Does a copy know?

John K Clark (
Thu, 18 Sep 1997 21:20:54 -0700 (PDT)


On Tue, 16 Sep 1997 Geoff Smith <> Wrote:

>to use your wording, what are the limits of your "chunk of matter"?
>Does this chunk of matter include the E. Coli in your gut

I, that is, the thoughts that matter produces when it is organized in a
John Clark-ish way, doesn't value E.Coli, can see nothing unique about the
ones in Clark's gut and doesn't care if they survive or not.

>Obviously, your definition of a person is not useful for an outside

I disagree, if a chunk of matter acts in a John Clark-ish way then it is
John Clark.

>I don't know what your thoughts are. All I can observe is your
>current structure, and your history of structure and actions.


>Maybe these two projects are immmiscible, what do you think?

It's possible that my copy does not have my consciousness but very unlikely,
I would say it's comparable to me being the only conscious creature in the
universe, not worth worrying about. Even if true it would be my problem not
yours, from your point of view my copy is definitely John Clark.

>Say I run a race, and I win, and the award ceremony is tomorrow.
>[...] Who does the prize go to? Now is the distinction between
>original and copy meaningless?

Yes meaningless. Your "copy" is identical to the "original" so both of you
are equally convinced that you are the original, you are convinced that you
are the original, but are you the original? As for who gets the prize, flip a
coin, both have an equal claim to it, but of course then they would no longer
be identical because one lost the toss and one did not.

>one would see that the duplicate has little or no history, while the
>original quite obviously does.

The history of the copy is very rich, not long ago the atoms in him were in
plants and animals and inorganic chemicals, just like the original. The chain
of reasons why the atoms in the copy are in the position they are now and
have the velocity they have now goes all the way back to the Big Bang.
I don't want to slight the original, he had a nice history too.

>Maybe I just have a hard time seeing convergance in similarity as a
>full convergance. There are still too things, even if they are the
>same in structure.

Atoms have no individuality, if they can't even give themselves that property
they certainly can't give it to us. If you make 2 objects and place the atoms
as accurately as quantum mechanics allows then you don't have two objects you
have 2 instances of one object, like 2 instances of one E-mail message.
If my copy is not me then the soul must exist. I think the soul is hogwash.

>With this philosophy, I assume you judge a person by a clean-slate
>policy? Do you think people are not responsible for past actions
>because it doesn't matter how they got to be the way they are, it's
>just the way they are now?

No, if I'm a serial killer then so is my copy.
I wish nothing had to suffer, ever, not even evil men, after all they suffer
just as intently as a good man. Unfortunately that's not possible and evil
men must be punished, but there are only 2 reason that I can find to justify
that, to keep the person from committing more evil acts and as a deterrent
for others. That is justice, more than that is vengeance. On Wed, 17 Sep 1997 Wrote:

>Okay, tell me your algorithm for storing all the information
>describing a object in one bit, the world needs to know!

I don't have such an algorithm. As I pointed out in another post, if the
Beckenstein bound is true then the amount of information inside a sphere
of radius R meters and mass M kilograms is less than or equal to
2.577 *10^43* M*R bits. I don't think you'd need anything close to that sort
of accuracy to make a chunk of matter behave in a John Clark-ish way.

>Your physical state is destroyed and replaced for every quantum
>uncertainty, and many times when drinking a cup of coffee. But it
>isn't physical state we're trying to preserve, it's consciousness.

We don't need to guess about fantastically tiny and subtle physical effects
changing conscious, we know with absolute certainty that coffee effects
consciousness, and there is nothing tiny about it, if it were people wouldn't
bother to drink it at all. Do you really worry about lousing your identity
when you drink a cup?

>Since a quantum uncertainty can destroy and replace you, then it can
>also change the input between two instances of the same object.

Use redundancy and a digital line and the error rate can be made arbitrarily

>Input goes beyond your senses, the entire arrangement of the
>universe and every particle in it contributes.


>The point is, consciousness does not exist as one point in time,
>it exists across time.

That's true, without senses consciousness can't detect space or time, I could
stop your mind for a billion years and then restart it and you would never

>It is created by past experience


>and fueled by future experience,

I don't know what that means.

>if there exists a lapse in logic between these, (being destroyed
>at one point in time and recreated in another place/time, not to
>mention another hardware system constitutes as a lapse in logic)
>then the conscious thread is terminated.

What lapse of logic? There are reasons your copy is the way he is and those
reasons are every bit as good as the reasons you are the way you are, in fact
most of the reasons are the same.

>>Suppose I came to you and proved to you that Mr. YakWaxx died last
>>week, I used my Nano Robots to take him apart atom by atom before
>>he knew what hit him, they carefully recorded the position of every
>>atom, then just 5 minutes ago my robots used this information to
>>make a "copy" from different atoms that were handy.

>The "original" is me, it's this instance of me. Whoever went before
>me doesn't matter and doesn't stop that fact that I want to carry on
>this perticular instance of me.

Correct, and there is only one way to tell if you were successful in carrying
on this particular instance of you, if the future YakWaxx looks at the
present YakWaxx and says "I have his memories, I have his personality,
no thoughts or emotions were interrupted, I remember being him, yep, that was
me", then you have continued.

>>is there any way you can know that my little story is not true?

>It's irrelevant.

I can't think of anything more relevant, if there is no way to tell if my
little story is true then there is no reason to care if my little story is

John K Clark

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