Sincere Questions on Identity

From: Smigrodzki, Rafal (SmigrodzkiR@MSX.UPMC.EDU)
Date: Fri Dec 14 2001 - 08:44:01 MST

From: "Jacques Du Pasquier" <>

Smigrodzki, Rafal wrote (13.12.2001/18:35) :
> Such attitude maximizes the
> chances that entities indistinguishable on the software level from my
> current self will exist in the future, which is exactly the objective of
> survival instinct.


The desire that evolution has built into our brain is for procreation
(and survival only as far as it favors procreation).

### I do have a desire for procreation, quite independently from a desire to
live, and vice versa - I do wish to survive even if it meant no procreation
(well, there other pleasant ways of spending my time...).

While I would agree that in lower animals all or almost all drives and
desires can be related to the task of passing their genes on to the next
generation, I would say that for us humans the situation is different - we,
especially extropians dreaming about radical physical and mental
enhancements, are not slaves of our genes anymore. Our thoughts and desires
have long since transcended the boundaries of genetic determinism, sometimes
resulting in losses (as in people joining monasteries) but at other times
promising great individual benefits. This applies especially to us - many of
us would be willing to discard or greatly change our genes, if needed for
individual survival. I am an information processing device, fully devoted to
the task of continuing my existence (and the existence of sufficiently
similar copies), while respecting the rights of other information processors
to keep doing what they want.

 So the quest for
individual immortality is in contradiction with the way nature has
made us, it is a rejection by the individual of the plans that
nature has for him (being a temporary support for a stream of life).

### Exactly! And I say: Down with nature! Long live me! Don't ask what you
can do for your genes, ask what they can do for you!


The "copy" conception of survival (that you hold) seems closer to the
original "gene" conception of survival (in fact, genes only survive as
copies), while the "continuity" conception seems to follow more naturally
from the specific desire of individual immortality.

### You do have a point here - there is a similarity between my self-concept
and the way genes work. We care about our copies. If my self-concept works
as good as the genetic paradigm, I would have reasons to be very optimistic
about my future.

The continuity concept, however, is in my opinion quite similar
(functionally) to the survival concept a stone might have. A stone doesn't
wish to copy itself. It cares only about itself. It resists blows and heat
but eventually its individual existence will end. When the Sun becomes a red
giant, even the oldest stones of old will be melted and will "die", while
some of the distant and vastly improved copies of the first genes might
escape (if we take them with us).


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