X-Message-Number: 11313
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: To Dave Pizer and Mike Perry: do you REALLY want Lucy on your hands?
Date: Wed, 24 Feb 1999 23:37:35 +1100 (EST)

Hi everyone!

Well, I seem to have encountered some argument.

To Dave Pizer: The fundamental problem about resurrecting EVERYONE, of
course, is whether or not it will ever be possible in the first place.
As I've said, I have a more restrictive idea than that of Mike Perry as
to just whom might be truly resurrected (as compared to simply recreating
a version which might or might not be like the original).

But supposing that we COULD do that, there is another problem. Lucy was
not a person in the current sense. She was an APE of a species which
has now both vanished and become human (after hundreds of thousands of 
years). When we get to such ancestors, we also reach species with whom
we (those living now) have little in common and no serious interest in
going further --- except as specimens for museums.

Moreover, if we were to resurrect (say) homo habilis or some other early
ancestor, we would have an ape-person who would have to develop a great
deal (by evolution, a looong time) before it could even conceive of means
to resurrect ITS ancestors. Sure, we could cause that development by our
own intervention, but if so the desires and abilities of such creatures
will not have come from them but from our own ideas. That is, an almost
artificial being: artificial in its abilities and its feelings. And so we
would not have really resurrected Lucy at all. I find it hard to see the
point of such an exercise.

As for emotional ties (this is for Mike, too) it's certainly true that I
might acquire emotional ties to a resurrected Lucy --- not as another
human being but as an unusually intelligent animal. I just don't see that
as a good reason to try to resurrect Lucy. (Incidentally, when I was in 
grad school I actually had a pet monkey, Monkey. She was a South American
woolly monkey, with lots of fur and a prehensile tail. She was also
clearly more intelligent than a cat or a dog --- and a lot of trouble
because of that. I would have taken her to Australia if I could, but
getting animals into Australia is very expensive, and so with regret I
found her another owner. Yes, I can form emotional attachments to such
animals... but that still doesn't mean that I want to resurrect Lucy).

To Mike: To say that we are all quantum devices because our atoms follow
the laws of quantum mechanics does not strike me as a very effective
argument. Here is how you can find that out for yourself: write to any
one of the physicists who are busily working on computers using quantum
phenomena and explain your argument to THEM. Some will (for mysterious
quantum reasons) fail to reply to your enquiry. Some may well reply with
a citation of their own and others work, together with reprints, and
ask you to read it. And some will suggest some elementary books on 
quantum mechanics for you to read first.

Given the likelihood that we live in a literally infinite universe, plus
the plain fact that our neurons (and hence our brain) acts nonlinearly,
it seems to me very unlikely that we can be considered, theoretically,
as creatures fully expressible by digital means. Sure, just as we try to
predict the weather with computers, we can certainly try to express a
person (rather more unpredictable and changeable than the weather,
actually) digitally. And we'll have about as much success. The basic
problem is that the differential (or difference) equations do not 
converge to any solution as time passes. They come close for a while and
then diverge dramatically.

			Best and long long life to all,

				Thomas Donaldson

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