Re: Can I kill the original?

From: Harvey Newstrom (
Date: Sun May 07 2000 - 21:06:04 MDT

"Dan Fabulich" <> killed his former self and then
> Well, the answer is obvious: one consciousness stream might not be aware
> of another similar consciousness stream, but "you" (the collective bounded
> by the predicate "is Harvey Newstrom") are necessarily aware of all of
> "you" simultaneously. You(1) are aware of you(1), you(2) are aware of
> you(2), so some member of you is aware of you(1), and some member of you
> is aware of you(2). So "you" are aware of all of you, even on the
> "adjective" view.

This is where it becomes completely UNobvious to me. You can define the
self anyway you like, but my definition is the self-aware consciousness who
says "I think, therefore I am". Any thoughts being generated which are not
accessible by me are not my thoughts and are not coming from me. Maybe my
desire for an exact copy is so rigid that I refuse to trust even an exact
copy to follow my will. I can't imagine thinking that an external brain
that is thinking thoughts I cannot detect is really me. I can't imagine
thinking that the internal brain that is currently writing these words can
be deleted, because it is no longer me.

> If you can't feel your hand, does that mean the hand isn't part of you?

The hand is not part of my consciousness. It indeed can be deleted without
killing me. It is my consiousness that I do not want deleted.

> > > I take it as axiomatic that our goals, our ends, are what we are
> > > for; that the correct goals/ends are the correct things to strive for.
> > > With that in mind, do we have it as a goal to preserve our current
> > > consciousness stream?
> >
> > I do.
> Ahem. You have it as a goal to preserve your "self," but you have chosen
> to define "self" as consciousness stream. I'm arguing that this was a
> mistake, that you'd be better served with another definition.

No. I do not choose to preserve my self no matter what that self turns out
to be. I choose to preserve my current consciousness stream. I think you
believe that I am trying to preserve my "self" but have a mistaken belief of
what that is. My goal is to continue my current consciousness stream. Even
if evolution, growth or other events define it to no longer be "me", that is
what I choose to preserve. I would even prefer to have my memory wiped and
my consciousness continue rather than delete this consciousness and create a
new one with all my memories. I would like to preserve my memories, but my
definition of life is not based on the past. It is based on the future.

> Yet, I posit, you just might die for your brother given a pretty good
> reason. And he just might die for you. This should be a hint to you to
> probe your intuitions further on this matter: if these desires are coming
> from your primitive imperatives, then, as far as I can tell, the primitive
> imperatives are not only willing to make exceptions for exact copies, but
> also exceptions for someone who shares only your genes. (Or even just
> half your genes, in the case of your children.)

Genetics have little value to me. I think people are too carried away in
trying to preserve their DNA. If I could be uploaded into a robot without
DNA, that would be great. My decision to die for my brother would be based
on life-long familiarity with him. I am familiar with my friends and my
current consciousness stream as well. I would not be as likely to die for a
brother I never knew existed or a clone I had never previously met or a copy
who wanted to replace me.

> Look, it's not like we can perform an experiment to check and see if a
> copy is "really me" or not. This is a matter of definition, it's a matter
> that we have to decide for ourselves on the basis of our other beliefs and
> desires. I take it that the most you can say on this point is that my
> definition doesn't jive with your goals, not that my definition doesn't
> line up with reality.

Right. This is the important new agreement that I have not seen in previous
incarnations of this thread. We each have different goals. We are not all
trying to save the same thing, with technical disagreements on how to go
about it. We each actually value different aspect of living which have
never been divisible before. Now that we can mix and match pieces of life
in different new combinations, we find that different people are choosing
different aspects of "being alive."

Some people would require a perfect memory from their previous body, or they
would consider themselves dead. Some people would require the same body, or
they would consider themselves dead. Some people would require physical
sensations and/or qualia or they would consider themselves dead. Some
people would require a continued consciousness stream.

> But if it doesn't jive with your goals, with which goals does it conflict?
> I've already made the case that it doesn't conflict with your desire for
> "self" preservation, whatever "self" turns out to be. Rather, instead, it
> only seems to conflict with your goal to preserve consciousness streams.
> And as far as I can tell, you adopted that position because you took it
> that this was the only way to preserve your "self". I'm arguing that this
> is not the case, that you can preserve yourself while stunting your own
> conciousness streams.

Again, wrong. I don't like my self. I think it should be better. The body
should be upgraded. The brain should be faster. The thoughts should be
more advanced. The activities should be god-like. This is transhumanism.
I want to evolve so far that I no longer bear much resemblance to my current
self. I have no desire to preserve anything of myself now, just as I don't
miss any features missing from feotus-Harvey who no longer exists. I do
want to extend my current consciousness stream so that I am around to
experience the god-like Harvey. If that stream ends, then I miss out on the

I really do want to preserve my current consciousness stream. I really
don't care about preserving any portions of my "self".

Harvey Newstrom <>
IBM Certified Senior Security Consultant,  Legal Hacker, Engineer, Research
Scientist, Author.

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