Re: The copy paradox

Holger Wagner (
Thu, 6 Nov 1997 13:13:40 +0100 (MET)

On Wed, 5 Nov 1997, Brent Allsop wrote:

> Holger Wagner <> asked:
> > Where can I find some good information about this (effing etc.)? At
> > the moment, this doesn't seem quite realistic to me, but I'm willing
> > to learn :-)
> That's the problem. This kind of stuff seems so basic to the
> philosophy of mind that it is utterly surprising to me that there
> isn't more scholarly stuff written about this kind of stuff.

At this very moment, I don't think there is that much need to solve this
problem. The technology to copy yourself is out of reach, isn't it?
Before that, we're facing another problem: what about simulated
consciousness. We kill most animals without really caring, but what about
killing a simulation of a human identity - simply switching the power off
and deleting the information?

We are all humans and believe that we all have consciousness, currently,
I don't see any way to prove this. I know that I am real, and that I have
a consciousness, but the whole world around may be just simulated
(maybe we've had nanotech milleniums ago, and my current 'experience' is
just an attempt to understand ancient biological organisms). It's
pointless to discuss this, but I think it illustrates the problem very well.

Even when you completely understand the brain, it's just like completely
understanding a computer. Does Eliza have a consciousness or not? If I
scan my brain, and have a simulation of my personality in a computer
(which will probably be easier than copying myself), does this simulation
have a right to 'live'? Even if I can't experience what this simulation
experiences, I'd still try to protect it because it could completely
replace me (maybe the computer is simply better), and then could be the
one who decides about what is done with me (the simulation also can't
prove that I have a consciousness).

> It could be likely that if you are Dup1 you will be extremely
> annoyed at the way Dup2 continually says he is the real Dup.

That's something you could control: before duplicating yourself,
understand that after duplication, you can either be the real one, or the
duplicate - then, look at the place where you get scanned, and the place
where the copy is 'created'. After duplication, you have an easy way to
decide whether you're the original or the copy - but you will also know
that to the outside world, it doesn't make ANY difference. Of course, you
will remain in your body. You could consider your duplicate some sort of
'child' - only that from the first moment, it has your 'functionality'.

> And of
> course you wouldn't want to be Trans1 because he was destroyed even
> though Trans2 claims he is the same. If you were Trans2 you would
> have no way of directly consciously knowing or remembering that Trans1
> was destroyed and believe that you were the original transported
> Trans.

That's the major problem: the world will never find out that you were
actually blown out of existance.

> Also If you were Dup2 you would believe that you were the
> original Dup and Dup1 would possibly equally annoy you by claiming he
> was the real Dup.

YOU won't be dup2, but you can be sure that dup2 feels exactly the way
you do (at least for the first few moments).

That's quite an interesting thing: _I_ would probably go mad after
transportation, because my new instance couldn't deal with the fact that
I was wiped out. Someone who believes that it works (that the
consciousness is transported with the information), would feel fine (and
the original wouldn't care because it simply does not exist anymore).

> your state or shape. If you organized the proper stuff(*1) into this
> proper shape it would be you.

The way uploading is described in the Extropian-FAQ seems possible, but
if that works, 'transporters' like in Star Trek will be completely
obsolete (you simply download a part of you to any place, then scan that
'instance' of you after it made some experiences, and by that expand your
consciousness - you won't be able to experience what your new instance
experiences first hand, unless you're connected in any way - but that
doesn't really matter... only if that instance gets destroyed before you
can access the new information)

> though you may have to be like God to be able to do this or at least
> to come up with the complete information required to duplicate someone
> that was say cremated 1000 years ago.) This state of you is self
> existent. This fact about you can't be created by any God nor
> destroyed by even the universe ceasing to exist. It is a logically
> necessary fact that you can exist. Your existence proves this
> absoluely.

This is the concept of 'soul' right? I do exist, but only because my
brain and body exist (the brain seems more important, but it will
probably be possible to simulate the body, so my 'consciousness' won't
even realize it).

> It is conceivable, however, that this barrier can be crossed.
> Just as evolution has added all of our modes of sensing so that our
> mind is directly aware of them so that we can compare and contrast
> them we will surely some day be able to enhance our brain and add
> additional cortexes that experience other sensations. Once we
> discover what qualia are, we should be able to construct scanning
> devices that watch particular areas of the brain and determining when,
> say, a particular salty sensation is occuring. This information could
> then be transmitted to a brain augmented with a generic qualia
> producing device whereupon it produces the identical qualia in the
> consciousness of other brain. I call this "effing". One my say:
> "That isn't what salt tastes like to me!"

I think this is the most relevant part. I think I do understand what you
mean by effing now, but I don't think it will help finding out where
'consciousness' is. This will be quite interesting, for example you'll be
able to experience things exactly like other people, maybe even computers
- but it's still YOU who makes this experience, and it won't help you
prove another consciousness. It will also not help transferring your
consciousness. Mind merging could be possible, though.

> It's hard for us to imagine this since the conscious space in
> our brain is currently primitively very fixed, non expandable, and has
> only one point of view.

I don't think so. By certain substances, you can alter the chemistry in
your brain, which also changes your consciousness temporarily. If you
know how extreme some of these substances are, this gives you a vague
idea what 'uploading' means, I guess (it's even more different... a LOT
more different).

> So to make it more intuitive, think of the
> seeing part of your consciousness being dup1 and the hearing part of
> your consciousness being dup2. Together you can both hear what is
> going on in the "to" or copy location and see what is going on in the
> "from" or original location but you are, together, one conscious
> being. If the dup1 is to be destroyed, it would be like being
> temporarily blinded, but you wouldn't be dead. You would of course be
> able to reproduce the seeing part of your consciousness within dup2
> restoring your sight. Though part of you temporarily died, because of
> effing of consciousness all of you would not have died. This would
> mostly solve your intuitive objection to the idea through conscious
> continuity. Of course destruction of any part of you is always a
> problem and avoidance of such is always desirable if possible. But,
> if you are consciously spread across multiple platforms, are able to
> transfer data and memories between them, you will always know that you
> can regenerate the particular part that was destroyed in some other
> location or time if necessary or possible.

I don't think this really helps (at least it doesn't make it clear to me)

> (*1) If you insist on something mysterious or ghost like being
> included in this "stuff" that you are made of the argument still
> applies although at a slightly different level(*2). If one of you

I wish one could finally prove 'soul' - that would make it SO much
easier! If 'soul' was a not yet discovered energy, you could look
for ways to redirect that energy. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be

sorry for the long posting, I hope it showed some new aspects...