Re: Can I kill the "original"?

From: John Clark (
Date: Tue May 16 2000 - 00:21:18 MDT

Harvey Newstrom <> Wrote:

>I claim that they are thinking the same thoughts because the copy's
>blank brain just got overwritten with the original's thoughts.

If a computer file is overwritten by the exact same file it is not erased.

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

A brain can not detect its position so if consciousness even has a location
(Where is "red" or the number 17?) it must be where its sense data
originated. It's easy to put a splitter on a data line so several different
conscious entities could exist at the same location, or several brains
could generate the same consciousness at the same location.

> 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.

Everybody on this list received you post, it was the same message, they were all
identical, you only wrote one post. But now I changed one "i" to a "e" and so now
they can be distinguished, there are now 2 different messages.

>>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
>>subjective 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.

No. I've been making a billion Harvey Newstroms and destroying a billion
Harvey Newstroms every second and will continue to do so. How are you
any poorer for it?

>The original Harvey Newstrom has been lost.

There never was an original Harvey Newstrom, I've been doing this
a billion times every second since the day you were born. It's my hobby.

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

But the last remaining copy is only "alive" for 10^-9 seconds and that's
far too short a time to form a complete thought, and yet you still think,
you still feel alive, you still feel that life is continuos, and you didn't even
know I was doing this to you until I told you. Despite the trillions you say
have "died" something lives on, your conscious continues uninterrupted.

> 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.

Every time I talk to you I change you, I cause you to think thoughts you would
not have thought if I'd kept my mouth shut. Do I commit murder whenever
I say "hello"?

>>I have a red tomato in my right hand and a red apple in my left hand, but
>>I 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.

Well actually, although my world famous, incredibly intense, completely mind bowing
godlike modesty makes me hesitate to say so, I think it's a damn good analogy.
Neither the tomato nor the apple is important, only red is important. Neither carbon
atoms or hydrogen atoms are important, only you and I are important.

>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.

OK, I hold the number 17 in my right hand and in my left.

>What theory of mine are you testing?

What a copy is, what the original is, at what point one changes into the
other, and most important of all your theory that it matters.

                     John K Clark

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