Re: Does a copy know?

Geoff Smith (
Sun, 21 Sep 1997 15:11:47 -0700 (PDT)

On Sun, 21 Sep 1997, John K Clark wrote:

> On Sat, 20 Sep 1997 Geoff Smith <> Wrote:
> >[What makes us different?] I would say location. (I think JK would
> >disagree)
> Me and my exact copy and standing an equal distance from the center of
> a perfectly symmetrical room. A mad scientist presses the button on a magic
> machine that he claims will instantaneously exchange my brain with that of my
> exact copy. He presses the button but I notice absolutely no difference, he
> says "that's because the senses of the ordinal and the copy were sending the
> same signals to whatever brain happened to be in it's head". You are also
> present armed with CAT scans and MRI's and EEG's and high speed cameras and
> lots of other good stuff, but you can find no change when he presses the
> button either. Our loony friend says "that's because the two brains were
> identical, but really there was a huge change, I mean, after all, I exchanged
> the brains". I maintain that absolutely nothing is happening and if there is
> any difference between this man and a charlatan the difference is too small
> to be measured.
> In 1690 the philosopher and co-inventor (with Newton) of The Calculus,
> Gottfried Leibniz, wrote about something he called " The Identity Of
> Indiscernibles ". He said that things that you can measure are what's
> important, and if there is no way to find a difference between two things
> then they are identical, and switching the position of the objects does not
> change the physical state of the system. This idea has turned out to be of
> paramount importance in the scientific method, exchange forces in modern
> physics and The Pauli Exclusion Principle in particular could not be derived
> or understood without it.
> If objectively there is no difference and subjectively there is no difference
> then there is no difference, nothing is happening when the button is pressed
> and identity and consciousness can not be a function of position.

Thank you, John Clark. I would say our thoughts of self have begun to
converge ;)

Now that I have a greater understanding of your position, through many
interesting thought experiments, I want to ask you some more applicable

When/if the technology becomes available, do you want to make a copy of

If yes, why?

If no, and a copy was made against your will, would you consider your
copy/original a threat? Would you attempt to eliminate your copy/original
so he wouldn't intrude on your niche? (of course, if your answer is yes,
you should *probably* assume that your copy/original is going to do the
same thing)

I haven't thought about this question enough yet, but my first thought is
that my original/copy would be a threat. This means my orginal/copy's
thoughts would probably be the same-- scary stuff! This would make an
interesting psychological thriller. ;)

> On Sun, 21 Sep 1997 Kennita Watson <> Wrote:
> >The two may be the same at the instant of copying, but as soon as
> >they are in different locations, they begin to have different inputs,
> >so their thoughts begin to diverge.
> I agree with that entirely, if they get different inputs they will start to
> diverge. I think that means survival is not a binary all or nothing matter.
> The 3 year old John Clark may not be completely dead but he's not as alive as
> the John Clark of today.

Moi, aussi.


(ps. I hope you have the same policy as the other extropian who has the
"all my ideas are in the public domain" signature, because I intend to use
"survival is not binary" extensively)