X-Message-Number: 11081
Date: Tue, 12 Jan 1999 13:07:45 -0500
From: "Raphael T. Haftka" <>
Subject: Do we need protection from ourselves?

I was glad to see the lively discussion of identity, because this is an
important issue. Personally I am not concerned so much with uploading and
copies. These are issues that are likely to be resolved in the future, and
we do not need to take any immediate action concerning them. 

However, I think that most of us are engaged unwittingly in a slow suicide,
and the question of identity is crucial to understanding that.

For me memories are an important component of identity. If I will be
resurrected in the future without any shared memories of my present self, I
will regard this as a rather disappointing kind of survival. Now here is
the problem:

If I died today and was resurrected with only about 10 percent of my
memories I would consider it to be only a partial survival, with `partial'
being here on the low side. For those who like (as I do) Joe Strout's fuzzy
logic terminology, I would have survived with a low membership function.

Now, I hope to live for many more years, and then be frozen and
resurrected. However, based on my past experience, I expect that by that
time I would have forgotten 90 percent of my present memories. Certainly,
now at age 55, I remember only about 10% of what I remembered when I was
15. For example, I have forgotten the names and faces of 95% of the
children that went with me to grade school. So for my present self, the
prospective results of successful cryonics suspension if I live to, say 90,
are still rather depressing. Note that I expect the results to be very good
from the standpoint of my future 90-year old self!

This is still infinitely better than rotting, but cryonicists may want to
consider taking measures to preserve memories. Evolution conditioned us to
remember things that are useful for our future. It did not condition us to
want to remember the past for the purpose of preserving our past
identities. So I think that we tend to be dismissive about most past memories.

I am sure that many of you think that all of these memories are available
in my brain, just not accessible now, but I am not so sure. I have read
often about the facility of implanting false memories in people, and I am
not sure that forgotten memories will be easy to resurrect even with enough
advances in technology.

So I hope that somebody has some good ideas on how we should go about
protecting ourselves from our tendency to make our present identity evanesce.

Rafi Haftka
Raphael (Rafi) Haftka				
University of Florida				phone:352-392-9595
Department of Aerospace Engineering,		fax: -7303
Mechanics and Engineering Science		http://www.aero.ufl.edu/~haftka
Gainesville, FL 32611
Check the web page of the International Society of Structural and
Optimization at http://www.aero.ufl.edu/~issmo for details of the next
MicroAV competition as well as the next ISSMO Congress in Buffalo, May 17-21

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