RE: IDENTITY- What it means to be 'me'

From: Dickey, Michael F (
Date: Wed Dec 05 2001 - 14:05:37 MST

From: John Clark []
Sent: Tuesday, December 04, 2001 1:15 AM
Subject: Re: IDENTITY- What it means to be 'me'

Dickey, Michael F <> Wrote:

> I dont see how you can logically say a copy waking up is the
>same thing as me waking up.

Do you have any reason for thinking this hasn't already happened and
is there any reason to be upset if it had? If you were copied and
murdered last night would you feel one bit different today? What
exactly do you mean by "The Original" anyway, all your atoms are in
a constant state of flux, you really aren't the man you were a year ago.

            John K Clark

Yes, there is a reason to suspect it has not happened, as there is no
evidence to suggest it has. How do you know your best friend was not
replaced by a shape shifting alien? Just because you see no evidence
proving he has not (as that is impossible) it does not make a reasonable
assumption to assume he has, simply because it exists in the realm of the

In any case, the points you make I have already discussed in my previous two

1st, how do I know I havent already been copied? Which my response to is
basically identical to the 'How do you know you were not copied while you
slept' question.

" "But to continue the argument, how can you be sure that you don't die
night when you go to sleep and that the conscious being who awakes the next
morning is not a copy with the same memories?" "

"I cant say for sure, as I can not prove something that by definition can
be tested. How can you be sure there isnt an invisible dragon living in
your garage? You cant prove negatives or things that by definition exist
outside the realm of testability. But science offers an answer in the form
of Occam's razor. When I go to sleep, my nueral pattern and atomic
arrangement is not destroyed, then copied and placed into a similiar body.
If my nueral pattern is not destroyed or affected, then it is reasonable to
assume that I am the same me that went to sleep the night before. How do I
know I wasnt destroyed and recreated? How do I know that the very passage
of time is not a continual process of destruction and copying of me? You
cant, but there is no evidence to suggest either as the simplest
explanation. At the plank length and time, as I mentioned in my post, space
time exists in no smaller intervals and transversing them thus means that
atomic particles are continually quantum teleporting through these energy
barriers. If part of concioussness is rooted in a quantum effect, this may
definately deserve some consideration. Likely though it is rooted in the
pattern of the microscopic atoms, and not the sub miscroscopic particles.
Changing the sub microscopic particulate makeup of an atom through quantum
passage through space-time has no bearing on the atom or its effect, let
alone the patterns of millions of atoms formed into a network of billions
billions of nuerons.

If, every night, people could be observed to spontaneously dissapear then
reappaear a few moments later, such philosophical musing might require
consideration, but since people do not do such things, it is reasonable and
scientific to assume that the person who went to sleep is the same one who
woke up. "

And, 2nd you said "all your atoms are in a constant state of flux, you
really aren't the man you were a year ago"

Indeed, I am not made of the same atoms, but as I pointed out in my original
message on identity, the RATE of the replacement is the key difference. My
atoms are replaced over a wide spanse of time, and at any given time the
majority of the physiological mechanism that makes up my brain and my
conscioussness is unaffected. If you compare the differece between
replacing one nueron at a time with a hardware equivalent vs. replacing ALL
of them through a destructive scanning method, it become obvious that there
is quite a functional difference between then two. Surely you dont think
replacing ONE nueron of 100 billion billion nuerons has the same effect as
replacing 100 billion billion nuerons while destroying the original nuerons.

I also addressed this key difference in both of my messages...

"An alternative to consider would be what I laid out in my original post.
That replacing only a few nuerons or atoms at a time in an overall nueral
pattern could not be said to effect continuity of conscioussness like
destroying and copying ALL of them simaltaneously would be. Keep the number
of nuerons being replaced low, and the question becomes worthless. The
human brain loses numerous nuerons every day and grows a few every year. So
to me this would provide a good guideline to follow, and in the interim
(while waiting for these nuerons to be replaced) one should take diligent
care to protect the physiological housing of thier conscioussness."


"The macroscopic analogy of this would be replacing all neurons at the same
time with a copy of that neural pattern or replacing one neuron at a time
over a great length of time. These two effects would, I feel, be quite
different. Is it still me if one neuron is replaced with a synthetic
hardware neuron? I think so, but what if I replace 10, 100, or 10^4 or 10^5
neurons? At what point do we have to start considering the possibility
that it is not me but a copy of me. Surely if only one neuron were *not*
replaced and the rest were with a copy, then that should be considered a
copy of me, as 1 neuron is not enough to house my consciousness.

Should my neural net be slowly replaced one neuron at a time, I would not
consider this any loss to the continuity of consciousness, and, at least
with my knowledge of the subject, I would consider this to indeed be *me*

Once my neural net is replaced by hardware though, an entirely different
scenario comes into play. I think, in the short time I have spent thinking
about this, that a sort of 'distributed processing' would be utilized, once
your neurons have been replaced by a hardware version on neuron at a time,
a copy could be made of your neural net, also one neuron at a time, and your
neural net could slowly start to communicate, one neuron at a time, with
this copy. Thus distributing your consciousness over two hardware copies,
without (in my opinion) having to worry about the loss of continuity of
consciousness. This could be expanded to multiple copies with your
consciousness randomly distributed across multiple copies of your original
neural net. If this is the case, and no one copy of your neural net houses
more than say... 5% of your total conscious processes then damage to any
one particular net will not result in your death while still maintaining
continuity of consciousness."

But the key question remains, which seems to be ignored...

".... If we copied your nueral pattern
and created a duplicate of it, while still keeping you intact, and woke you
both up, what would happen? If we took your copy into another room, would
you be experiencing subjectively what your copy was? I doubt it. Therefore
the copies 'waking up' and continuity of concsiousness is different and
isolated from yours."



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