Re: [UPLOADING] Is an exact duplicate "me"?

Peter C. McCluskey (
Thu, 23 Jul 1998 10:31:37 -0700 (Harvey Newstrom) writes:
>My only objection has been the killing of the original. This is not
>based on any fault in the copy. It is because I want the original to

That certainly clears up some misunderstandings.

>continue to live. I believe "Harvey Newstrom" is a viable person
>capable of great things in the future. If you duplicate "Harvey
>Newstrom", there are now two "Harvey Newstroms". I think both of them
>can be great. Left alone, they will both grow, experience and evolve.
>Killing one of them because he is "no longer required" or "not
>sufficiently unique to contribute anything new", is murder just as it
>would be to kill any person for these kinds of reasons. I think
>duplicated people have the same rights as any person.

I agree that terminating one of them without his consent is wrong in a sense that is vaguely similar to the sense in which murder is wrong even if the harm done is no greater than the harm done by removing someone's appendix without his consent.
I think the important question is whether the person involved should consider consenting to such a termination the same way we currently consider suicide objectionable.

As cryonicists frequently point out, the word death has been used in 2 subtly different ways, one (a diagnosis) refers to a fairly easily observable state (is the patient breathing and/or pumping blood to his brain or likely to resume doing so real soon now) and the other (a prognosis) refers to whether that personality will ever function again. When technological changes make old rules for diagnosis diverge from a good prognosis, it is invariably the diagnosis which changes to approximate an estimate of whether a personality closely resembling the person who existed going into the new and unusual process exists after that process is over. Things that used to be considered killing (e.g. stopping someone's heart) become tolerated medical procedures. Since in the scenarios we have been discussing, the personality that remains at the end of the new procedure is as similar to all of the intermediate personalities as would be the case in medical procedures which are accepted today, I expect the brief existence of a personality that gets physically destroyed will cease to be diagnosed as death if a sufficiently similar personality at the end of the process says it was ok. I don't think this will seem much different from the erasure of a (just barely) unique personality that currently happens when a person is given anesthesia (which wipes out some short-term memories that would have made the patient a slightly different person than the patient that wakes up after the anesthesia).

If I now understand your position correctly, it implies that disintegrating person X at time t and reintegrating equivalent atoms into the same pattern somewhere else at time t+1 doesn't kill anyone, but if the reintegration happens at time t-1 instead it does kill someone. Is this a correct interpretation of your position? If so, is it the temporal order that matters, or would it not amount to killing someone if a time traveller were to bring all the data needed to reintegrate the person's experience up through time t? If it's the temporal order that matters, I'd like to know what happens if the temporal order is different in the reference frames of the two beings?
If it's the differences in experience that matter, how would my agreeing to duplicate myself and have one copy killed a few minutes later be any more distateful that doing something that will wipe out my short-term memory?

Peter McCluskey          | Critmail ( | Accept nothing less to archive your mailing list