Re: Does a copy know?

Geoff Smith (
Mon, 15 Sep 1997 14:49:25 -0700 (PDT)

On Mon, 15 Sep 1997, John K Clark wrote:

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

Yes, you are a different person after 5 minutes, even if you haven't
moved.(which is relative, of course)

What I am trying to say is that if two objects, whatever they are, exist
simultaneously in different locations, they are not the same object (you
want want to use relativity to refute this statement, then I'll *really*
have to think ;)

It's not that the copy has moved, it's that the original has *not* moved.

Say you set up a video camera in your duplication chamber. You now tape
the duplication. As long as the original is not totally disassembled, it
is pretty easy to tell which is which. And, if you monitor how they
diverge, you will be able to differentiate them in the future. (or you
could just mark the copy)

I agree that we are our thoughts, but the duplicate has had no thoughts,
only *memories* of thoughts. On the other hand, the original will
theoretically still have some of the atoms that participated in the
chemical reactions that made those thoughts in the first place. I'm not
convinced that you can hold the copy responsible for the thoughts and
actions of the original. But that is a more difficult question to answer.

> >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.

Let me change the thought experiment a bit. Lets make the ecosystem that
is the same as ours *similar* to ours. Similar, but not the same. Also,
your duplicate has not had the same history as you. But, by some
*outrageous* and completely *bizarre* coincidence, right at this very
moment your duplicate(which was really a misnomer before) has *exactly*
the same structure as you, and is having the same thoughts and emotions
How this convergence happened when you two people have different
histories completely blows your mind, but this is my thought experiment,
so it happened. Now my question is the same: Are you the same person?

My answer would be no, I'd be interested to hear your answer, and why.

> 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.

If I somehow(another thought experiment) have the exact same thought as
you(I'm not sure how you'd go about measuring that) at exactly the same
time, are our two persons converging. And if this continues, to the point
where ALL our thoughts and emotions are exactly the same, have we become
one person? Did I die? Did you die? How can two people become one when
both of them still exist?

I would say we are still two different peope. To differentiate, I would
again have to look at history of action(under which I consider thought
to be a subset) and location.