Re: [sl4] Uploading

From: Stuart Armstrong (
Date: Fri Dec 04 2009 - 04:01:49 MST

>> In other words, the original does have a special status, until we
>> become certain that the copying procedure is near-perfect.
> Well sure, but mundane issues like blown fuses in the matter duplicating
> machine have no place in a thought experiment.

They do have a strong place here. We have three facts:
1) Copying is likely to be identical to the original. But there is a
very small possibility that this is impossible, and an much larger
possibility that the copy will not be identical to the original for
the copying procedures we will use in the forseeable future.
2) The standard model we have of continuing consciousness is someone
continuing their life normally, whithout being destroyed or suddenly
appearing in a different place through copying.
3) These thought experiments should tell us something about how to
react if copying procedures become available.

So the moral of this seems to be "use the original as the gold
standard until we are certain copying procedures are perfect, then
treate the two indistinguishably".

But, on another note, are you adicted to arguing? I agree with
virtually everything you say about copies. Everything. I add two
- one on imperfect copies
- the other (a very old one, a few years back) on the fact that people
store some of their identity in external sources, such as friends,
family, income, jobs and legal status. Hence once copied, though the
pair (original and copy) are indistinguishable from EACH OTHER, they
are no longer exactly the same person as the pre-copied individual,
unless the external sources of identity were duplicated as well.

But these are minor caveats, affecting the conclusion very little. Yet
you act as if you have to demolish them; as if any caveat to the
identity of the set (pre-copy, original, copy) means that you suddenly
have to start believing in souls and reciting the Shahadah over the
copying machine while the priest prepares a batismal font to welcome
the copy into the congregation of the ensouled.


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