Re: Is cryopreservation a solution?

Hagbard Celine (
Wed, 10 Sep 1997 12:16:02 -0400

Anders Sandberg wrote:

> Now we are getting into the identity question. Most people have different
> answers, but a large number of transhumanists seem to be in the pattern-
> identity camp: it is the pattern of atoms which makes us us, not which
> atoms. So if you could replicate the pattern you would replicate me.

Drawing from the initial part of Joao's post, it seems (IMH
non-scientific O) that given damage to the brain via aging, cryo-freeze,
or otherwise, we would be hard-pressed to put you back together with the
same identity.

I tend to lean towards a holistic neuron arrangement explaination. If
the arrangment of neurons in your brain defines your identity, it is
only because each and every neuron is in a particular place, which, as a
consequence, births something more than the sum of the physical
components (a particular identity). That is, a squishy mess of neurons
put together based upon an incomplete picture of the *entire*
arrangement would not yield anything more than a squishy mess of
neurons. Reductionist study of the brain may be helpful to understand
biology, but I would hazard that it is insufficient to understand
something so complex (and unfortunately, abstract) as identity.

This is not to say that our understanding of the brain will never reach
the point where we can "fudge" things a little. But, one neuron
incorrectly arranged may have little effect on identity -- say one step
on the identity continuum. Two neurons incorrectly arranged -- two
steps. Would three neurons incorrectly arranged have only a three-step
effect? Or would it be four steps? Or six? What about four neurons? An
exponential, geometric or one-to-one effect on identity? How many steps
are on the indentity continuum to begin with? I don't know, but from my
holistic perspective, I would argue that the effect on identity is
*likely* to be greater than the neuron-position-based amount of
incorrectness in the arrangement.

At what point to you cease to be "you?" When the number of incorrectly
arranged neurons sets you back more than 50% on the identity continuum.
You're less you than not-you.