Re: Why qualia might matter

From: Dan Fabulich (
Date: Mon Mar 26 2001 - 20:40:41 MST

Actually, even in the uploading case, it doesn't matter.

Consider a situation where you're going to die, no matter what, in
five minutes. You have the option, however, of sacrificing your life
a minute early so that a very imperfect copy of you can be created and
live on.

So, either five minutes, no copy, or four minutes, with a copy. The
choice to me seems clear, no matter WHAT your views on identity,
qualia, and the effectiveness of immortality-via-backup are.

But this view can be extended and made probabilistic. Remember, if
immortality-via-backup will fail, then you're *definitely* going to
die, at some point. Given an arbitrary amount of time, any
arbitrarily large physical system will fail eventually.

Now suppose that qualia considerations rule out any possibility that
an uploaded version of you is really you. It's somebody else, no
matter how good the copy. (I don't think this is right, but it really
doesn't matter.) Suppose as well that tomorrow I present you with the
option to undergo a destructive upload, which will destroy you, but
allow some copy or copies of you to live on forever (or orders of
magnitude longer than you'll ever live, it hardly matters.)

>From the perspective of infinity, *any* time slice, be it millions or
even billions of years, is far far less than the order of one spare
minute out of five. From that perspective, you're doomed to die
shortly. Agreeing to a destructive upload is like agreeing to shorten
your life by a minute so that a copy, however bad, may succeed you.

So, even if you have the most essentialist views possible about qualia,
and claim that uploading your own (same) consciousness into a computer
is impossible, you should still undergo a destructive upload if given
the opportunity.

(Of course, this post overlooks all sorts of other possibilities which
might get in your way, but considerations of that kind in no way turn
on the question of qualia, so they may be abstracted away for the
purposes of this example. For example, if the copies were no more
likely to live longer than you, then even the most hard-core
functionalist should refuse to destructively upload.)


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

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