Re: Can I kill the "original"?

From: John Clark (
Date: Mon May 15 2000 - 08:22:35 MDT

Harvey Newstrom <> Wrote:

> Having two people think the same thing is different then having one person
> perceive the thoughts of the other person.

Yes, and I can't perceive the thoughts of my copy because there is no other
person, there is just me.

>If they thought different things, would one copy perceive the thought from
>the other through telepathy?

If they thought different things then there must be some difference in their brains so
they are no longer copies of each other, they're just twins, or perhaps just brothers.

> The very fact that they diverge seems to indicate that one consciousness is
> not controlling both.

Why? They diverged because something external happened to one and not the other.

>They fact that they were synchronized to appear identical for an
>instant does not mean that they were one consciousness in two bodies.

Why not?

>>All the proposed mechanisms (except one) that attempt to identify the
>>cause of this huge change, like something special about my atoms or
>>something special about my position have been shown to be invalid,
>>"the original" and "the copy" are not well defined concepts nor can they
>>be used as distinct categories without inconsistencies,
>>and the vague psycho-babble explanations for all this are so bad they're
>>not even wrong.

> I don't know what change you are referencing here. What changed?
>From what to what?

I don't think anything changed but you think a change of cosmic proportions
has happened, something has changed you into something not you. If true
then this force or law or whatever you want to call it is the most important
thing in the universe. Every variable in it should be examined to try to figure
out how this thing works.

EXACTLY what force (or what something) caused this profound change?
Why can't science detect it? Does this same mystical force of yours operate
in the real world, even if at a lesser intensity than in my thought experiment?
How many atoms in your body can I change before this force kicks in and you're
no longer the original ? How fast can I change them? How can atoms give us
individuality when they have no individuality themselves? EXACTLY how strong
does this force have to be until you are no longer you and just become something
that looks and acts and thinks and feels like you? Why isn't that enough for it to
be you? Is identity or survival really a all or nothing thing? One last question,
is there one particle of evidence that this amazing force even exists?

>I don't claim that the copies can tell which is the "original" and which is the "copy".

I agree. You could be a copy right now yet you would still feel the same way, you still
feel a sense of continuity. A copy of a copy could be made and still nothing important
would change. If I made a billion copies a second and destroyed a billion copies a
second from the day you were born there would be no change in the subjective
feelings you experience at this very instant because as you say, you can't tell if
you're a copy or the original, in fact the entire concept of "the original" is meaningless
in this case. You would say that many trillions of Harvey Newstroms have died
tragically, but you're still conscious, you still have emotions, you still have memories
and you still have a feeling of continuity. For the life of me I don't understand what
has been lost.

>I claim that each copy can tell which is "their" body or consciousness
>and which is the "other" body and consciousness.


>Your claim that the copy and the original are "one" is semi-mystical and
>semi-unscientific. It implies thought communication between disconnected
>brains with no scientific rationale.

I have a red tomato in my right hand and a red apple in my left hand, but I
don't think the tomato is communicating with the apple telling it how to be red.

>In summary, even if your carefully controlled example were possible, it is
>so temporary, so useless for uploading, and so far removed from probable
>upload scenarios, that I view this as a mental exercise only.

I grant you that some of my thought experiments are a little far out but that's
what you do when you test theories, you push them to extremes to see if they'll
crack. Yours does.

            John K Clark

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