If your brain was slowly replaced neuron by neuron with electronic neurons, would you still be you?

Discuss the November 2022 Philosophy Book of the Month, In It Together: The Beautiful Struggle Uniting Us All by Eckhart Aurelius Hughes.

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Eckhart Aurelius Hughes
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If your brain was slowly replaced neuron by neuron with electronic neurons, would you still be you?

Post by Eckhart Aurelius Hughes »

The following question is a loose paraphrasing of a hypothetical thought experiment described by cognitive neuroscientist, Justin Riddle (PhD) in this video:


If your brain was slowly replaced neuron by neuron with electronic neurons that perform the same function, would you still be you? Would you still exist?

What if that electronic silicone robot brain was then later transplanted into a robot body? Would you still be you? Would you still exist?


Cyborg-Brain.jpg
My entire political philosophy summed up in one tweet.

"The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master."

I believe spiritual freedom (a.k.a. self-discipline) manifests as bravery, confidence, grace, honesty, love, and inner peace.
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Re: If your brain was slowly replaced neuron by neuron with electronic neurons, would you still be you?

Post by Budding Author »

I would say "Yes." Even if my brain was getting replaced by 2 - 3 neurons at a time. I'd still be myself. I've never really changed much apart from my physical appearance (which btw has changed almost every year, drastically)
If my childhood friends come and spend some time with me, they'll say that I'm the same me. I'd kinda proud of it actually. A lot of my friends have changed a lot overtime. I don't personally like it. I've always tried to stay the same no matter what. Whilst still making sure that I'm not missing anything.
Jnapika D
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Re: If your brain was slowly replaced neuron by neuron with electronic neurons, would you still be you?

Post by Jnapika D »

I think if neuron by neuron are replaced, then no, I won't be me because these neurons are responsible for our thoughts and actions, which in turn make us us. But if those neurons are replaced by a robot, that robot will be the same version as the new version of me that's created after the transplantation of the electric neurons.
Bettny Andrade
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Re: If your brain was slowly replaced neuron by neuron with electronic neurons, would you still be you?

Post by Bettny Andrade »

Yes, definitely.

Every cell in our body is renewed, naturally, every certain period of time, including neurons. The human body, as such, is a physical container, compatible for our soul, which in effect is who we really are.
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Juma Florence
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Re: If your brain was slowly replaced neuron by neuron with electronic neurons, would you still be you?

Post by Juma Florence »

If the replacement process maintains my memories, traits, and consciousness,then it could be argued that I would still be myself.
Rob Carr
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Re: If your brain was slowly replaced neuron by neuron with electronic neurons, would you still be you?

Post by Rob Carr »

I think we wouldn't know unless we experienced it but even then it's hard to say.

In one sense this happens naturally all the time and we think nothing of it. I'm not the same "me" as I was five years ago, most of the cells in my body have been replaced since then, because of the experiences I have had I don't think or act the same way.

I think people being digitally copied is probably inevitable. But I doubt we will ever really agree whether the copy is the same person as the individual or not. A smart machine can copy perfectly but becoming different from the original person is inevitable if they have a real consciousness because of their experiences. There is no way to externally verify it properly when being too similar or too differently both indicate failure. Only they can define it for themselves. Even that though may be fraught. How many people feel like imposters in their own lives now? Imagine literally knowing you aren't the real you.

To cut a long story short - we will never know even if we could do it in real life.
Nehap17
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Re: If your brain was slowly replaced neuron by neuron with electronic neurons, would you still be you?

Post by Nehap17 »

Would my memories and experiences also replace exactly? I doubt it.. Those make me who I am today, and I'm afraid it will no longer be the real "me"
Vane Manyenga
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Re: If your brain was slowly replaced neuron by neuron with electronic neurons, would you still be you?

Post by Vane Manyenga »

The concept of identity and consciousness is complex. If your brain were replaced with electronic neurons while maintaining continuity of consciousness, some argue you might still be "you," but the philosophical debate on this topic varies.
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