Re: Can I kill the "original"?

From: Harvey Newstrom (
Date: Tue May 16 2000 - 14:08:23 MDT

"John Clark" <> wrote:

> 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.

What does this have to do with my statement above?

> > My definition of "one" person is: single consciousness not about to
> > 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
> (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
> conscious entities could exist at the same location, or several brains
> could generate the same consciousness at the same location.

You misunderstood my definition. I was not defining "consciousness." I was
defining the difference between "one" and "many."

Your definition of "one location" is imprecise. A splitter puts data on two
lines. Even if you say the two lines are "in the same location", they are
not the same line. They are separated by wire shielding and air. Even if
two brains are "in the same location", they are not in overlapping spaces.
There is an air gap between them. You only call these things "the same
location" because your resolution is not accurate enough to detect that they
are inches apart.

> 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.

This is a semantic problem. They are NOT the same post. One copy might get
deliverd, while one does not. One copy might get corrupted while one does
not. The very fact that your change only affects one copy and not the
other, indicates that they are separate.

If your server tried to bill you for having a million megs of data online,
would you seriously argue that you only had one meg? Or, are you seriously
aruging that of all the data in the universe, there are really only two bits
of information: a one and a zero?

> 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?

I am not harmed at all by you creating and deleting copies of me. The
copies that are created are harmed when you destroy them. The universe
might have missed the opportunity to have a billion copies of me, since you
created them but then destroyed them.

> 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.

You are playing fast-and-loose with defintions. Where did you get the plan
for building a Harvey Newstrom? From the original. Every copy of Harvey
Newstrom was generated from a pre-existing copy, except for one. There was
once an original that was produced the old-fashioned way.

You are using word-games and semantic smoke-and-mirrors to claim that there
was no original. Maybe there is no difference between the original and the
copies, I agree. But to retroactively claim that there never was an
original is just wrong historically.

Do you have another term you want to apply to the first copy besides

> >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
> have "died" something lives on, your conscious continues uninterrupted.

This is smoke-and-mirrors again. If you create a body and destroy it so
fast that it doesn't have time to have a single thought, then you have
failed to recreate my consciousness in a copy. You have changed the
definition of the copy from being a functional mind copy to a nonfunctional
body copy. If the copy cannot think a single thought, then this is clearly
not the thought-synchronized copy you were discussing earlier.

> > A brain that was thinking thoughts and would have kept thinking
> >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
> not have thought if I'd kept my mouth shut. Do I commit murder whenever
> I say "hello"?

You misunderstood me again. I didn't say any change in thought equals
death. I said any prevention of thought equals death. You're saying
"hello" generates new thoughts, it does not prevent them. I welcome the new
thoughts generated when you say "hello". I avoid the lack of thoughts when
you destroy my brain.

> >>Me:
> >>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
> 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.

You're not going to claim that the Platonic god-form qualia of "redness" is
co-existing in both fruit, are you? Is your whole claim of duplicates being
a single object based on quantam many-worlds, qualia, Platonic forms, mystic
souls, or anything else that can't be defined by atoms and energy?

> >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.

Very good analogy. I think this clearly defines the difference between our
belief systems. Clearly, you believe a person is a quality or adjective,
and anybody displaying that quality is that quality. Clearly, I believe
that a person is an instance of a quality and anybody displaying that
quality is another identical person.

Again, I don't see where we disagree on any objective facts. We disagree on
the philosophical ramifications of the copy experiments. We disagree on the
semantic terminology we should use to describe the physics. We disagree on
our value judgements as to which attributes are important to us and which
attributes are unimportant.

Is this a good summary of the discussion? I don't want to cut off
discussion, because it is very interesting to me. However, I would like to
know if we are discussing differences of philosophy, beliefs, and values
instead of physics, atoms and energy.

> >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.

It may be impossible to discuss these with you, since your definitions
preclude the concepts. Your terms are defined a la 1984 doublespeak, such
that decenting opinions cannot be expressed.

You claim that two brains or files or postings containing the exact same
data are actually the same single entity. If this is so, how can we even
discuss making an identical copy? If you start out with "one" entity, make
a duplicate copy, and end up with "one" entity, how do you know that you
succeeded? How do you express in your terminology that a copy has been made
or that a duplicate even exists?

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

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