Re: [sl4] Re: Uploads coming first would be good, right?

From: Charles Hixson (
Date: Mon Mar 02 2009 - 10:11:27 MST

Johnicholas Hines wrote:
> On Mon, Mar 2, 2009 at 6:18 AM, Stathis Papaioannou <> wrote:
>> 2009/3/2 Matt Mahoney <> wrote:
>>> The teleportation industry might [...]
>> Subjectively you have a 1/2 chance of suffering when faced
>> non-destructive teleportation with painful killing of the original. [...]
> In an attempt to take this conversation in a different direction than
> we have gone in before, let us talk about entities. Each entity in
> this list has a claim to be you, but there are other reasons to say
> that the entity is not you. You could add additional features to each
> of these scenarios to transform them into a continuum between
> more-plausibly-you and less-plausibly you.
> Note: This list is in no particular order.
> 1. Your tomorrow self after going to sleep tonight ("sleep is death").
> 2. Your self after surgery on your heart that requires stopping your
> heart ("death").
> 3. Your self after many of the atoms in your body have been replaced,
> via normal living.
> 4. Your self after a radical atom-flushing treatment replaces all of
> the atoms in your body.
> 5. Your self after a stroke that causes you to change in knowledge or emotions.
> 6. Your clone, grown from your DNA.
> 7. Your self after a genome-editing virus transforms you into
> (technically) a different species - mutually infertile with unedited
> humans, but otherwise identical.
> 8. Your life's work, a body of text that might be republished and
> reread by college students for centuries.
> 9. Your children.
> 10. A high-quality simulation of you.
> 11. Your self after surgery on your brain to change your personality.
> 12. All of your future light cone.
> My point is that we ACTIVELY DECIDE which future entities fit into our
> utility functions in the role of "my future self". There isn't a
> bright line labeled "self" in the world - it's all atoms underneath.
> Johnicholas
Good point. I've been choosing "12. All of your future light cone."
implicitly, but it's good to make it explicit. (Actually, I'd never
figured out exactly what I was intuitively calling "me", but 12 captures
it rather nicely. The only problem has to do with things like detached
limbs, etc. Once I lose a hand or arm or whatever, I no longer see it
as part of "me". Probably if a prosthetic were attached I *would* soon
see it as a part of "me". And clearly the atoms of my future body
aren't necessarily currently within my light-cone, and the atoms that
leave my body will no longer be a part of "me". So "12. All of your
future light cone." is an over-inclusive statement. Maybe

"13. All of my (current) future light cone that has the potential to
remember being me."

Even that's a bit vague. I don't consider my corpse to be "me". "Me"
is associated with physical continuity, plus connected memories. And I
guess I can't really give a satisfactory definition. Would I consider
someone who had my memories teleported into their mind via non-classical
processes (i.e., outside my light-cone) to be me? If I were that person
I would, but I don't know what the original "me" would think. And what
if the person just ended up with a part of my memories? Or what if
there were merely the result of a random rearrangement? In each case
the person with the memories would consider themselves to be "me", but I
have my doubts as to whether the self who descended via classical
processes would consider them so.

OTOH, I see "me" as basically an artifact of memory. When I remember
myself at an earlier age, I don't doubt that it's me. So, to an extent,
the key feature is a connected chain of memories. After a twinning
process, at first the "twin" will be closer to "me" than anything
besides me that I could ever conceive of. And it will always be closer
to me than a brother or sister. (There is, of course, no guarantee that
I'll like him. At first talking would be a disaster. But
understanding would run VERY deep.)

If some twinning process becomes feasible, we'll need to develop a
vocabulary to allow one to express how close to "me" someone is. But
memories keep accumulating, so by the time that one is twice one's
current age at time of twinning, there will be VERY significant
differences. But they'll be built on a deep foundation that's
identical, which should make understanding much easier.

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