Re: Can I kill the "original"?

From: Harvey Newstrom (
Date: Mon May 15 2000 - 13:25:55 MDT

"John Clark" <> wrote:

> Harvey Newstrom <> Wrote:
> > Having two people think the same thing is different then having one
> > perceive the thoughts of the other person.
> Yes, and I can't perceive the thoughts of my copy because there is no
> person, there is just me.

Then I think we agree on this point. We agree on the physics of what is
happening. We just disagree on the termonology of "why" it happens. You
claim that they are thinking the same thoughts because they are "one"
person. I claim that they are thinking the same thoughts because the copy's
blank brain just got overwritten with the original's thoughts.

This is an argument over terminology, not a disagreement over what is

My definition of "one" person is: single consciousness not about to diverge
in thinking, in a single location, connected to all parts of itself.

Your definition of "one" person seems to be: any number of consciousnesses
that happen to converge to think identical thoughts at the same time, in
serveral locations, disconnected from various parts of itself.

> >If they thought different things, would one copy perceive the thought
> >the other through telepathy?
> If they thought different things then there must be some difference in
their brains so
> they are no longer copies of each other, they're just twins, or perhaps
just brothers.

This is my point exactly. As soon as there are two bodies with two
different input streams, they will diverge. I agree with you that while the
input streams are synchronized, they are indistinguishable in quality. I do
not think that they are indistinguishable by location. I tend to believe
that things must come together before they merge into one. You seem to
believe that distant bodies can suddenly merge into one consciousness if
they both start thinking the same thoughts.

This is all semantics. It is like arguing whether different movie theatres
are showing the same movie or different copies of the same movie. As long
as the shows are identical, the point may be moot semantics. We pretty much
agree that they are the same movie. If it is possible for them to diverge
and have different endings (for example, one has the main character dying,
while one has the main character living happily ever after), then I would
insist that they were different shows, even if they started off the same.

Does the happy ending of one movie somehow "save" the character from the
other movie? This is a semantic question depending on terminology. We all
agree on what happens in the shows, but we may us different terminology to
characterize it.

> > The very fact that they diverge seems to indicate that one
consciousness is
> > not controlling both.
> Why? They diverged because something external happened to one and not the

I argue that the only way that something can happen to one and not the other
is if they are two separate entities in the first place. If there were only
one entity, it would experience whatever happened to itself. The only way
one could experience something that the other doesn't is if the one and the
other are not the same entity.

> >>Me:
> >>All the proposed mechanisms (except one) that attempt to
identify the
> >>cause of this huge change, like something special about my
atoms or
> >>something special about my position have been shown to be
> >>"the original" and "the copy" are not well defined concepts nor
can they
> >>be used as distinct categories without inconsistencies,
> >>and the vague psycho-babble explanations for all this are so bad
> >>not even wrong.
> > I don't know what change you are referencing here. What changed?
> >From what to what?
> I don't think anything changed but you think a change of cosmic
> has happened, something has changed you into something not you. If true
> then this force or law or whatever you want to call it is the most
> thing in the universe. Every variable in it should be examined to try to
> out how this thing works.

The only change I see is that the two copies diverge. Being in different
bodies, they naturally experience different sensory inputs. They walk their
separate ways and become two unrelated people. If you define both bodies as
"me", and then they diverge so that they are different, then I can see where
you would describe this cosmic change from "me" to "not me". I would have
thought that in your viewpoint, the one "me" would diverge to become "two
different me's".
> EXACTLY what force (or what something) caused this profound change?
> Why can't science detect it? Does this same mystical force of yours
> in the real world, even if at a lesser intensity than in my thought
> How many atoms in your body can I change before this force kicks in and
> no longer the original ? How fast can I change them? How can atoms give us
> individuality when they have no individuality themselves? EXACTLY how
> does this force have to be until you are no longer you and just become
> that looks and acts and thinks and feels like you? Why isn't that enough
for it to
> be you? Is identity or survival really a all or nothing thing? One last
> is there one particle of evidence that this amazing force even exists?

I do not believe in this mystical force. You are the one who claims that
making a second brain think the same thoughts as me suddenly makes it me.
It is by your definition that the diverging copies suddenly change into "not
me". Since I don't agree with your definitions, I don't agree with your
conclusions, therefore I have nothing to explain. It is only by your
definition that changing from "me" to "not me" is a cosmic change. I do not
agree that with your definitions, so I see no problem. I believe you have
created a new copy that is not me. Later as we diverge, the copy still is
not me. No such problem occurs from my position. You only perceive a
problem from your position.

Again, I think this is a word-problem of semantics, not physics. You are
breaking the laws of logic (perhaps), but not the laws of physics with these

> >I don't claim that the copies can tell which is the "original" and
which is the "copy".
> I agree. You could be a copy right now yet you would still feel the same
way, you still
> feel a sense of continuity. A copy of a copy could be made and still
nothing important
> would change.


> If I made a billion copies a second and destroyed a billion copies a
> second from the day you were born there would be no change in the
> feelings you experience at this very instant because as you say, you can't
tell if
> you're a copy or the original, in fact the entire concept of "the
original" is meaningless
> in this case.

Here you have added the concept of destroying copies of me. I don't mind
copies being created, but please don't destroy them.

> You would say that many trillions of Harvey Newstroms have died
> tragically, but you're still conscious, you still have emotions, you still
have memories
> and you still have a feeling of continuity.

Yes. The killed copies have died. The last remaining copy is still alive.

> For the life of me I don't understand what has been lost.

The original Harvey Newstrom has been lost. A brain that was thinking
thoughts and would have kept thinking thoughts if left alone has suddenly
been forced to stop thinking thoughts. This is my definition of death.

For the life of me, I can't figure out how making a copy of me gives you the
right to kill me. After you make a copy, there are now two living beings
that act alike and answer to the name "Harvey Newstrom". What in the world
makes it OK to kill a living sentient being?

> >I claim that each copy can tell which is "their" body or
> >and which is the "other" body and consciousness.
> ESP?

No. They tell the same way you know that you are in your body and not in
mine. Your sensory perceptions are coming through your body. Your
movements only affect your body. Do you really have no way to know what
body your consciousness resides in?

> >Your claim that the copy and the original are "one" is semi-mystical
> >semi-unscientific. It implies thought communication between
> >brains with no scientific rationale.
> I have a red tomato in my right hand and a red apple in my left hand, but
> don't think the tomato is communicating with the apple telling it how to
be red.

But you are not claiming that the tomato is the apple. Bad analogy. Give
me an anology where you claim that the objects in either hand are the same
object, even if they are not touching or communicating.

> I grant you that some of my thought experiments are a little far out but
> what you do when you test theories, you push them to extremes to see if
> crack. Yours does.

This is what I don't understand. What theory of mine are you testing? I
disagree with your labels and your goals. I do not disagree with any
examples that your have described. What exactly is it that you are trying
to disprove? Can you "disprove" the fact that I don't want my copies
killed? Can you "prove" the fact that they "could be" killed?

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

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