RE: neo-luddites are "US Taliban" (was Re: "Cloning Breakthrough" not one)

From: Harvey Newstrom (
Date: Thu Nov 29 2001 - 12:58:19 MST

Dickey, Michael F wrote,
> Is it me or does this conversation seem to be skipping the important point
> that the backup is not me, but a copy of me. And that if I die, even if a
> backup lives on, there is no continuity of conscioussness.

If you check the archives, you will see that this is a never-ending debate
on this list. It has been rehashed many times, and I am not aware of anyone
changing their mind during any of the discussions.

Some people (including myself) agree with you that a person and a copy are
two identical yet separate individual consciousnesses. Other people will
argue that if they are exact copies, they are the "same" consciousness,
indistinguishable, and it doesn't matter which one lives on.

Both sides insist that their way is obvious and logically provable. As far
as I can tell, the logical proofs of both sides are each consistent within
themselves and consistent with the framework of the presenter. However,
neither side's logical proofs seem to translate to the other side's
framework, because the very definitions of identity, "same", "separate", and
even methods of counting individuals are inconsistent.

The argument finally boils down, in my opinion, to semantics. Given the
definition of identity that claims the two copies are separate, we can prove
that the two copies are separate. Given the definition of identity that
claims all copies are the same individual, we can prove that all copies are
the same individual. Assuming the opposing side's definitions for the sake
of argument, most logical thinkers will agree that the opposing side's
viewpoint holds true. However, the thinker still is not convinced to switch
sides, because they are attached to one definition over another.

In the end, it boils down to different definitions of goals and personal
preferences. Some prefer that every instance of consciousness continues
onward, while others only desire that at least one instance of each
consciousness continues onward. Thus, neither can be proven right or wrong.
Both scenarios can occur in the real word. The real disagreement is the
personal choice of which is desirable. Each individual must answer this
question for themselves.

However, the problem does keep popping up on this list. As above, there is
a fundamental difference of opinion whether a mass murder had been
committed, or whether a mere temporary distraction has occurred. Some
people will propose solutions to problems that to them sound like a simple
solution, and to others sound like a holocaust. In many ways, this is
similar to the abortion debate. Are we killing a few cells, or are we
killing a person? There are obviously different reactions depending on how
we define a living individual.

I would love to see a discussion about this, but I don't think it belongs in
this forum. It is a very specific philosophical question about how to
define the self, others, identity, and other meta-questions about what it
means to be "me".

Harvey Newstrom <>
Principal Security Consultant, Newstaff Inc. <>
Board of Directors, Extropy Institute <>
Cofounder, Pro-Act <>

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