Re: longevity vs singularity/Question

Clint O'Dell (
Mon, 16 Aug 1999 15:18:56 MDT

>From: David Blenkinsop <>
>Subject: Re: longevity vs singularity/Question
>Date: Mon, 16 Aug 1999 09:13:30 -0600
>On August 1, 1999, Robert J. Bradbury wrote:
> >
> > > Gina Miller <> wrote:
> >
> > > *Say that there are two "copies" of an original person uploaded. There
> > > two persons with the same uploaded (or downloaded) data, consisting of
> > > originals information, what is the perspective of the consciousness?
> >
> > There is a very interesting discussion of many interesting aspects of
> > conscious self-editing in "Permutation City" by Greg Egan. I think
>there were
> > problems with the premise on which the book was based, but the
>exploration of
> > the various aspects of this technology was very interesting.
> >
>Yes, mind copying has been featured in _Permutation City_ and also in
>Egan's _Diaspora_, now *there's* a fun novel of transhuman adventure,
>and interstellar travel, complete with strange cosmic dangers and
>physics breakthroughs -- and all without ever getting into the standard
>sf "warp drive" scenarios. Actually, mind and/or body copying has long
>been a fairly common idea in sf, maybe all the more so because hardly
>anyone else ever touches it, except maybe the occasional philosopher of
>science. Besides Egan, I think of Poul Anderson, with _Harvest of
>Stars_, and sequels, uploading/copying are featured there, also at least
>one or two of John Varley's stories, also the _Tower to the Sky_/_Fourth
>Intercometary_ series by Philip C. Jennings, etc. Naturally, mind
>copying is of interest to AI researchers, since the mind of an AI
>obviously ought to be copyable, same as any other computer-based
>With the above as "preface", I think what Gina is asking, is, what
>should we expect the personal experience of copying to be, assuming that
>copying is possible, and assuming that it were to happen to oneself? To
>begin with, I'd take it as basic that, if I were copied, the experience
>would amount to a "fork in the road" of my own personal experience, or
>history of perceptions. For instance, if one copy goes space traveling,
>and the other stays on Earth, that amounts to two, basically separate,
>personal timelines in the end, both of which happen to have shared the
>same material body and history, up to the event of being copied. Notice
>that there could potentially be any number of such personal histories
>coming out of any of our life histories, if there's a chance of being
>copied later. The trick, it would seem, is to be able to identify with a
>properly, causally developed "thinking timeline", rather than with any
>special bit of matter in one's body. For those who've read Egan's
>_Permutation City_, notice that he seems to cheat on my requirement of a
>"properly, causally developed" thinking process as a basis for self
>awareness -- oh well, it's all very controversial, I suppose!
>Suppose I were planning in advance to be copied in some high tech
>procedure or other, one copy to go for a vacation on the Moon, the other
>to stay on the Earth. Doesn't this sound as though I should expect a
>50:50 chance of doing one thing or the other, myself, personally? In
>other words, if my specified plan comes about, I could end up
>identifying myself with one of two personal histories, so it's a 50:50
>split as to which I'll be, if I think about it in advance. Similarly, if
>I were planning for three copies, instead of just two, it'd be a
>1/3:1/3:1/3 split, as to the way I should look at the chances of which
>timeline will represent my "self history". This brings up an awkward
>question: suppose I plan to just make two copies of myself, then have
>just *one* of those copies *recopied* shortly after? If I've got a 50:50
>chance of becoming one or the other in the first copy, then how do I get
>anything like a 1/3:1/3:1/3 chance of identifying myself as one of three
>copies in the end? Such a conundrum, some would say that this proves
>that personal copying must be impossible, I'm sure! As it happens, I
>have a slightly different idea of how this might be properly regarded.
>For concreteness, say that of the initial pair of copies, one stays on
>Earth, while the other goes to the Moon. *Then* the copy that goes to
>the Moon is to be recopied once he arrives there, there'll be copy 2a
>and copy 2b, so to speak -- can you guess my actual chances of
>identifying myself as personally arriving on the Moon, vs staying on
>I've said that I can consider my current history up to now as
>potentially representing *any* number of parallel histories, so let's
>put down an *arbitrarily* even number, and say that I could potentially
>"be" any one of a *dozen* histories that have been identical up to some
>initial point in time, the beginning of my scenario, here. Out of 12
>Potentially Different Timelines, or PDT's, if I were copied right now,
>the "fair minded" assumption to make would be to think that 6 PDT's
>would go each way, so I'd expect, as a first guess, that I've got a
>50:50 chance of splitting my history either way, that's clear enough.
>Notice though, that there's no physical process that *guarantees* this
>particular split, so if I take into account what's to happen later,
>perhaps this should modify what I assume in this regard? For instance,
>if the Moon vacationing copy is to be recopied into "me" 2a, and "me"
>2b, *that* almost sounds as if two of my assumed 6 earth based PDT's
>ought to immediately leave, one going to join up with my physical copy
>2a, and one going to join up with copy 2b, so that if 2a and 2b would be
>assumed to have three PDT's initially, they'd then end up with 4 apiece.
>In this PDT redistribution, my Earth based body is left with 4 PDT's, so
>I've got a 4:4:4 split, justifying a three way assumption of equal
>chances of becoming each of my distinct physical "selves" in the end! Oh
>yes, don't forget, "PDT's", that's "Potentially Different Timelines";
>this could also be referred to as "potentially different personal
>viewpoints". Here, we assume some arbitrary number of these potential
>viewpoints at the outset and see where it takes us.
>OK, if you've followed me so far, here's the kicker! I've said, as a
>first assumption, that the recopying of my Moon self seems to imply a
>redistribution of my personal outcomes, with 2 of my 12 assumed PDT's,
>or personal viewpoints, just *leaving* the Earth to join up with my now
>more numerous copies on the Moon. At this point, let's recall though,
>that I've also assumed that it's important that a personal timeline, or
>viewpoint, be developed in a consistent way. Notice, here, that there is
>something really improper about saying that 2 of the historical lines
>could just "leave"
>my Earth-bound history and join up with the lunar ones! You see, *that*
>require that some of the Earth based *experiences* be totally erased
>from my memory, so that some Moon based experiences (the ones between
>the first and second copying event) could be substituted in the case of
>those two particular timelines! Since these two assumed PDT's are now
>seen to be improper, let's now declare them to be completely invalid,
>shall we, so that in the final analysis, we can no longer assume that
>they have any relevance to my chances, or to any outcome that I can
>identify with? Declare the two "redistributed" PDT's to be invalid and
>we are left with 10 of the 12 that I initially assumed, 4 of which stay
>on Earth, as potential viewpoints in my copy #1, while copies #2a, and
>#2b end up with 3 of the 10 "proper" PDT's each. Now, in this example,
>we're down to base 10, very nice, actually a chance of 40%:30%:30% of
>going each of the three ways, in the forecast of two future copy events
>that I've described.
>*Anyhow* the true relevance of possible mind copyings seems bound to be
>controversial to say the least, since there's a mathematical "history
>tracking" aspect to it that almost seems to go beyond anything strictly
>physical! More "Computability of Consciousness" anyone (that was a
>fairly recent subject header, on somewhat related matters)? Is this
>preserving of a properly, causally developed mind "track" for personal
>consideration, as important as I think? Maybe some will say that mind
>copying just doesn't make sense, or is impossible somehow? Some of you
>forward thinking people undoubtedly have some ideas about this,
>meanwhile I'm *serious* about my "recopying by cancelling 2 of 12
>Potentially Different Timeline viewpoints". That is, I *think* I'm
>serious, taking probability recalculations into new realms, this being a
>"modest proposal" and all that :^) Generally, this method of looking at
>personal copying prospects would always start off by assuming enough
>separate "mind timelines" to redistribute among copies as needed, then
>would cancel any redistributed lines that come out inconsistent in their
>causal development of memories . ..
>David Blenkinsop <>

I disagree.
A conscious person is conscious because he is self aware. This self awareness is a pointer in mind pointing to itself. If you made a copy of a person then there would be two persons, two minds. One pointer per mind. Neither would be you unless, of course, you moved your pointer to one of the minds. The pointer cannot point to both minds because it is one pointer in the mind pointing to a section of the mind it can communicate with. Since both minds and bodies of the copied person don't communicate physicly then the pointers of each mind can't point to each other. The pointers themselves are material (hardware not software).

Now that I've defined consciousness lets dive into some deeper issues. Suppose you copy yourself and send it to Mars while you stay home on Earth. After you return, lets say a year later, you want to know your experiences on Mars and Earth. There are a few of things you could do. 1)You could download your copy's memories. You could upload your memories to your copy's as well (Exchanging information). You would still have two separate minds with only one actualy being you though. 2)You could combine your brains. That would allow for continues exchange of information as thoughts and experiences arise. If you go as far as merging the pointers together you would again be one person. But maybe your copy has gone through some experiences that it wouldn't want to give up its new body. Become independent. 3)Then you could develop a technology to allow you to transmit information back and forth between minds simutanously. You wouldn't be one mind physicaly but you would be one mind networkly. (that's not a word but how else could I describe it?).

What is the brains function actualy but to exchange information with other brain functions. Isn't this whole process part of what makes you conscious? By networking you minds, you would be to bodies with one consciousness. The link between minds would become the new pointer. Its higher up in the higharchy and therefore has priority.
With this new software pointer you can link to as many minds as you want.

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