Re: Can I kill the original?

From: Harvey Newstrom (
Date: Tue May 09 2000 - 17:52:13 MDT

"Ken Clements" <> writes:
> > Maybe I'm just being selfish, but I can't experience the life of that
> > consciousness stream. If I live, we will diverge. If I die, I still
> > live that other life. I don't want that other consciousness stream to
> > over. I prefer to find a way for this consciousness stream to continue.

> Harvey, perhaps you could explain to me what this "consciousness stream"

It is consciousness itself. I think, therefore I am. That's my
consciousness stream. As long as I keep having these thoughts, I am alive.

The more complicated question is what makes my consciousness more important
to me than other people's consciousnesses? Most people on this list take a
functional view that personality and memory define our consciousness. They
claim that this is what makes people different and define people. Therefore
if someone else were programmed to think exactly like you and to remember
your memories, that this person could replace you and you would be happy
because this consciousess is exactly like the one it replaced.

I argue that this is not true. What makes my consciousness unique to me is
the direct interface I have in it. I know what my consciousness is
thinking. I control my consciousness and its actions. I have no such
connection with other people's consciousness. Even another person who
thinks exactly as I do and has my exact memories would still be an alien,
disconnected consciousness. Unless it is somehow linked to me so that I can
control it and know what it is thinking, this disconnected copy is not an
acceptable replacement for me.

> But what is it made of? Is it just bits?

No. Bits define memory and program traits to run. These bits can be stored
on paper-tape, which is obviously not conscious. The bits themelves do not
have this trait of growing, self-modifying, interacting with the universe,
or making decisions. Instead of bits, the consciousness would be the CPU
that is executing those bits. The CPU that keeps changing its execution
register is a living consciousness. The CPU that stops running, such that
its register never changes, is a hung processor or a dead consciousness. It
has lost all of its properties of consciousness, even if its physical body,
memory bits and program bits remain intact.

> Meanwhile, back at the Harvey that exists in wet ware, what good does it
do you
> to write this thing

Not sure what thing you are referring to here. (sorry.)

> At this point I expect you will want to trot out the old "I don't know
what it
> is, but if I gradually replace one neuron at a time, I will get there"
> argument. Yes, you will get somewhere, but until something is known about
> this process does in real life, who can say who will be we.

I wasn't going to trot this out, but as you state "I" will get somewhere.
As long as I am still alive somewhere, I don't care how much I have changed.
I hope that I change for the better, but even changing for the worse is not
as bad as no change ever (which I call death).

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

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:10:56 MDT