On copies and transcendents (was re: Why is Friendliness sacrosanct)

From: Rafal Smigrodzki (rms2g@virginia.edu)
Date: Mon Aug 26 2002 - 15:03:33 MDT

Michael Roy Ames wrote regarding the path to transhumanity:

Now this might sound like a long journey, and a lot of hassle to you - to go
through many intermediate stages in order to get to the same destination I
could have got to in one step - but I *want* the journey. I *want* the
choices. If you want to 'put your faith' in an SI that you cannot
understand... then you may have that opportunity. I do not want to do that.


This is not a paradox. This is life. You cannot grow up before you grow
up. As an analogy: I have made many decisions in my past life, that I would
make differently if I had my current knowledge/understanding... but my 17
year old self would definitely not want his brain instantly upgraded to my
37 year old self. I would have missed 20 years of growing and learning...
how sad, how empty! Some others may feel differently :) That okay.

### I see some interesting analogies between the ideas you use here and the
perennial copy/identity debate. As you surely know, there are two main camps
in that tussle - the continuists and the structuralists. The former perceive
only objects spatiotemporally continuous with their present physical
manifestation to be "self". A perfect copy produced tomorrow from a snapshot
of their cognition is not self. They don't want to be instantaneously copied
and transmitted (as a stream of bits) to a new planet and faraway future
even if the Sun was going red dwarf on them right now, because there is no
"continuity". The structuralists (like me) perceive any objects
substantially identical to my present abode (a-body :-)) to be parts of
self, even if there is no bodily continuity.

To demand to have all intermediate steps explained and to accept/physically
experience them your on your way to transcension is a continuist position.
You reject a transhuman progeny if you know ve is the product of the FAI
directly molding your neural pathways, even if the outcome is the same as
what you might have reached the hard way, all the way down to implanted

The structuralist position would be to define allowable neural
transformations and accept the FAI's judgment in their implementation. Of
course, not all such transformations are compatible with our goal systems -
e.g. ripping out all your memories and substituting something else would be
rejected by almost all humans, since this would be a direct contradiction of
the prime directives of our inborn self definition /self preservation
circuitry. In fact, most of us would feel justified in seeing it as proof of
massive FoF. Also, we tend to take a very dim view of mind control - in the
ancestral environment those who let themselves be too easily controlled
didn't make it to maturity.

I must say my own position is somewhat ambivalent - although I can conceive
of the FAI as bereft of any of the nasty tendencies that could make psychic
engineering done by humans a likely nightmare, I still would prefer
conscious continuity over instantaneous transition. Yet, if we were under
dire attack by some evil and powerful entities and the only option of
preserving my (however tenuously the word "my" were to apply here) upload's
existence was the Big Jump, I'd ask the FAI to help me take it.


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