Re: Uploading, info theory, and threads of consciousness

Hal Finney (
Sat, 2 Nov 1996 19:55:57 -0800 (PST)

From: Damien Broderick <>
> I still find this kind of retort utterly baffling, even though it's
> undeniable that one goes happily into sleep (or perhaps less happily into
> medical unconsciousness) expecting that the `reconstituted' self that later
> wakes is continuous with the present person. And of course the only reason
> for having one's head frozen at death is the conviction that a revived or
> uploaded brain will be just as much `me' as `I' am after a snooze.

Maybe we should think harder about whether our identity is preserved
across sleep. This break in the stream of consciousness looks pretty
complete to me. Many young children go through a phase where they are
afraid to fall asleep. Perhaps some fear the loss of consciousness and
are not confident about still being alive when someone with their
memories awakens the next morning.

Imagine a race which didn't sleep, and which viewed any interruption in
the stream of consciousness with the same horror that the upload
skeptics here feel about destructive uploading. How could you convince
them that your identity was in fact preserved across sleep, that the
entire human race isn't committing (involuntary) suicide every night,
with new people starting each morning under the mere illusion that they
had survived the night?

Try to imagine that you, yourself, do die every night, and awaken each
morning as a new person, with only memories to link you to the person you
were before? Is this possible? How will it be different when someone with
your memories awakens as an upload?