The Liminalist # 121: When the Replicants Come Home (with Aneel Pandey)

First of two-part conversation with Aneel  Pandey, on Transcender corporation, Prisoner of Infinity & transhumanism, being turned into digital, being replaced with an android, what transhumanists want, meeting yourself as an android, memory donors, Star Trek transporter questions, when the replicants come home, persona vs. ego, the proper vector, new maps of possibility, a silicon ego, head transplant, the internal monologue, the three neural systems, what comes prior to thought, what the body knows, the joys of ping pong, reflexive skills, reinventing the universe, why we are here, cosmic parents, why people have children.

“Dream Girl” (song by Aneel’s band)

Songs:  “The Kommema and his Religion”  by SunWalker; “Robot Porn Project” (mix of “Project Robot” by D Smilez &  “I Break Through (Robot Porn Mix)” by The Carbon Manual;  “We Are Robots” by Visitors; “Robots Mking Robots” by Chuzausen.

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  1. Nate
    Posted July 29, 2017 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    I’d challenge Aneel on the whole “your ego dies every night when you go to sleep.” I think most of us with any sort of dream recall can attest to our ego continuing into the dreamworld, at least significant fragments/aspects of it such that we recognize it as the same “me” that persists when we are awake.

    • Jasun
      Posted July 29, 2017 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      True, but there are also periods of dreamless sleep each night. I assumed Aneel was referring to this.

      • Posted July 29, 2017 at 10:41 pm | Permalink
        To your ego there is no difference between NREM Stage 3 sleep and death. The biggest “oh shit” moment I can imagine would be if I died while in NREM Stage 3 sleep and then my ego turned on and I was a disembodied spirtit floating around, like with those people that “die” on the operating table but somehow make it back. In reality, these types of near-death experiences are a program built into our DNA that run in that situation. This occurs to help keep it a secret that your ego really does die when death occurs.

  2. jack hoff
    Posted July 31, 2017 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    This conversation was unbearable!

    • Jasun
      Posted July 31, 2017 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      Please say more.

    • Nate
      Posted August 1, 2017 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      I agree with Jack. It was really painful. I’ve never had to actually turn off a liminalist episode out of frustration and come back to it later when I had more patience. I couldn’t tell if Aneel was dodging Jasun’s very direct questions or if he simply hadn’t thought these things through before. What IS his mission? Why spend so much energy on an imitation of his persona completing his mission when his ego will be gone? Wouldn’t it be more satisfying to the ego and more efficient overall to put mechanisms into place that will finish his mission regardless of his persona carrying it out? Why is the persona essential to completing one’s mission?

      • Posted August 1, 2017 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

        I can empathize with your frustration with the lag in my response times, and thanks for coming back to later when you were in a more tolerant mood If anyone is considering listening to the podcast and they have Windows Media Player, considering speeding it up by 40% and that will help a lot.
        As far as my dodging his questions, I should have just extended what I said about the ego “dying” each night when you go to sleep to say that it would not reactivate if one died while sleeping. The elephant in the room that Jasun was avoiding was the soul, and Jasun and I had a very significant disagreement over the soul when I spoke to him back in 2015 so it did not get broached here otherwise the door on Pandora’s box would have flung open.
        To answer the question about my mission, I believe I answer this in Part II, so that will be cleared up. Briefly though, my mission is to deliver a starship to the galaxy. There is no way I can do this within my remaining lifespan, which is perhaps 50 more years. The question is basically, “why do I care about anything which happens after I die?” That is, “if my biological ego dies why would I want to continue on as a replicant?” The answer is that when the ego dedicates itself to an aligned path serving the Sun, as it attains that goal, even it is never reached, during the journey there is alignment with that celestial body. This alignment with Sun will bring enlightenment to the ego in the present because it is on a divine vector.
        The next question seems to ask simply whether there is a better, more efficient way to complete the mission of constructing the starship than building a replica of oneself to continue the work. If there is, what would that be? I believe that this is the most efficient way so we’ll just see… but if you have a better suggestion I’m all ears. Would it be along the lines of programming the mission into some consciousness in the cloud that controls C-3PO and R2D2 type androids? I’m going to predict that the transition will occur using androids that have successor personalities to people that have actually lived. They can leave their money in their last will and testament to a foundation that supports the life of the replicant when they die. Does that make sense?

  3. Isaac
    Posted August 2, 2017 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    I agree that this was really frustrating to listen to. It doesn’t seem like Aneel has thought through his ideas, as he seems incapable of answering almost any question in a straight line. He says him and the android will be identical in every way, but then says he has one ego and the android will have its own ego (that only the speaker can be replicated). Then when you continue to press him on what happens to his ego when he dies (and he insists on always answering in relation to the android’s ego), he seems to think that the android will continue being exactly like him. Why would that be, if it has its own ego?

    When you ask the utterly basic question of, what’s the point of making a perfect replica of the human body with technology if your consciousness won’t continue (only the “persona” will) he basically says, why not?

    What good is your persona without an ego? What good is making a speaker that says stuff you would say to leave behind after you die? What’s so important in your head that your old ideas from your old dead body are more important than the ideas happening in living people?

    And if the idea is to create an android just like oneself, but which will develop in its own way because it has its own ego, aren’t you basically asking to be God? To create a living thing in your image? Isn’t that insanely selfish – to aim in your creation of an android not toward perfection or practicality but towards oneself?

    I get that Aneel feels he’s on a mission to do this android thing, but if it’s not going to be your consciousness in the future, you’re basically saying, “I’m so important that my knowledge/mindset shouldn’t die, it should help in the future.” But why is the android more helpful than a human? Why not spend the time you would spend developing the android on developing your children or your community? Aren’t they the future? Aren’t they the consciousnesses you’re trying to benefit with your android self? What use will these people have with a dead guy’s persona with an android ego?

    It seems obvious that Aneel wants his ego to continue past death, though he doesn’t seem to want to admit that’s how he feels. His ego seems to think itself so important that it must be around in the future, that without it, mankind will be handicapped in some way. It seems like more of the same fear of death, fear of existence going on without oneself.

    But I also found you/Jasun (I never know what person to write these in) a little defensively overemphasizing the body over the mind. First with the lifting the glasses of water, which was a interesting thought experiment, but I felt the conclusion seemed to leave out that without the mind desiring to know which weighs more, the information that the arms gets about the weights is irrelevant. If you want to know which is heavier in the first place, you must know what heavier is – though perhaps a person could want to know which is heavier even without the conscious knowledge of what heaviness is, they wouldn’t be the person in the thought experiment, I don’t think.

    Then I think you went right off the edge when you said that perhaps the mind is just making post-hoc justifications for the body’s actions, because then the question becomes more about free will (though I did expect this line of conversation to come up). If your body is just reacting to your environment, and your brain is just justifying its every experience, who’s to say the body’s doing anything? It might then be the influence of your environment and genetics which force your body to react (which causes your brain to then justify it as if it was your reaction). Basically you can’t help but do what you’re caused to do by the causal universe. I’m not a determinist, and I don’t think you’d say you are one, so writing off the brain as a post-hoc justifier seems in my opinion to be indefensible unless one’s willing to say their every action is (or could be) just the playing out of a cosmic equation.

    I think the problem you got into, perhaps only because you felt (consciously or otherwise) you had to argue for the body over the mind, since the transhumanists at least traditionally argue for mind over body, was thinking of the mind and body as separate at all. The mind is one element of the body – it can’t be removed any more than the digestive system (and gut flora for that matter) can be removed without a major effect on the consciousness (and on one’s thoughts or inner monologue). Trying to figure out if the brain is controlling the body, or the brain is just reacting to what the body and senses tell it, or the brain is largely irrelevant and the body is controlling the brain, seems nonsensical to me. The brain and body as one whole thing get the information necessary, consider the information, and make the decision. It’s all one process coming from one living thing.

    I did find the podcast interesting though, it was compelling even while it was frustrating. So much so I felt I had to comment. I’ll be listening to part 2 soon.

  4. Posted August 3, 2017 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    If anyone reading this has not yet listened to Part I, please listen to Part II FIRST. So far there is only one comment on Part II, but it says that that segment is their favorite Liminalist podcast to date. In this first part, we got bogged down deconstructing “you,” your “mind,” your “consciousness” and your “ego.” The ego is a fictional construction invented by Freud to help us get a handle on who we are so I had to proceed slowly when theorizing about a figment of someone’s imagination and no one could be more frustrated than me when listening to it.
    I start off by stating that your ego dies each night when you go to sleep. Jasun is quick to point out that if you wake up it is resurrected. This won’t always happen, and the day that it doesn’t your ego stays dead. Death is the end of “you,” which includes the ego inside of you, so that’s the permanent end of it, unless you go to heaven or reincarnate and that’s nobody’s business but your own.
    Of the terms being thrown around: “ego,” “consciousness,” “mind,” “persona” and “you,” only the persona can be observed. If I “wake up” in an android body claiming that I have transferred my consciousness into the new body, the only way you can determine the truth of this is by testing my persona. The science I rely upon to make this statement deals with that persona passing a Turing test, as Jasun mentioned. To ask about whether my ego has transferred, whether the android has and ego, etc., simply cannot be tested. Many claiming enlightenment say that they no longer have an ego which I take to mean that they have no internal monologue, so in that regime we are talking about things that some enlightened individuals with states of consciousness purportedly much higher than yours or mine deny that they even have. But everyone has an observable persona, be it human or android.
    A number of questions then follow which I believe are resolved in Part II, wherein I explain my mission which is to deliver a starship to the stars in the galaxy and right now I am hoping to assemble a team to do it. It would be most efficient if the team members just transferred their consciousness into androids so that when they die a suitable replacement in a transistorized body can show up for work the next day. I feel that projections are being made upon my ego and Jasun even calls me a megalomaniac in Part II when in reality I’m only concerned with getting the job done for those that put us here in the most efficient manner. In this mission I seek alignment with what I imagine to be their will, as a matter of common sense, and by working that job I hope to live out the remainder of my days in a fun and exciting work environment.

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