Re: There's more to me than memories...

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Sat Mar 15 2008 - 13:54:27 MDT

Slawek writes

> Lee:
>> I think so. Suppose that people are different from each other
>> because of specific characteristics, brain structures, and so
>> on (and not because their soul has a different #ID-num).
> Yes, I agree with the assumption that people are different.
> I disagree with why they are different.

Sorry for proceeding so slowly and carefully, but our differences
seem profound, and the chance for miscommunication very great.

>> Suppose further that in general people don't want to become
>> much more like someone else than like themselves; specifically,
>> person X does not want to lose what makes him X and thus
>> become, say, his friend Max (person Y).
> Let's focus on this because this is where you are assuming what
> I'm asking you to explain. Why is it important to be *like*
> something? As before, concept of "survival" cannot be used
> in the explanation.

Do you want to be "like" Brittany Spears and have large tits? Do
you want to be "like" a Nazi war criminal who remembers joyfully
working "subhumans" to death (even though, naturally, you would
not enjoy the recollections---they might even give you nightmares).

I haven't answered your last question. I sort of have to throw up
my hands. I cannot explain why you don't want to be like certain
deformed people who have two heads, and I can't explain why
you don't want to be "like" a rodent. We have to start somewhere,

>> If you got all of Lee Corbin's memories and retained none of
>> Slawek's then would you (on your idea of what you "is") behave
>> more like Lee or more like Slawek? Specifically, what if I
>> credibly offer to pay you $100,000,000 to let your memories
>> be entirely replaced by mine. Would you take the deal?
> Yes, but under one condition.

I was afraid of that.

> You couldn't erase or alter my views on survival. This would prevent
> you from easily convincing this now rich mind instance, formerly
> labeled "Slawek," from giving back your money and shutting down
> what you perceive as a worthless copy without any resistance.
> Nice try, Lee. You are evil. ;-)

I am not evil! :-) That mere condition is of comparatively trivial
importance. So my new instance is pretty selfish about his $100M
won't share for some unknown reason. Fine.

> Lee:
>> All I can say is "wow!". Hmm. Would you settle, say, for $25,000
>> in *cash*? I could use the New Jersey runtime.
> I get the feeling that, after I told you my survival is not attached to my
> memories, you're immediately jumping to wrong conclusion that
> memories must be cheap or even worthless. Absolutely not. The
> point is that personal memories are precious, but their loss/replacement
> doesn't kill me (just like some loss/replacement of atoms doesn't kill me).
> I compared memories to clothes before and I think it's a pretty good
> analogy. Or let's try jewelry. It's very expensive and can have a huge
> sentimental value for people, yet its loss doesn't kill the owner. I view
> memories in a similar way. They do not define my existence even though
> they're worth much more than $25K. :-)

But your memories are worth *only* sentimental value, and have nothing
else to do with your identity. Now if I were truly evil, I would take you
at your word and say "Well, Slawek may be right or I might be right",
and then when I got rich enough I'd do it: plant all the Lee Corbin
memories for some adequately large monetary compensation to my
new selfish duplicate. (On my usage of words.) Of course I don't want
to pin you down to an exact figure (that would be stupid), but could you
give me the correct half-order magnitude of money you'd need? $50,000?
$100,000? $300,000? $1,000,000? Please be as honest as you can,
of course, since this is strictly hypothetical and you have to remember that
by my lights I would be killing you, an utterly unacceptable act.

> (I'm pretty sure that in the future, you'll be able to "purchase" and download very
> cool memories from virtual "stores" (and that's even before your inevitable and
> desirable transformation into a completely different/alien psychological construct).
> These memories will be at least 100 times more vivid, meaningful and fun than your
> old memories and you'll want to remember them. After you get them, you won't even
> bother accessing the old, boring ones.

I will always access my old memories, and frequently, so long as I'm me,
by God. Your scenario faintly brings up the oft-discussed possibility of
changing so much that (in my view) I have evolved into someone else.

>>> There *are* other things I can be attached to, you know.
>> Like what?
> Before an answer could make sense I would have to disengage two gears currently
> fully meshed and rotating at a high speed in your mind.

In *my* mind? I just asked you a straightforward question. Feel free
to explain your answers afterwards.

> There's a lot of inertia I'm working against here. :-) The first gear is called
> "personal memories" that happily engages the second gear called "survival".
> Before a replacement gear can engage "survival" gear, first I have to
> disengage "personal memories" from "survival"

You need do nothing of the kind. Just answer the bloody question!

> by getting to the core of why memories are important or why "being like"
> something is important. After you'll see that this core is hollow,
> it should be easier to describe an alternative core that isn't so hollow.

Yass, like "Lee, you wouldn't understand my deep "things" that I
would be attached to, you're understanding at this point is still
too shallow." Go ahead. Mention them those things. You never
can tell. I just want to understand what you're attached to since
it's not your atoms and not your memories. But, pray, don't react
to this *last* question unless you have answered the simple, earlier
one, or more satisfactorily explained why it is not possible for you
to answer.

> Yeah, so what does that tell you about importance of runtime vs. memories? You
> could have had all your memories intact forever and yet you didn't choose this
> option. Interesting.

As heaven is my witness, I have never in the last 40 years dismissed
what today I call runtime or processing! As you say, the memories
without any possibility whatsoever in all the future history of the universe
getting runtime are totally worthless to me. I have said that again and
again, I'm pretty sure.

>>> Option 2) In 1 minute all your personal memories will be completely erased
>>> from your brain, but, other than that, this brain will function just like any
>>> other healthy brain that's able to form and retain new personal memories and
>>> remember all the general knowledge acquired throughout the brain's life,
>>> like being able to speak, read and write English, do math, etc. However,
>>> this brain will not remember its name, its opinions, its family and friends,
>>> its tastes, where it's located, none of that personal stuff.
>> Option 2 is only slightly preferable because I'm still a bit of an idealist,
>> and think that it's better for some mystery person (whoever he is) to
>> exist than not exist. But alas, for me, selfishly? To me, I'm dead as
>> a doornail either way.
> If you're dead, then who is this new person in the 2nd option?

He's just some clown with total, irreversible amnesia. I hope you
don't demand that I give him a name or something.

> Should he continue to bear Lee Corbin label or continue to have an
> access to Lee Corbin's bank account?

No. My relatives should inherit my savings, and it doesn't matter,
except for medical records, I suppose, what they call the thing.

> When Ronald Reagan died, nobody questioned it was Ronald Reagan
> who died, and not some John Doe. If people thought he was John Doe,
> would cable news stations have shown 3-4-hour live coverage from his
> funeral?

Oh, you are referring to Reagan's amnesia. People close to him said
that he had died bit by bit in the preceding months or years. Which
makes perfect sense, given what we know. What was being celebrated
was his whole life and his whole record, as you know. His deanimation was
just a convenient and very traditional point at which to "celebrate" his passing.

> I would still be interested in people answering these even though the
> bigger point to be made here is that polls are a poor way of determining
> whether something is true or correct.

Agreed. Otherwise I wouldn't spend a moment more debating you
about this.


P.S. Sorry for losing my temper back there, but this exasperated me quite
a bit more than usual for some reason.

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