Re: The Copy Paradox

Thu, 6 Nov 1997 12:46:57 -0500

Anders Sandberg <> wrote:

=="Clemens Pittino" <> writes:
==> If you digitize your brain, you can copy it exactly. Who am I, if I would
==> let run my mind on 2 hosts ?
==Depends on your philosophy. It doesn't seem to be an
==observer-independent answer.
==One way of dealing with this is my identity calculus, see
==Most likely both host-mind systems would consider themselves to be you.

I considered this question myself and after reviewing Ander's identity calculus
paper I believe we have some of the same ideas. However, for those of you
unwilling or unable to navigate Ander's mathematical arguments, here's a more
simplistic rendering. Note: This is my own version which may or may not agree
with Ander's work in its entirety.

Given that a person's mind is uploaded then what you actually have is a
snapshot of that person, not the person itself. However, the person someone is
is the result of a process. The process is the person navigating through
his/her experiences in life. Those experiences, more importantly the reactions
the person formulates to those experiences, shape the person. The concept of
personal identity has been generally attributed to the individual person
because a more profound or articulate definition has not been needed.

When a person's mind is uploaded and then "copied" or "downloaded" to two
separate forms, you now have a situation almost entirely alien to human
experience. You now have two people with initially the same "mind" now able to
go off and have totally separate and different experiences. The result of this
incongruity of experiences between the two means two different people will
result, perhaps not vastly different people but if you then compared their
minds there would be inconsistencies.

The big question is if you were the person initially uploaded and subsequently
downloaded into two different copies, which one would you be after a year's
time? My view? It's not easily answered. If Copy A went to China and Copy B
went to New York City, odds are each would have vastly different day-today
experiences. Thus, these different experiences would influence different
aspects of the original mind (the one initially uploaded) in different ways.
What if Copy B experienced a hard life while trying to attend college in NYC
where it was exposed to the starkness of city life and maybe even violently
robbed or attacked while Copy A spent its time travelling the rural villages
of Mongolia and learning more of their culture. Copy B might emerge a ruder,
more paranoid, more pessimistic person while Copy A might emerge more tolerant
of people's differences and more benevolent.

Now, back to the original question, which copy is you? I think the problem
people have with this question is the word "You". We continue to follow that
"self-identity related to a single body" concept when thinking of words "You",
"I", "Me", etc. That concept is no longer tenable in this situation. The
answer in my opinion is that BOTH copies are "You". Copy A is what you would
be like after spending a year in NYC, Copy B is what you would be like after
spending a year touring Mongolia. Both experiences would appear to be equally
valid, meaning Copy A is not a "better" approximation of you and Copy B is.

Permutations: An interesting idea would be for a third copy of you to be made
using the original uploaded mind. This Copy C could then "interview" Copy A
and Copy B and determine which one he/she (Copy C that is) liked better. If
Copy C chose Copy A, then Copy C would have its mind "updated" with Copy A's
mind and Copy B could be "dealt with". I use the phrase "dealt with" because
determining the rights a copy has is going to be a very interesting issue for
the legal systems of the future. Is Copy B an experiment owned by Copy C to be
disposed of as Copy C wishes? Or does Copy B's existence as a human give it
certain sovereign rights independent of the original mind? Maybe I'll discuss
my thoughts on that at a later date.

Doug Bailey