I intend, therefore I am (was Freedom or death)

Lee Daniel Crocker (lcrocker@calweb.com)
Tue, 12 Aug 1997 11:38:05 -0700 (PDT)

> [den Otter asks...]
> > Tell me, what crime is worse: kidnapping or murder?
> [Eli replies...]
> <http://tezcat.com/%7Eeliezer/algernon_ethics.html>
> 'Over time, I've learned to value free will over human life...

A consistently recurring idea throughout the Extro3 conference was
that Identity is a matter of goals, values, intentions. Max talked
about offloading tasks such as memory, physical upkeep, presentation,
and even some personality traits to technological agents. What's
left as "you" is how you choose to use them.

Sasha spoke of the continuing entities in a cybernetic world as
"teleological threads" (perhaps a bit frightening to those of us
who have written multi-threaded software:), with the proportion
of technology to nature being used to implement them increasing.

Kevin Kelly gave a wonderful speech about long-term projects, and
what makes them succeed and fail. A central idea was that an
institution with goals and values that looks to the future beyond
its present physical existence can persist.

The same idea could be found in other talks such as the human
germline engineering one (after the speciation explosion, how
do you identify a being?) and the Jupiter-brian talk (after we are
all distributed intelligences in a large network, where are "we"?
"We" are at the Instruction Pointer of our thread, of course,
waiting for our timeslice to intend for one more cycle).

Identity = teleology. I intend, therefore I am.

It is a natural consequence of this, then, to value freedom
over biological life, because the former gives us identity, not
the latter. With past and present technologies, the only way
to continue one's identity was to instill your values in others,
such as children or church-fellows. We now have the technology
on the horizon to maintain ourselves indefinitely, so we may
need those other means less.

We fear death not because it ends biological processes, but
because it ends our ability to intend. People risk their
lives for freedom because freedom is the goal, and life is the
means, not the end.

I, for one, presently intend to preserve myself both in a Dewar
and in a perpetual web site. Both will be expensive. If it
came down to a decision on my deathbed that I could afford to
be suspended only at the cost of giving up the web site that
contained a lifetime of values and goals, I'd be inclined to
keep the web site.

Lee Daniel Crocker <lee@piclab.com> <http://www.piclab.com/lcrocker.html>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC