RE: Sincere Questions on Identity

From: Colin Hales (
Date: Thu Dec 13 2001 - 00:08:49 MST

Dickey, Michael F wrote

< massive snip>
>Given the though experiment outlined ".... If we copied your neural
>and created a duplicate of it, while still keeping you intact, and woke you
>both up, what would happen? If we took your copy into another room, would
>you be experiencing subjectively what your copy was? I doubt it.
>the copies 'waking up' and continuity of consciousness is different and
>isolated from yours." what would be a good argument discrediting the
>validity of this thought experiment.
>Concerned about my well being...

In copying you are disconnecting a sentience from it's I/O
(sensors/actuators), keeping all its memories, copying it, and then
reconnecting the copy to it's own set of I/O, in a different physical
location. From that instant you have two sentiences on divergent life-paths.
Of course they are not the same. For in-depth analysis of this phenomenon
consult that prodigious journal of wisdom - Red Dwarf, where Rimmer and a
copy of himself gradually diverge from total sameness to completely
different to enemies. All in a half hour show.

I asked the list a long time ago if anyone had ever 'graded' sentience. I
never got any reply but I grow more concerned that we may need a system of
licences to control the creation of sentience beyond a certain level. A true
sentience, that knows that it knows that it knows - replete with experiences
and values and relationships - should not be allowed to be
copied/killed/mutated willy nilly. The life of the sporadic holo-doctor on
Star Trek Voyager is still a life - can you imagine the series without

There is a book - SciFi - Robin Cook...can't remember the name?? where
humans live multiple serial lives in different bodies. When they've burned
out a body they go into a machine. It makes a carbon mesh copy of the brain,
they gestate a new body, and grow the new brain with the pattern of the
original. Voila....immortality. Or is it? The only thing you can say for
sure is that the original human went into the machine quite by choice, happy
in the knowledge that something good was going to happen. A dead body came
out. The rights of the potential sentience in the new body were not
addressed in any serious fashion. Nor were the rights of the 'potential
continued sentience' of the old body.

Whilst in the machine the sentience could still be 'related to' verbally,
although what they replace all the sensory and organ I/O with beats me. It'd
be a weird experience. Imagine all those hormone secretion synapses in the
pretend neuron mesh trying to 'squirt' non-existent hormones into ...what?
I digress.

I think you get my drift.


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