Does a copy know?

John K Clark (
Mon, 15 Sep 1997 13:35:41 -0700 (PDT)


On Mon, 15 Sep 1997 Geoff Smith <> Wrote:

>Does a copy know ?

No. Scientifically there is no way the copy could obtain the information that
he was a "copy", you'd have to invoke religious mumbo jumbo.

>the copy is not you. Unless you have some way of superimposing the
>copy onto the original, the copy will be in a different location
>than the originial. This fact, in itself, is a fundamental

You're in a different position than you were 5 minutes ago, does that make
you a different person?

>For example... say in a galaxy far, far away there is a planet that
>developed life exactly like ours. On this planet, by pure coincidence,
>there just happens to be a human being *exactly* like you,
>sub-atomic-particle by sub-atomic-particle. Is this person you? I would
>say not, even though he has exactly the same structure as you.

OK, Suppose an exact duplicate of the earth, and it's entire ecosystem, were
made a billion light years away. The duplicate world would need some sort of
feedback mechanism to keep the worlds in synchronization, non linear effects
would amplify tiny variations, even quantum fluctuations, into big
differences, but this is a thought experiment so who cares. In the first two
cases below the results would vary according to personalities, remember
there's a lot of illogic even in the best of us.

1) I know all about the duplicate world and you put a 44 magnum to my head
and tell me in ten seconds you will blow my brains out, am I concerned ?
You bet I am because I know that your double is holding an identical gun
to the head of my double and making an identical threat.

2) I find out that for the first time since the Big Bang the worlds will
diverge, in 10 seconds you will put a bullet in my head but my double will
be spared, am I concerned ? Yes, and angry as well, in times of intense
stress nobody is very logical. My double is no longer exact because I am
going through a traumatic experience and my double is not. I'd be looking
at that huge gun and wondering what it will be like when it goes off and
if death will really be instantaneous. I'd be wondering if my philosophy
was really as sound as I thought it was and I'd also be wondering why I
get the bullet and not my double and cursing the unfairness of it all.
My (semi) double would be thinking "it's a shame about that other fellow
but I'm glad it's not me".

3) I know nothing about the duplicate world, a gun is at both our heads and
are both convinced we're going to die. One gun goes off, making a hell of
a mess, but the other gun, for inexplicable reasons misfires. In this case
NOBODY died and except for undergoing a terrifying experience I am
completely unharmed.

The bottom line is that I don't think we have thoughts and emotions, I think
we are thoughts and emotions, and the idea that the particular hardware that
is rendering them changes their meaning is as crazy as my computer making the
meaning of your post different from what it was on yours.

John K Clark

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