The physical substance of a computer can deteriorate and eventually stop functioning, but the immaterial program & its state can be transferred to another computer. Its conciousness is effectively continuous with its prior existence,

Does this mean if a concious computer is possible then it can reincarnate itself?

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    Theoretically, reincarnation should be possible for a human too, presuming you subscribe to physicalism/monism...
    – stoicfury
    Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 4:29
  • Sure. But the two situations are opposites of each other. Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 4:43
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    @MoziburUllah: In what way are they opposites? In any event, it seems to me that if you are defining consciousness in such a way as to permit a conscious computer, then the ability to transfer to another device seems to come along with the package. In other words: why wouldn't a conscious computer not be capable of such "reincarnation"? Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 6:43
  • @Dorfman: We can transfer computer programs from one machine to another now, but we don't have a concious computer; whereas a human being is concious, but we can't transfer that conciousness to another human being in practise. True enough, its reincarnation in a strong sense as they conciousness is continous, they still have their memories etc. They are in effect immortal (excluding accidents). The real point of the question is to understand what if any differences there could be in the conciousness of a human being and a computer. Is the conciousness of mortality an important part of being Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 6:57
  • human? If a computer is immortal then doesn't that make its conciousness different in a real way from human beings. But of course now I realise that it in fact doesn't, they are merely long-lived. They must die when the universe ends (barring accidents). Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 6:59

3 Answers 3


What is a "conscious computer" ?

Consciousness is not a black and white line dividing entities in universe. This property can have varying levels. It emerges from a grade of potent design, which leads to intelligent behavior. The simplest feedback circuit can be regarded as close to the lowest level ( like simple micro-organisms). Much complex designs will achieve chaotic states and can be observed to be capable of near unpredictable, independent and intelligent looking behavior (like animals, humans).

As already stated in comments, self Replication is a possibility that comes along with the design. But it is not entirely possible on its own. For example:

Today's average computer can very well control a fully automated manufacturing facility to create its replicas, programmed to behave exactly same.

A more potently designed machine won't need a provided manufacturing facility, it will build it on its own from provided raw materials.

The next level will search for raw materials itself, provided how to identify them.

And so on.

But no matter how advanced the design be, there will always be something that has to be there already, or provided externally. Hence, conscious or not, designs can replicate, but still, no design is all-powerful, and no design is guaranteed to re-create itself exactly the same existence. for the "External element (pre-provided seed)" will always be unknown.


Not competent enough to reply, but check Bruno Marchal's publications on the subjects machine psychology and self-consistent self-referential machine. All of them are implications of the Church-Turing thesis.


As for my view... A machine with advanced AI can reincarnate 100%. In the future it's going to be possible for a human being to transfer its memory and logic paths of (logics of processing the relational data which I would term as cognisance ) to another human being. It could happen as an evolutionary process or through some hard core scientific methods. But the second person's behavioural pattern to the acquired data will vary on numerous bodily (physical) factors, be it genetic, hormonal etc.. A self-learning advanced robot can become a mechanical human being but the real big challenge would be to program him emotionally equal to human.

  • @iphigenie, thanks for correcting me grammatically. Proper and effective communication has been a big problem for me as I am just average in English. Here in my answer for logic paths I meant, the processing method of stored information from our memory. As every single data in memory is connected to in-numerous others on the basis of certain logic which enables it to process or react or communicate to outside world. In IT jargon we term it as relational database but here the relations are much wider and much complex.
    – Aneosh
    Commented Nov 22, 2012 at 7:58

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