Re: Identity and becoming a Great Old One

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Thu Jan 26 2006 - 17:23:53 MST

Brett Paatsch wrote:
> Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:
>> What difference does it make if it is 10^40 planck increments between
>> when your neurons fire, or 10^53 planck increments between your
>> cryonic suspension and revival?
> Are *you* suggesting that it makes no difference? A brain contains a
> *lot* of neurons (perhaps not as many as 10^13 though I'd have
> to look that up) and they don't all fire together.

It does make no difference. If your 10^14 synapses (10^11 neurons) fire
two hundred times per second in absolutely perfect unsynchrony, there
must be at least 10^27 planck intervals between the arbitrary time
assigned to each firing. 5 x 10^-44 planck intervals = 1 second.

Even calcium ions entering and exiting the neural fiber move far more
slowly than elementary physical timescales, the dance of quarks.

If you permit that neural firings should stretch over vast periods of
elementary time, why should not we regard a suspended cryonics patient
as stretched out over an only slightly longer period of time?

The fallacy is that you are calling upon your human-scale perspective on
time flow to decide what is "stopped" and therefore dead, and what is
"moving" and therefore alive. Which makes around as much sense as
saying that anything smaller than a millimeter is "too small" to be
alive. What matters is continuity of causality, whether over a
picosecond or an eon.

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky                
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:55 MDT