X-Message-Number: 14142
Date: Sat, 22 Jul 2000 18:36:58 EDT
Subject: more quickies on survival

1. Thomas Donaldson asks why an archived tape would help a patient recover 
his identity, and whether someone else listening to your tape would become 
you [in part]. "Identity is not simply knowledge of facts."

The brief answer is that information "read into" the brain of a patient, if 
it is correct, and in the correct biological form, and replaces missing 
information, then it certainly could help integrate and restore the patient's 
persona. It could not do the same for someone else, because it wouldn't fit.  

2. Brook Norton tends to think "you" exist only in the moment (a bit like a 
single frame on a roll of movie film), but is nevertheless willing to live 
with this condition. That is a rare and brave position, and might even be 
correct. But I cannot emphasize too strongly that, in our current condition 
of ignorance, it is grotesquely premature to draw any firm conclusions about 
the nature of reality.

Brook also questions my hypothesis that the "self circuit" is time binding as 
well as space binding. Let me see if I can clarify this a bit in a brief 

First, we know almost nothing about time, and have not resolved all the 
physical "paradoxes" of continuity, going back to antiquity. Whether space 
and time are continuous or quantized, mystery remains. 

In the Einsteinian view of spacetime, as usually interpreted, all of eternity 
coexists, or would coexist from the viewpoint of an entity able to visualize 
the whole thing. "Now," past and future are just subjective illusions. From 
the quantum viewpoint (sometimes seen as the film-frame notion) the situation 
is even worse, more garbled and contentious.

However, from a common-sense perspective (which of course is often wrong), 
any "self circuit" necessarily binds both space and time. It binds space 
because it cannot involve only a single elementary particle; it requires a 
system spread over an appreciable region of space.

It must also bind time in order to escape the "film frame" or quantum-chronon 
problem. It is hard to imagine feeling anything in a single moment, or having 
a single quantum state of your system represent an experience. Having qualia 
(probably) means feeling that something is happening, and (probably) nothing 
can happen in zero time or at a single chronon of time. 

In particular, a standing wave (with its modulations) must extend over both 
space and time. I have postulated something along the lines of a standing 
wave as the basis of the self circuit.

3. Mike Perry points out that your far-future self might still be interested 
in history, and especially in the history of you, of whom he is the remote 

That's true, and possibly comforting to some people, but not really relevant 
as far as I can see. Why should it matter to me, now, if in the far future 
someone else (whether or not my own continuer) will think about me?

Others have said that, since "you" change over time anyway, a near-duplicate 
at the same time might be more "you" than your continuer at a later time. 
More similar, sure, but that doesn't really touch the basic problem, which is 
that we just don't have any sound or proven criterion (or set of criteria) to 
gauge "identity," nor do we even know how to state the question clearly.  

Mike Perry also says:

>Sure, a measurement "proves" that you have two particles that are separate 
and >distinct. But in making that measurement, you have also put them in 
different >quantum states. When the states are the same, the behavior of the 
total system >is such that you have to treat them as identical.

"have to"? Only for some purposes. (And even if the act of measurement 
changed the states, it did so separately to the separate particles, and they 
are still distinct from each other.) If I detect one alpha particle here, and 
another there, I certainly don't have to treat them the same way. Again, 
"state" is used in many ways, usually in a very limited sense and NOT taking 
into account ALL of the possible influences by and upon the system.

4. George Smith commented on the frequency of fabrications by those claiming 
remarkable memory disturbances or mental experiences, and Jan Coetzee 
reported one of his own experiences involving submerged personalities.

Many strange stories are fabricated, consciously or unconsciously, but there 
are plenty of very strange yet apparently true stories. (Remember THE MAN WHO 

Once, as a young man, coming out of anaesthesia after surgery, I did in fact 
ask "What am I"-not "Where am I?" or "Who am I?" 

As a child on one occasion I had a waking hallucination, coming out of sleep. 
I could see the real room, with my parents present, but I could also see a 
lion coming through the window.

And of course dreams bring countless fantasies, many of them unpleasant. 
Dream analysis may be a big thing some day.

The bottom line, as usual, is that optimism is usually more productive than 
pessimism, and action is usually more productive than passivity. But we 
should resist the urge to pronounce unnecessary and premature 
conclusions--which is not the same as resisting the urge to speculate.

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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