Re: Can I kill the original?

From: Dan Fabulich (
Date: Thu May 11 2000 - 01:34:22 MDT

Harvey Newstrom reasoned:

> This is exactly my purpose for participating in these discussions.
> Most uploading plans described on this list are destructive. I want
> to make sure that the destructiveness isn't aimed at the parts I'm
> trying to save.


> I've cut out the rest of your post to save space. I agree with you
> in that I might consider destructively copying myself if my death is
> imminent, and cryonic preservation were not possible. I plan to put
> off that decision as long as possible, and find it to be poor
> alternative to not dying in the first place. (Remember that I would
> view my copy as a kind of cloned offspring, and not a continuation
> of myself.)

True. But let's cut through the semantics for a moment. I'm not just
going to allow a copy of me to die for any old reason. Copies are
useful at the least and intrinsically valuable (though not infinitely
so) at the most.

So, as far as I can tell, we actually AGREE on the standard way we
should behave towards copy death: avoid it if you can, but if you
can't, well, it's way better than nothing, and you might even
sacrifice some of your "own" life in order to avoid copies from dying.

You call this preserving your "self" while creating "offspring" which
are, coincidentally, also intrinsically valuable. I call this simply
preserving "self," where I have an extended definition of "self"
relative to your definition.

However, such semantic distinctions are irrelevant; we both agree to
act basically the same way towards destructive uploading, and, I
posit, almost every other "ethical" question about actions and copies
we might choose to take. We'd just choose to call it something


With that being said, we might disagree on what constitutes an "acceptable threshold" beyond which we would or should give our lives to save/create copies. But this question turns more on our ideas of what constitutes "imminent death" than it turns on our definitions of "self."

I happen to think that if destructive uploading became available tomorrow, I'd have no problems jumping on board. I could even make an argument for you to do so, relying heavily on the argument from "imminent death."

You suggest that you might stick with cryo preservation for a while to see how that panned out before you'd sign up for a destructive upload. But I argued in my previous post that NO form of medical immortality will make what you call "you," the very consciousness stream you're having right now, immortal.

Think about the time scale we're talking about here, namely, FOREVER. Eventually, "you're" going to get caught in some extremely improbable accident and die. Backups and uploading won't help the thing you call "you," so every option I can think of for saving "you" has been ruled out. You might make it a million years, maybe even a billion, but unlike your copy set, your life span is measly in comparison to the potential lifespan of your copies.

In my previous post, I used extremely short time scales so as to make the point perfectly clear. But "short" is a matter of perspective. To a being that intends to live an infinite period of subjective time, a billion years is less than a blink of an eye. So as far as I can see, your death is imminent RIGHT NOW, and thus, should some destructive copying method become available, you should not risk the lives of your copies to extend a futilely short existence by cryonic preservation if destructive uploading is available instead. This is like allowing your copy to die (or never be born) just so you can get the extra four minutes. Four minutes isn't very much time. Neither, in the grand scheme of things, is a billion years.

In short, even if you don't abide by my system of definitions, I argue that you should do as I do nonetheless.


-unless you love someone- -nothing else makes any sense- e.e. cummings

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