Identity and becoming a Great Old One

From: Russell Wallace (
Date: Thu Jan 26 2006 - 10:04:20 MST

The thread view (identity is a verb, a continuing thread of consciousness)
and the pattern view (identity is an adjective; as John Clark put it, "I am
the way matter behaves when it is organized in a Johnclarkian way") give the
same results most of the time; the one scenario that always gets adherents
of the two arguing with each other is destructive scan uploading (fine by
the pattern view, semelparous suicide by the identity view). (Happily,
gradual uploading is a potential way around this problem for the thread

Another scenario in which the two views might give different results is the
wish expressed by some transhumanists that can be summarized as "when I grow
up I want to be a Great Old One"; that is, over the next while - say, a
million subjective years - they want to continually modify and augment
themselves such that the result will be, as they see it, as far beyond the
original as the original was beyond an amoeba. (I don't personally accept
the analogy even given the premises, but it gets the point across nicely
enough that I did happily make use of it for science fiction purposes.)

To me, as a subscriber to the pattern view, this doesn't make sense because
said entity wouldn't be me anymore, so it would be a form of suicide; one
could still regard the future existence of such an entity as a cool thing,
but why would one have a desire to use oneself in particular as a seed/raw

But it occurs to me that it makes perfect sense from the thread viewpoint;
with appropriate care (don't discard so much that the result, while
incredibly intelligent, no longer has any feeling or awareness so that it
isn't anyone, etc) a huge change could be done as a series of incremental
steps, each small enough that the thread of consciousness was unbroken; so a
subscriber to this view could reasonably believe a Great Old One _would_ be
them, if it came into existence by the right path.

One should then desire to follow this path if and only if one believes
gradual uploading is better than destructive scan uploading. I'm curious as
to how many positive and negative examples of this theory there are?

(Meta: This is an SL3-4 topic, which people on the SL4 list have been
unhappy about the shortage of lately; it's also I believe on-topic for
extropy-chat, and is something of a followup to a previous (lower SL)
message I posted there, so it seems appropriate for both lists; if the
moderators of one or both lists disagree, or if crossposting like this isn't
the right way to go about it, please let me know.)

- Russell

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