Re: Definition of survival

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Thu Apr 17 2008 - 21:29:48 MDT

Matt writes

> --- John K Clark <> wrote:
>> Matt Mahoney"
>> > "survive" isn't a well defined term in a post-singularity world.

There was a time when temperature was not a well defined
concept. But those who would have claimed that it would
someday have an objective meaning were proven right.
There is no reason that *consciousness* and *survival*
cannot become much better understood.

>> I don't care, definitions are of trivial importance, and it's foolish to
>> ask for a definition of "definition", if you already know you don't need
>> to ask and if you don't then the question makes no sense. To hell with
>> definitions, examples rule!
> For example, your willingness to step into a teleportation booth and die,
> provided that an exact copy of you is made at the same instant, but not if it
> is made 10 seconds earlier.

Yeah, I don't expect to learn why John is so squeamish on the matter.
But what's your view? Have you said? Specifically, how much would
you have to be paid to lose 10 seconds', 10 hours', 10 days', etc., memories?

> On close analysis, our logic leads us to absurdities such as the teleportation
> example.

Again, you assume that everyone knows what you're talking about.
I hope you can be more explicit from now on. There is nothing
absurd about teleportation in principle, and after we're uploaded
one might routinely teleport from one machine to another, even
if the other is on another planet.

> If consciousness resides in the brain, and the brain is a computer,
> then what we want to preserve must be its memories and function.

I totally agree.

> But if your memories were altered, you would not know the difference.
> If your goals were altered, you would not want them changed back to
> what they were.

So what? Many bad things could happen to me of which I was unaware.
Due to identity theft or something, I may have lost a lot of money today,
or my mother might've died. But better---and much more precisely---
I might have today forgotten all the rudimentary German and French I
once knew. So, just as one could be (harmfully) diminshed by losses
like these (and not be aware of it), so could one be harmed by having
one's memories changed.

You may ask, "why does memory change harm one?". The answer
is, "because you could slowly be turned into someone else" by a
series of shifts that would be easy to describe. Then, eventually,
there wouldn't be a you, only two of that other person. You would
be dead, and that brings us full circle to being greatly harmed,
(supposing your life is worth living).

> So what is it really that you want to preserve?

There's no doubt of it: memories and runtime.


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