RE: Sincere Questions on Identity

From: Harvey Newstrom (
Date: Sat Dec 15 2001 - 12:36:18 MST

John Clark wrote,
> Harvey Newstrom <> Wrote:
> >You are confusing this statement:
> >The copies can always tell themselves apart.
> >with this statement:
> >The copies can tell which was the original and which was the
> recreation.
> >The former statement is true and is what I claim.
> I don't think either statement is true.
> I make a identical copy of you and put both of you into identical
> environments.
> You are now running in parallel. When random quantum fluctuations
> cause you
> to diverge I interfere and nudge you back together. Which one are you?
> The only proper answer is "yes".

You have changed the question again, so now I perceive three different
questions with three different answers:

1. Can copies can tell themselves apart?
Yes. Each one consistently refers to themselves as "me, here" and the other
one as "you, there". They will never change or confuse their terminology.
Neither copy will ever mistakenly think that they are the other copy.

2. Can copies can tell which was the original and which was the recreation?
This is a historical question. If they kept track and have memory of the
copying event, they would remember which one was the original and which one
was the copy. If nobody kept track, and the copies were unconscious during
the procedure or do not remember, then they would not know. The fact that
no one can remember a historical event does not mean that it never happened.
There is a correct answer, but the copies may or may not know it.

3. "Which one are you?"
This is a vague question with no definite answer. The relative pronoun
"you" refers to different people at different times in different contexts.
I can only answer such a relative question using a relative answer. "I am
the copy standing right here. I am not the other copy standing over there."

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

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