Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Am I my connectome?

Phil Jaekl, Aeon, Mar 30, 2021

The concrete part of this is that "each human brain possesses a unique, intricate pattern of 86 billion neurons." That pattern is called the 'connectome'. The question is, what follows from that? We know that even for twins, "grow, learn and experience the world, their brains diverge, and their essential selves become increasingly unique." And we know, because we can revive people who have 'died' in freezing water, "neural electrical activity alone is not essential for the storage of memory in the brain." In my view, consciousness is that active state of experiencing the world, and is influenced by (but not the same as) our memories, which are the actual pattern of connectivity. Anyhow, the question considered in this article is whether we could record the connectome, transfer it to a new medium, like an artificial brain, and start it up again. Would it be the same person? I think this would depend a lot on the conscious experience; we would begin by very strongly believing we are the same person, but if the conscious experience were significantly different, we would be cast into more and more doubt.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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