X-Message-Number: 14128
Date: Thu, 20 Jul 2000 11:34:51 EDT
Subject: continuity, distinguishability etc

Scott Badger suggests our sense of continuity may be the main feature or 
criterion of survival. Of course one old problem, in addition to others he 
notes, is that any "sense" (other than qualia) may be an illusion. 

Arthur Clarke reportedly said he turned down cryonics because "We are 
different people every 10 years or so anyway." Obviously, the sense of 
"sufficient" continuity varies widely with individuals.

If we "survive," then in the remote future we will probably have scarcely 
anything in common with our present selves. But if the self circuit is 
time-binding, then your present self spans a non-zero time interval (and if 
time is quantized, more than one chronon). Thus the "selves" in your 
continuer sequence overlap, and there is logic (as well as instinct) in your 
concern for your future selves. Your concern, of course, will be most intense 
for those future selves closest to you in time, other things equal--but 
concern also depends on the nature or quality of the goals involved, so you 
could still have substantial interest in broad-brush goals for the far future.
Mike Perry--and many scientists, prominently including Frank Tipler--believe 
that "indistinguishable" systems are identical in every meaningful way. In 
the least controversial case, they point out, two atoms of the same kind, in 
the same quantum state, are indistinguishable, even in principle, hence must 
not have separate identities. 

Again I take issue with this. "Same quantum state" can be a tricky and 
misleading label. If (say) two atoms are widely separated in space, then they 
ARE distinguishable both in principle and in practice. (Look at a track in a 
cloud chamber.) (In addition, of course, a FULL designation of "quantum 
state" for any system is beyond our current knowledge, and might even have to 
account for the complete history of the cosmos, if interacting systems remain 

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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