The Copy Paradox

John K Clark (
Thu, 13 Nov 1997 11:13:47 -0800 (PST)


On Thu, 13 Nov 1997 Harvey Newstrom <> Wrote:

>I already have a genetic copy. He is not a clone, but a twin. If
>someone wanted to shoot me in the head, I would violently oppose
>this plan.

Anyone would oppose that plan because a genetic copy is not nearly good
enough, even an exact copy made an hour ago would not do. It's a matter of
taste but personally I wouldn't be happy unless the copy was made right now.
How long is now? For human beings about a second or two.

>The continued existance of my "copy" does not make me feel
>comfortable with my death.

Of course not, but the point is you wouldn't be dead, you wouldn't even know
something out of the ordinary had happened.

>Even if you recorded my exact brain state, and reset his brain to
>that exact configuration, I would still not want to die.

How do you know that this did not already happen yesterday at 9:32am ?
How do you know it doesn't happen a thousand times a second?
What possible difference would it make to your life if it did?

>I just still desire to continue experiencing life.

Absolutely, but "you" are not a few hundred pounds of protoplasm, you are the
way matter reacts when it is organized in a specific complex way. You are not
a noun, you are an adjective.

>Does anyone know what is different between my understanding and that
>of those who would be willing to die if there was a copy made of

I don't want to die under any circumstances, but to me dying means having a
last thought, a last experience, if I keep having them then I'm not dead.
I don't care what happens to the carbon atoms in my body, nothing special
about them, they're all identical and get recycled all the time anyway.

John K Clark

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