X-Message-Number: 11024
Date: Sun, 03 Jan 1999 18:27:56 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Importance of Identity

Thomas Donaldson, #11011, writes about the issue of identity,

>It may even remain important with full suspended animation, for one simple
>reason: if we do not die from aging, then we may well die from accidents.
>And those accidents may very easily occur in circumstances in which ....
>you guessed it, you are not reachable "soon enough" for suspended
>animation to assure your preservation. Yes, we'd live for much longer, but
>then just how we felt about our (semi-)ultimate end will very likely
>remain similar to how we feel now

In addition to this, though, I see identity and survival issues being
important even in a perfect world in which accidental destruction or loss of
information or structure never occurs. For one thing, there is an additional
"threat" which is simply, that life involves an ongoing process which could,
conceivably, make you so "different" over time that "you" of an earlier time
don't survive--someone else takes your place. This is a problem especially
for some today (Arthur C. Clarke comes to mind) and a stumbling block in
signing up for cryonics. There are other examples too of identity problems
not involving information loss, that today hinder some from cryonics. One,
that comes to me by rumor mill only, but I think worth repeating anyway,
involves a certain, very prominent scientist who thought cryonics might work
but refused it. Why? Because, in a future where everyone would presumably
have options to greatly increase their own talents, he would no longer be
"superman." Apparently, playing the role of god to lesser beings was so
important to his sense of identity that, without it, he'd rather be dead and
buried. (He now is.) I also found Bob Ettinger's comments, #11015, well put.

Mike Perry 

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