Re: evolution and "I"

Anders Sandberg (
Fri, 30 Aug 1996 22:44:14 +0200 (MET DST)

On Fri, 30 Aug 1996, Michael Wiik wrote:

> Moravec writes (in _Mind Children_) about where the seat of identity
> is located. He points out that as long as your brain is intact, you can
> lose limbs and still feel you are the same person. I think this is an
> illusion caused by shared memory with the person you were previously.

The main problem in the identity debate is that it might be that identity
doesn't exist outside of our minds; it is a relatively arbitrary concept
which works well in everyday life, but breaks down in its "classic" form
as we nears the edges of life.

The shared memory example is relevant; identity as it is commonly used
seems to not be preserved in time reversal. All past selves that I can
remember being are seen as me, but the potential future selves that I
might be are not me - yet. So from a posthuman upload's view, it might be
the same being who once was flesh and blood (or even the same beings who
eventually merged into it). But this is just one way of seeing it.

> Personally, I'm a different person after breakfast than before. I change
> all the time, as I suspect everyone else does too. Given advanced
> technology, I'd change myself even further. Maybe if you edit yourself
> only a little each day you can keep the illusion of continuous
> existence.

"I seem to be a verb" or as I recently wrote

I am not an indivudual.
An atom with a shining gnostic nucleus.
I am a wind, a verb, a process
That evolves and changes by my own rules.

> I guess it comes down to my belief that the concept of identity will
> change considerably for transhumans and posthumans. Once you start
> spinning off replicants ("partials" in Greg Bear's lingo from Eon),
> re-integrating these later on, mixing memories with those of other
> people, editing your core beliefs, etc, things will get so hairy that
> I doubt we can even think intelligently about what the results will be.
> (But please try! It's of intense interest to me! :)

I think we will develop new terms to deal with it. The current identity
concept is so riddled with assumptions that we should scrap it, like "to
be" is scrapped in E-prime. Maybe we should use E-bis to mean English
without "to be" and "I"?

Anders Sandberg Towards Ascension!
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y