X-Message-Number: 14152
Date: Sun, 23 Jul 2000 14:24:49 EDT
Subject: Badger, Spoering, survival

1. Scott Badger (#14143) writes, in part:

 >Any experience at all results in the processing of information and a 
 >change (albeit small) in brain and thus identity.  I argued that survival 
occurs when >the current self accurately "perceives" itself to be equivalent 
to or a very close >approximation of a recent previous self.
First of all, what one "perceives" (or believes) is not necessarily relevant. 
As an extreme example, if the universe had been created one second ago, 
complete with me and my memories, I would "perceive" no differently than I do 
now, but I would not be a survivor or continuer of any past self. Or--a bit 
less extreme--if I am one of several copies recently made by some 
super-beings, or if I am an emulation in a computer, then my being a 
"survivor" would at best be arguable. And if the original had meanwhile been 
destroyed, his "survival" would at best be arguable.

For the umpteenth time, I cannot emphasize too strongly that--as far as I 
know--there is NO current answer or solution to the question of correct 
criteria of survival. No matter what anyone has proposed, someone else has 
provided a thought experiment that casts doubt on it.
 In arguing against survival only in the moment, Scott writes in part:

>what is meant by, "now" or "in the moment"?  There is little meaning to be 
derived >from a single time frame without taking the context of the other 
moments of the
>ball's flight into consideration. The meaning is in the movement, not in the 
moment.  >Similarly, meaning does not exist in the moment for us. It is the 
perception of the >self over time that gives us the context from which we 
construct meaningfulness.
I don't think this addresses the question. We sometimes apprehend meaning or 
connectedness over long time periods--remembering important events decades 
past, anticipating future goals far ahead--but this surely doesn't imply that 
we "exist" only as a long term composite. Even a newborn baby exists and 
feels, and that with virtually no cognition. If a silicon person could be 
constructed and could feel--which may or may not be possible--then it would 
probably "exist" in the first microsecond of function. 

It isn't about "meaning." It's about feeling. The minimal time for a 
subjective experience is unknown. (The minimum time for any physical event is 
also unknown.) The "spacetime" view and the various "quantum" views are very 
different and not even agreed within their own schools of thought.

Scott further, in part:

>Again, I don't think it's possible to live in the moment.  No one really 
does that.  No >one can.  The moment is already past. Meaning is in the 
movement, not in the >moment. 

I think this is misplaced confidence. Many bright people, for instance, think 
your life unfolds as a succession of quantum states, or roughly speaking as a 
succession of film frames, discrete and finite. If this is true, then you 
can--and in fact you must--live in the moment. 

However, this does not necessarily imply that the momentary individual is 
totally isolated and without any possible logical motivation. Scott 
continues, in part:

>The closest you can come to living in the present is concerning your self 
with your >very near-term future.  And the difference between you wanting to 
survive in the >near-term vs. wanting to survive in the longer-term is simply 
a matter of degree.  >How can there be meaning in the former and no meaning 
in the latter?
I generally agree with the psychology implied here. If the self circuit binds 
time, then (disregarding quantum theory, which I think is incomplete) 
successive "selves" overlap. It is then logical, as well as psychologically 
necessary, for me to concern myself with the welfare of my near-future 
overlapper/continuer. And, as I have said before, while importance diminishes 
with distance in time, other things equal, importance also relates to the 
magnitude or quality or importance of my various goals or aspirations, and 
this implies that I can reasonably assign appreciable importance to some of 
the attributes of my distant future successor, related to me
in a greatly attenuated manner by a chain of overlapping continuers.
2. Kevin Spoering writes, in part: 
>[You could] keep your organic body but have it connected with high bandwith 
to >possibly several mind equivalent computers as a SHARED consciousness 
network. >You would perceive your consciousness centered in your body, but if 
your body and >brain were destroyed, the external computers would be your 
backup. Then a new >body would have to be made of course but as these 
external computers are part
>of your consciousness, it gets around the problem of "is it a copy or not?" 

I'm afraid this is a fallacy, although of course I agree that we will 
eventually have computer-augmented brains. If feeling is a specific organic 
phenomenon, then the computers would not share consciousness--they would only 
share the CONTENT of consciousness, i.e. the data of cognition, not the self 
circuit that holds the feeling and life. 

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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