Sincere Questions on Identity

From: Smigrodzki, Rafal (SmigrodzkiR@MSX.UPMC.EDU)
Date: Thu Dec 13 2001 - 16:35:43 MST

From: "Dickey, Michael F" <>

Sincerely, I hate to bring this subject up again, but it has been running
through my mind.

### It's ok.

 It seems a good number of the people on this list support
the assertion that a copy is 'you'. 

### What many believe is not so much that a copy standing next to the original is in all respects identical to "me", because it obviously isn't - you do not have direct neural access to the memories of the copy or direct control of vis movements. The gist of the matter is something different - the word "identity" has a number of meanings, applicable in various contexts.

In the context of physical objects, for the most part identity entails continuity in time and 100% overlap in space, and is an objective quality (all sane and well-informed observers will usually agree on the identity of a car or planet).

However, in the context of personal survival, this word is being used here frequently in a different meaning altogether - namely, to describe a subjectively perceived attribute of a material object, related to the desirability of its continued existence, as compared to the subjectively perceived focus of conscious information processing ("self"). When I say that my copy is identical to me, I express also a value judgement, a statement of personal attitude. It means that the continued temporal existence of the copy is as desirable as the existence of the self and its direct spatiotemporal continuation.

I don't care if the body and material substrate of myself is destroyed tomorrow, as long as a sufficiently similar copy is made and becomes active (=is processing information) in the future. Such attitude maximizes the chances that entities indistinguishable on the software level from my current self will exist in the future, which is exactly the objective of my survival instinct. Those whose suvival instinct is concentrated on prolonging a spatiotemporally continuous pattern of thoughts starting at their present self, may have a totally different attitude.

Presumably, such attitude can under some circumstances lead to diminished frequency of carriers of this attitude (let's say, we have a teleport machine which uploads you by the microtome method, and transmits data about you for reconstruction on a planet far away from our Sun, which becomes a Supernova by a mysterious mechanism - those who do teleport will populate the planet, those who believe that teleporting is merely producing strangers with similar beliefs, will most likely evaporate with the Earth)

Anybody can have opinions about this subject which are totally subjective and at odds with others, as it is a matter of taste. ------

my arguments suggest, to me at least, that perhaps my stance is wrong.

### Don't worry, it's not wrong, merely different. ------

I would argue that anything suggesting a continuity of consciousness between an original and a copy necessarily implies that there is some supernatural element to consciousness, unless you acknowledge that the copy is a different being.

### There is no spatiotemporal continuity and the copy is a different being but it is a being just as valuable to me as myself.


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