences. So what was loaded into the Soong android was not the entirety of Data's consciousness. The consciousness comes from the android; it's just had its own memories overwritten with Data's.


If we can accept that the person that comes out the other end of a transporter is the same person who went in, or that James Kirk is still Kirk even after he's been split into two people with different personalities and reintegrated, or that Spock would be the same after dying, being reconstituted and having his katra restored to his body, then I see no problem expanding the concept to include what has happened to Data as a closest continuer to the Data of old.
Actually I've never been entirely convinced that post-fal tor pan Spock is the same individual as pre-Genesis Spock. Even if you do surmise that the mind melds allowed continuity of consciousness (which could be the case if you assume telepathy is a form of quantum entanglement, providing continuity in the same way a transporter does, as discussed here), we were explicitly shown that he'd lost much of his memory and needed to be re-educated. And considering that the brain is shaped by life experience and the physical body of the Genesis-cloned Spock had very different and briefer experiences than the original, it follows that there should've been some differences in psychology and personality as well.

But at least Spock's katra was placed into a body and brain that were genetically identical to the original, so they would've "fit" together relatively well and the changes wouldn't have been too great, memory loss aside. Data 2.0's brain has significant differences of design and performance, and that should affect how he thinks and behaves.


Is he an unbroken consciousness? No. But then, what happens when he goes through transport? When he's shut down? When you flip his switch? ... We accepted those changes. Why not this?
Why do we have to "accept" anything? Why should we be in haste to pick a side? For a question this complex, a situation this novel, isn't the intelligent response to reserve judgment, to keep an open mind? After all, if Data 2.0 himself isn't jumping to a conclusion about who he is, why should the rest of us?


Bonzo the Fifth wrote: View Post
Possibly something closer to parthenogenesis or cloning, since we're talking about a form of reproduction more intimate than merely having a child. We're talking about an identical state of being, same memories and experiences, possibly translated into a different medium, like the duplicated Chrichton from Farscape or the Thomas Riker/Will Riker conundrum.
I dispute "identical." The medium is part of the message. A brain is not merely an empty vessel that a self is poured into. Part of what Data was -- his knowledge and experiential memory -- was combined with part of what the Soong android was -- his neurology and resulting thought patterns. Not identical at all.

To make a crude analogy, when I open a WordPerfect file in MS Word, it isn't always identical. Because the software running it is different, there are differences in how it manifests and performs. There are things I could do with the document in WP that I can't do with it in Word, and vice-versa. Similarly, a given website viewed in Opera can perform differently than it would in Explorer or Firefox. Or a game written for Windows 5 may play differently on Windows 8. There need to be compatibility patches enabled, and even then there can be differences. The platform is part of what determines the performance. And a mind, a personality, is performance, activity, process, not just inert knowledge.



Unfortunately, we just don't really know anything about how positronic brains work.
Except that Dave told us how they work, at least where this book is concerned. The text states outright that only Data's memories were saved and placed into a brain with significant hardware and firmware differences. The text states outright that Data 2.0 feels like a different person and is thus unsure if he can be validly regarded as the same individual. All I'm doing is elaborating on the assumptions the book itself is apparently making.


But if memories were all that made a man, wouldn't Data have gone mad when he absorbed Lore's memories and experiences or had a similar cascade failure as Lal when he downloaded her? It seems odd that Soong would simply erase himself and turn himself into a clone of Data. Something about that doesn't quite ring true, especially given the 'dream sequence' where he wakes Data.
I think the book explained why Soong had to sacrifice himself in this distinct case, though I don't recall specifics. Again, I don't see the value of treating every remotely similar situation as exactly identical. Each case is different.
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