[sl4] thought experiment : who's where

From: John McNamara (harlequin@novastar.org)
Date: Sat Dec 05 2009 - 05:29:43 MST

I've noticed a discussion deadlock between 2 different interpretations
of the "instant copy and destroy" style upload.
This is an attempt to explore that further by varying the experiment.

I'll be dropping the topic after this as I think it very unlikely to
happen anyway for reasons unrelated to what anyone thinks about it.

The "instant upload" thought experiment has appeared several times on
this list for a few reasons.
The most common I've noticed is as support of the hypothesis that an
uninformed uploaded mind could notice no difference if put in an
identical body, therefore they are "the same person" for all rational
considerations and therefore the same follows if they are uploaded
into a non-identical body as well. An identical body would of course
not be desirable in practice as it would offer exactly zero advantages
over the original body (ignoring teleportation).

i respectfully submit that weaknesses of previous experiments include
biases due to
the "blackbox" nature of the device, mind data in = mind data out
the small time and distance of the effect relative to human scale (ie
'instant' and only a few meters away)

consider this thought experiment
hypothesis 1 : that "selfness"/"me-ness"/"continuity of mind
existence" is an entirely cultural quality and cannot be rationally
proved OR disproved to exist in any specific case outside of a
cultural value context.

hypothesis 2 : that information (specifically including a 100% perfect
model of a specific sentient mind) has no existence separate of
matter+energy therefore it is subject to the same physical travel
restrictions as matter+energy.

I'm not sure what the current physics says about the possibility of
moving information from one particle to another without at least
briefly creating a copy, (any takers ?)

- - - - -

A billion years ago in the galaxy 'AG1026' that is just outside the
observable universe (from Earth) and causally disconnected from us,
lived a vast Jupiter brain named 'bob', whose hobby was to
pseudo-randomly design minds. It creates them based on rational base
designs and randomises the details. They are all stored as binary data
and are never 'run'.

One day it happens to create data perfectly identical to mind '2'. (see below)
The odds are of course laughable, but non-zero. It is a thought experiment.

in the year 2099 here on Earth...
[mind '1' housed in body 'A'] voluntarily enters an "instant copy and
destroy" style upload clinic.
The copy is not intended to be perfect, instead all organs but the CNS
will be upgraded.(hence the motivation to do this at all)
The CNS is always copied 100 %perfectly.
[mind '2' housed in body 'A'] is scanned and the observation signals
travel through the sensor wires into the device's memory cells where
they rest and can be non-destructively read and manipulated.
the mind changed from '1' to '2' because several minutes passed
between entering the clinic and the scanner activating.
exactly one Planck time later ..
[mind '2' housed in body 'B'] is created
exactly one Planck time later ..
the machine fails (1 in a 10billion chance) and completely destroys
[mind '2' housed in body 'A'] and [mind '2' housed in body 'B'] and

A billion years later in the galaxy 'AG1026' that is still outside the
observable universe (from Earth) and causally disconnected from us,
'bob' starts running the mind '2' dataset, it previously created
pseudo-randomly, in a nice VR that seems normal to it where it
marries, has kids, grows old and dies. At the point of death bob
simply stops the simulation but keeps the data and all past changes to
that data.

no other significant events occur and no information is hidden from
you as (god-like) observers of these events

- - - - -

what happened ?
Is there 1,2,3 or more 'self's in existence here ?

if 1 when did it die ?
did it die more than once ?

My interpretation is that there are 3 entirely separate 'self's.
As the scanner is designed to copy there are immediately 2 of
something when it does so.
It cannot destroy the original exactly 0 time after the copy operation
as that makes a nonsense of causality
AFAIK the Planck time is the shortest interval of time between two
causally related events.
It doesn't matter if all the bits of [mind '2' housed in body 'A'] are
copied and then destroyed in a single batch or binary bit by binary
bit, the result is the same.
If the device was designed to somehow freeze all activity and
physically move the body subatomic particle by subatomic particle from
one chamber to another, then I would allow that no copy had been made
and nothing significant destroyed. It would be teleportation though
rather than "copy and destroy" uploading.

So in summary, my POV
[mind '2' housed in body 'A'] is arranging a copy of themselves to be
'born' and then their own destruction.
both [mind '2' housed in body 'A'] and [mind '2' housed in body 'B']
die in an accident.
[mind '2' housed in body 'B']'s lifespan from 'birth' to death is only
one Planck time (exactly enough time for every sub-atomic particle to
make the least possible action that is greater than "no action".
The fact that [mind '2' in 'AG1026'] is the same as the others is mere

I'm much more interested in hearing your interpretations.

Best Regards
John Mc Namara

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