Thursday, September 6, 2012

Mind swaps

Science fictional scenarios where one person's memories and personality is put into the brain of another, and vice versa, are often described as "mind swaps". But that's a tendentious description. What has been moved over seems more like the states of the minds.

But even the states of the minds do not seem to have been moved over. Suppose I have two knives, one bent and one straight. I straighten the bent knife and then bend the straight knife to be just like the bent knife was. Did I move transfer the state from one knife to another? Not in the literal sense. The bent state of knife A ceased to exist and knife B came to have a state of bentness exactly similar to the one that knife A used to have.


Kevin Wong said...

Dr. Pruss:

It seems like mind swaps are more than just mere memories and personalities, but also consciousness. So there are science fiction scenarios where one is aware of hopping from one body to another via telepathy, transporter accident, brain pattern transfer machine, etc. Should we reduce that awareness to memories or would that be a distinct category that would demonstrate a true mind swap or some other possibility?

Dagmara Lizlovs said...

I had an interesting experience once. I am a goose hunter, and I hunt as often as my work schedule permits. When I hunt geese, I typically hunt with several other hunters out of a grass covered pit. One person who typically is in charge of the pit calls in the birds. When the birds are committed to coming into the decoys, we are given the command by the caller - "get ready". That's when we take the safety off our guns and get crouched ready to spring up. Then the caller will whisper where the birds are such as at 11 O'clock, 3 O'clock, etc. When the birds are where we can shoot them, the next order is "kill 'em, kill 'em, kill 'em." Then we pop up and all chaos breaks out. I had this odd thing happen after this past migratory waterfowl season ended. It was on a Saturday morning and I was at home taking a shower. I suddenly had a strong mental immage of a goose hunt. The caller was calling in the birds, and the moment when the command "kill 'em, kill 'em, kill 'em" was given, I suddenly had an extremely strong impression that I was one of the geese, staring down into this pit full of hunters. That I and the other geese where flaring (hunter term for turning around in mid air) in a nick of time to just barely avoid being shot. Mind swap anyone?