Bad times versus bad memories

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Assume we have the technology to implant totally credible artificial memories, like in Total Recall. Which of the following two options would you choose, in relation to next year (2015, at the time of going to press). Bear in mind as well that your memory of having made the choice will be erased, so whichever memories you’re left with, you’ll believe to be genuine.

1. You spend the year in an amazing place, doing fulfilling and enjoyable work, meeting great people, eating well, etc. But on your return home at the end of the year, your memories are overwritten with those of a terrible year, doing boring and unsatisfying work, meeting nasty people, eating crap food, etc.

2. You get the afore-described terrible year in reality, but afterwards, you get the artificial memories of the afore-described amazing year.

 
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I would take number 2 only because that’s how I would remember it as. Who wants a bad memory? :p

 
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Choice number 1, every time.

Why? Well, during that year, I would as you say meet many peers and have a fantastically productive year. I would be able to publish several times, and make real inroads on the practical side of my field, changing many lives for the better.

That I would not remember it does not matter to me; I would still have done it. The evidence would be in published form, and in those with new arms, new hands and new feet where they had stumps before.

Certainly I would be bitter about losing the memories of the work I had done, and the peers I had met, as well as the patients and their families I would have met and worked with during that year. But that doesn’t detract from the fact I’d made an impressive difference during that year, whether I remembered it or not.

Assume we have the technology to implant totally credible artificial memories, like in Total Recall.

Not too big a leap, considering how far we have progressed in memory implantation. We’re a long way from doing the same with humans, considering a deep brain (optogenetic) prosthetic was involved and all, but your OP is not implausible. We’re a few decades away from being able to do what you propose for real; but not much longer than that.

Sobering, isn’t it? :)

 
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None. I won’t let anyone manipulate my mind.

 
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@ champion17, spoken like a true bucket-lister.

@ yeasy, but what if you had to choose?

@ vikaTae (fellow Singularitarian), you’ve loaded a lot into the objective ramifications of the year’s work, but I’m really interested in the subjective side. What if the work was different from your day job and essentially irrelevant?

In relation to tampering with memories, as per many other avenues (e.g. full brain emulation), I shall keenly observe the progress that’s made.

It occurs to me, going back to the OP, that an important detail is whether the memory of making the choice is wiped before or after the year of activity. Hmm…

 
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Originally posted by Cocklecarrot:

@ vikaTae (fellow Singularitarian)

Yay! (of course, that’ll piss some regulars off; one of me was enough for them – welcome aboard :) )

You’ve loaded a lot into the objective ramifications of the year’s work, but I’m really interested in the subjective side. What if the work was different from your day job and essentially irrelevant?

Then it would effectively be the year from hell for me. I tend to get depressed if I don’t feel I’m doing anything. So the good year would need to be for me, stimulating and rewarding towards my goals (elimination of physical disability as something that matters, flexibility in personal embodiment) or it would not be remotely a good year for me.

I wouldn’t mind working on a different tangent. For example, my professional work revolves around arms and hands at the moment, since a company specialising in smart prosthetics for them pays my salary. Howver, for the MSc I fancied something different and tackled an intelligent, biometric-responsive network-coupled sexual aid for couples who find the normal physical act to be impossible for them.

It feeds the same goals, but is a clean break from my normal speciality field. Such a clean break I would consider rewarding, but if the work isn’t challenging, and doesn’t make me feel like I’m making progress improving lives, it won’t be good for me. (Subjective viewpoint.)

In relation to tampering with memories, as per many other avenues (e.g. full brain emulation), I shall keenly observe the progress that’s made.

I presume then, that you’re tracking progress made at EPFL? Fun stuff going on there.

It occurs to me, going back to the OP, that an important detail is whether the memory of making the choice is wiped before or after the year of activity. Hmm…

It would have to be before, as otherwise choosing a year of hell, would lead some to a cycle of self-doubt and depression. I have my doubts whether the related chemical changes would abate with the removal of the memories. It was a long-term adjustment into a spiral of depression, and logically would take a long time to recover even with better memories implanted.

Ethically for that reason, I would suggest removing the memory of the choice almost immediately after the choice is made, with the added bonus that the brain won’t have time to form associative memories that could persist after the removal if you wait a year.

 
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Let the age of transhumanism begin! :-)

I’m only loosely following the various developments, I must confess.

You make a good point about the consequences of a bad (or good) year. Things like changes in chemical states, malnourishment, and self-harm would be left over, so I suppose the OP question could be modified to state that certain extremes won’t be reached, or that if they are, they’ll be corrected afterwards during a short period of readjustment.

 
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Originally posted by Cocklecarrot:

@ yeasy, but what if you had to choose?

There is always option to not choose.

 
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Cockle, one thing comes to mind that would be very interesting in such a study.

You’re implanting memories artificially, en-masse. I was assuming you were simply co-opting the brain’s own memory recording methods. But if you’re doing a mass recording like that, I’m not so sure you are. It’s a little like the optogenetic method I linked to with the mice. Rather than chemically signalling that a memory is to be written, and directing the pattern to be laid down, you are actually creating the engram circuits in-situ.

The optogenetic neuroprosthetic in that paper did that; implanted in the brain of the first generation of mice, it recorded the engram circuits in a brain made responsive to light as a light pattern. In the brains of the second generation after being removed from the first, it played that patttern back also in a brain made responsive to light, setting up new memories without engaging the brain’s own memory management systems.

Bearing all that in mind, is there not a good chance that you’ve also bypassed the brain’s memory association system? Creating in other words a set of memories that cannot be accessed in any way other than directly? Or at least by no method other than association by memories you recall after the implantation procedure? They don’t map logically by the right associations, because they’re not truly integrated into the relationship database.

It’s something that’ll have to be done experimentally, but it’s a really interesting thought. Disassociative memories by implantation could if the data supports the concept, be a way to test objectively whether a memory was implanted or not.

Not meaning to derail your thread; the idea came to me whilst rereading your posts. Just thinking out loud.

 
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Originally posted by Cocklecarrot:

Assume we have the technology to implant totally credible artificial memories, like in Total Recall. Which of the following two options would you choose, in relation to next year (2015, at the time of going to press). Bear in mind as well that your memory of having made the choice will be erased, so whichever memories you’re left with, you’ll believe to be genuine.

1. You spend the year in an amazing place, doing fulfilling and enjoyable work, meeting great people, eating well, etc. But on your return home at the end of the year, your memories are overwritten with those of a terrible year, doing boring and unsatisfying work, meeting nasty people, eating crap food, etc.

2. You get the afore-described terrible year in reality, but afterwards, you get the artificial memories of the afore-described amazing year.

Ya really ought to clean all of that up a bit.
It is somewhat confusing & contradictory.
I’m hearing:
1st year is an IMPLANTED memory (of a good year).
it is then “overwritten”…..what does that mean?
Are we talking about yr. one being erased?

If an “afore-described terrible year” is REALITY, how can it be an ARTIFICIAL memory?
Do you mean that for all intents, the artificial memory is so good that it is taken to be “reality”?

I’m assuming that whichever year is the second one will be the only one remembered?

In that case, why would anyone want to end up w/ shitty memories?
Something you left out is what vika brings up as the REMINDERS of that first year which will “linger” in the forms of what was left behind in the real world.

Or, are you saying that the body during this false memory won’t be real time?
That it will be only a few minutes (of “download” time) and viola…you now have “memories”?
Which is it?

This sounds somewhat like: good news—bad news; which do you want first?. Take your pick of the links.

Overview (click on the link for a better read. I don’t know why it copied this way)
Giving bad news can be anxiety-provoking. When faced with a bad news delivery situation,
people may use prosodic techniques such as mixing good news with the bad. In these events,
people may ask, “Do you want the good or the bad news first?” In this study we examined
whether news order has affective, cognitive, and behavioral consequences. Participants
completed a personality test and received fake results in either a ‘good then bad,’ ‘bad then
good,’ or ‘bad only’ order. Participants completed questionnaires about how they felt about
their results and chose whether to watch a personality improvement video. Results revealed
that news order has consequences. People who received good news last reported better mood
and appraisal of the results. Additionally, people who received bad news last reported greater
intentions for behavioral change and were more likely to watch the improvement video. Our
findings suggest that there is no correct approach to delivering news and that instead newsgivers
should consider the optimal outcomes for the recipient. To buffer negative affect they
should relay good news last, but if the goal is behavior change then ending with bad news may
be best. Our findings have important implications for the bad news delivery process and its
consequences between news-givers and recipients.

Something else you failed to make clear: do we have any idea at all, beyond just great & terrible, what the options are going to be like? Buying a pig-N-the-poke is a little stupid. I don’t mind that I would remember only the last choice, I just want to know what it will be in a lot of realistic possibilities. Hell, if it is going to be implanted memories, I’m taking it that “they” already know what they are going to be. They damn well best let me know an decent overview; or, NO DEAL.

I’m quite fine w/ my flip-flopping (almost daily) from terrific to terrible events in my life based on the “reality factor”.

Have you given any thought to what happens beyond the implanted memories?
Say, after a year of bliss….then your shitty, mundane (by comparison) life unfolds.
THAT would seem like the beginning of the horrible year.

 
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Most interesting, vikaTae, especially the part about the test of implantedness.

KarmaKK, you either live a good year and then remember a bad one, or you live a bad year and then remember a good one.

 
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Then, where is the question on this choice?
Only a masochist would want to remember a horribly bad experience.
If so, I’m very willing to help…I’ll steal his car.

 
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Would it not also be masochistic to choose a year of misery?

 
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Originally posted by Cocklecarrot:

Would it not also be masochistic to choose a year of misery?

If that was the only “reward” that was different than typical.
Remember, your premise is that each year would be superlative.
Therefore, it becomes a trade off.
Opting for the LAST year to be the good one; AND, it is the ONLY one remembered renders the bad one as an easily endured payment because of the ultimate payoff of a lasting great memory.

My point about that POSSIBLY being somewhat masochistic is that, by comparison to a more typical life, one might have strong regrets for ever have seen the city lights (hard to keep the boys on the farm after they see gay paree). For some ppl, opting out of your game entirely might be the best for them.

Your conundrum would fit nicely as a Twilight Zone episode.

 
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An interesting consequence of your line of thought is the idea that it would be morally permissible to force people to endure slave labour (or some other suffering) on the condition that their memories be altered afterwards.

 
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This is where the masochistic angle comes in…via perception of the implied conditions of the choices.

One man’s steak is another’s hamburger. For me to partake in the “game”, I’d greatly need to know, in words that I would use to describe the conditions w/in the options so that I would know, in a high percentile, exactly what was involved. As I said, I’m not willing to buy a pig in a poke.
Fools do this and often the result is that they are some weird entertainment for the guy w/ the pig wearing lipstick.

Not all masochists are fools;
pretty much so, all fools are by default somewhat masochistic.

Fools usually don’t need to be “forced”. They merely need to have a good politician spouting delicious rhetoric telling them how much s/he loves them in order to get their vote so s/he can go to the Capitol in order to fuck them over.

So, a year of have golden dreams spread out before the populace;
then, 4 years of utter torture.

 
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Option 1.

It doesn’t matter what I remember, what matters is what I do.

 
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It’s an appealing answer. A lot of people seem to think that deathbed satisfaction is paramount (cf. bucket lists) when on the contrary, one’s status on one’s deathbed is perhaps irrelevant.

But is “living for the moment” animistic and sub-intellectual? And if so, is that shameful for Homo sapiens?

 
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Originally posted by Cocklecarrot:

It’s an appealing answer. A lot of people seem to think that deathbed satisfaction is paramount (cf. bucket lists) when on the contrary, one’s status on one’s deathbed is perhaps irrelevant.

But is “living for the moment” animistic and sub-intellectual? And if so, is that shameful for Homo sapiens?

How about living the truth?

 
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Originally posted by Cocklecarrot:

It’s an appealing answer. A lot of people seem to think that deathbed satisfaction is paramount (cf. bucket lists) when on the contrary, one’s status on one’s deathbed is perhaps irrelevant.

That makes me wonder if there is not a market there, when the tech has matured. Giving those with poor lifelong memories an alternative. Disconnect and re-route their entire long-term memory to an artificial source so on their deathbed, they don’t remember their own life, but one manufactured to make them feel satisfied about their life.

Have you ever seen the serious Robin Williams film, The Final Cut? That uses a neuroprosthetic implanted in the patient’s brain to record their sensory information over their entire life, used to make a video record autobiography of their life’s highlights once it is cut down by a specialist, into a 90 minute film to play at their funeral.

This would use the same idea, but instead of playing their own life at the funeral, it would play someone else’s life into their own head in the days before they die, simply so they can die satisfied, if their own life left them with nothing but regrets.

It would be very interesting to see how many people out of the ‘bucket list’ crowd would be willing to try that.

But is “living for the moment” animistic and sub-intellectual? And if so, is that shameful for Homo sapiens?

I don’t think so. Remember whilst we are all one species, we are not all the same. Not everyone values intellectualism, and a good majority don’t. If anything, we are the outliers; the ones with significant intellect well above the norm.

On top of that, and less elitist-sounding, for many, the moment is all they have. They haven’t the resources to build empires, and direct long-term efforts. They’re living hand-to-mouth, on the lower end of financial means and the brain is plastic; it adapts to adopt the mindset necessary for survival if it can. Grand dreams are forgotten or pushed aside, and living in the moment is what dominates. Just enjoying life as it comes.

 
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Sometimes, “living it up” is good and is a lot of fun.
But, it often means that you then have to “live it down”.
Living for the moment tends to forget that those chickens can come home to roost at a later moment.

Another way of putting the moment: A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.
Sin in haste; repent for a long time.

 
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I hadn’t heard of that film. I imagine the bucket listers would reject the possibility because it would be fake, which leads into whole truth/historicity question. I myself hold truth in high regard, but I accept that this isn’t necessarily the best approach in an evolutionary sense, certainly not in relation to “spiritual” things; you need to know what’s true in the physical world, but in relation to beliefs, it’s more complicated.

And yes, living for the moment can burn you out and leave you in tatters by your deathbed. (Funny how there’s one song that says “I hope I die before I get old” and another that says “I hope I’m old before I die”.)

 
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Originally posted by Cocklecarrot:

I hadn’t heard of that film.

I would still recommend it. Not a good film from a storytelling POV, but it’s one of those that examines the wider issues surrounding neuroprosthetics, even if the limited use of them in the film is highly unrealistic. (Only one neuroprosthetic exists; the neural reader that is the centerpoint of the film.) Social reactions, individual reactions, ‘defenses’ against them, et al. The main defense is even theoretically possible.

I imagine the bucket listers would reject the possibility because it would be fake.

I’m not so sure. It depends really on how bad your life was. If the connection to the hippocampus is itself severed, the person’s original memories would be completely unavailable whilst the prosthetic was plugged in, and all associations the individual had access to would be those from the implant. In other words, like your OPs scenario, there would be no subjective way to tell the memories were fake once the originals were disconnected via the hippocampus.

Certainly many would reject the idea of losing their own memories in their final hours, but going with my intuition from some more erm, unlucky individuals I’ve met, I strongly suspect there would still be enough willing parties to make it viable.

For everyone else, there is still subjective replacement. Implantation of memories the original Total Recall style in order to complete bucket lists they could not do, or were too scared to do. More could not do than were scared to do I would suspect. In this local country, Health and Safety laws are rampant, and frequently prevent individuals from even attempting potentially dangerous tasks, especially if their body is malfunctioning at the time. Implanting the memory of having done it would be a poor substitute for actually doing it, but for many it might at least be a substitute.

And yes, living for the moment can burn you out and leave you in tatters by your deathbed.

Perhaps ironically, so can always planning ahead. If you don’t leave enough time for the here and now, it puts serious strain on relationships, and can also lead to a lot of regrets. I’m familiar with that problem perhaps too well.

 
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Being able to ignore the primitive instincts driving you to short-term pleasure and consider long-term intellectualism etc. is the line that separates human from animal.

Or rather(since I can’t say that 99% of the world is animals) there are two tiers of human, and one tier is better than the other; you get into it by learning to ignore short-term wants in favor of long-term gains.

 
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(since I can’t say that 99% of the world is animals)

True you can’t. A hefty portion are plants :P

I wouldn’t even really say one type of mind is ‘better’ than the other. I’m eligable for Mensa membership, but I’ve chosen not to join. There is a really uncomfortable thick air of arrogance when you get too many high-intellect individuals in the same room together, when the only real commonality between them is that intellect itself. I find it becomes very bad for your thought process, as you tend towards internalising that attitude yourself.

We’re all still animals, regardless of our intellects. It’s only if we can cut that mind free of our animal natures that we’ll be able to say we’re not animals. Doing that will change those minds quite considerably in the process.