Hal Finney (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mon, 31 Aug 1998 11:35:55 -0700
Joe Jenkins asks:
> Where do others stand on this list? So far, it seems I'm the only one
> on the list with this idea of identity. If I'm the only one on this
> list, I'm probably the only one in the world. What a lonely and cold
> feeling it is to be the sole resident of this memetic fitness bump.
> What are you guys selecting for anyway? Anyone want to party at my
Personally I think Joe's treatment is pretty reasonable. In a world
in which making temporary copies was easy, I suspect that I could get
comfortable with pushing the self-terminate button if I knew that a very
recent copy was continuing on. Similarly I could face my own death with
considerably more ease if I knew that I had a recent backup.
As Joe has written, there are a few reasons for this:
- It allows me to take advantage of copying technology in a manner which
would not be practical if all copies were permanent. The latter would
raise difficult problems of resource distribution, etc.
- Over a long period of time, I will do this many times, and I basically
would expect to get used to it. The loss of information each time
would not seem too bad based on my many experiences with the process.
- Every night when I fall asleep I face the same problem: my current
thoughts will be lost due to hypnagogic amnesia. As I relinquish my
consciousness, the "me" which is drowsily thinking will be destroyed
forever. When I awaken in the morning my last memories will be
of thoughts which preceded those which I had just before sleep.
But I've gotten used to it.
- A technological trick could help: all copies are treated identically,
and at the end of the temporary split we all push the self-terminate
button, with only one copy, randomly selected, allowed to continue.
This way I am able to practice pushing the button and becoming inured
to it over time.
- If many-worlds is true then when I push the self-terminate button it
won't seem to work, my consciousness will continue on in some universe.
Much the same thing is true if a merciful God exists. This may give
me solace even when I know that this instance of me is about to be