X-Message-Number: 11072
Date: Mon, 11 Jan 1999 17:59:53 -0500
From: Brook Norton <>
Subject: Identity, multiverse, Turing

Here's my two cents on identity, inspired by recent comments by Strout and
Ettinger....  I agree with Strout  that identical copies are as good as
the original in every way.  Given more time and knowledge and convincing I
think it is likely that a beam-me-up machine would be safe to use.  Of
course, if copies were made they would become more and more individual as

their differing experiences accumulated.  Another aspects of identity that
seem consistent is that we are a collection of memories, reflexes,
hormones, etc. all related to a brain mechanism (self-circuit) that
produces conciousness.  I see that our identity is fuzzy.  If an accident

leaves my brain damaged, I can survive from 0 to 99%.  It is not as simple
as "me", or "not me".  A twin would be, say, 5% me, and I, 5% him. If
another person and I witness the same event, we are now .0001% the same
person because of the similar imprints on our brains.  Survival is no more
than a word of convenience to describe how much we have changed over time.

Survival is just a measure of change.  If John Doe's total set of
characteristics (body, memories, conciousness) changes by 20% in 5 years,

then he has survived 80% in 5 years.  I don't see any room for an
immutable self that travels through time and "survives" in some way while
our bodies and minds evolve.  If there is no immutable self, I believe
this would have implications on Ettinger's theories of behavior regarding
what we "ought" 

to want.  The above comments seem self consistent.  Ettinger points out
that duplicates in different times would be considered the same person.  

This seems to work out ok.  Yes, they are the same person, by definition,

since all their characteristics are the same.  No, they do not share any
special connection with each other because the "immutable self" traveller

does not exist. They are separate instances of the same person. Therefore,
they need not try to maximize their total feel-good.  They could simply
reflect and say "hey, isn't it interesting that I have duplicates in time"
and then go about their business.  I'm not entrenched in the above
philosophy.  I realize that new information, especially about quantum
mechanics and time could change my perception of these issues.  But for
now, the above philosophy seems the most likely to me.  

Thoughts about quantum mechanics (QM) and the multiverse...  I just read
"The Fabric of Reality" by David Deutsch which gives a layman's
explanation of the multiverse.  I also have read consistent comments by
others that describe the multiverse as a place where all possible "courses
of history" actually occur.  For instance, in one universe you see a knife
and kill yourself.  In another universe you see the knife and butter your

This doesn't make sense.  The only scientific claim for a multiverse is
that QM events occur statistically spread over several universes.  If a
photon can logically traverse either left or right, then the universe
splits.  In one universe the photon goes left, in the other universe it
goes right.  Why this is extrapolated to macro events like buttering your

bread I don't know.  If  you see the knife, and a photon in your brain
goes left instead of right, you still butter bread either way because you
are hungry and happy.  A single photon doesn't change that and so doesn't
affect your decision.  Yeah, maybe the QM effects add up over years and it
causes you to do something differently eventually but propagation from QM

to macro actions would take a long time.  You would butter your bread in
ALL universes that were identical up to the point when you spotted the
knife.  Any differences in macro events would be extraordinarily small and
infrequent as opposed the commonly described "all routes are taken"
vision.  The universe as commonly described by multiverse proponents seems
much too divergent than seems possible to me.  

Regarding the Turing machine.... I'm from the school of thought that the
Turing test is not significant.  I'm perplexed why it receives plausible
review on Cryonet.  If it communicates like a human it must be conscious?

The problems with this seem fatal, fairly straight forward, and
insurmountable.  Take for example a random letter generator.  Suppose it
spits out letters that form a convincing dialogue with you.  The random
letter generator is not conscious and so the Turing test theory is false.


Brook Norton  

Rate This Message: http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/rate.cgi?msg=11072