X-Message-Number: 14162
Date: Mon, 24 Jul 2000 11:36:09 -0700 (PDT)
From: Scott Badger <>
Subject: Re: Identity [Cynthia and Kevin Spoering]

Cool idea, Kevin.

Bob Ettinger makes a good point that computers may 
never be a suitable substrate for human consciousness,
but even if we assume for the moment that a shared
consciousness is possible, your argument for saving
the original "you" still seems unnecessary. 

If your biological body is accidentally destroyed, 
then until a new body is created for you, you're
identity is wholly within the machine.  What
substantial difference would there be between that
temporary state and being uploaded into a machine
without the high bandwidth connection to a bio-body?

Consider what would happen if suddenly the connections
between all the nodes were severed? Now instead of a
shared consciousness, you have several "you's"
existing simultaneously. What's the difference between
them except for geography and type of container?

Wanting to keep the bio-body reminds me of an old
conversation with my mom: 

"Why aren't you wearing that new jacket I bought you?"
"I like my old jacket."
"What's wrong with your new jacket?"
"Nothing. This one is just more comfortable. It's been
a good jacket."
"But it looks terrible."
"Hey! It's got personality!"

Don't get me wrong. I like my bio-body, too, and I
like the option you describe. I'm just having a hard
time logically justifying why I see that as being
preferable. I know what you mean about not being able
to shake the feeling that an upload would "just" be a
copy. Especially when you consider the possibility of
a non-destructive scan which results in an uploaded
self while leaving the original alive and intact! It
would seem intuitively clear at that point that the
upload is a copy and is not really you, right?  But
that intuition is mainly derived, I believe, from our
observation that the alleged original occurred in time
prior to the alleged copy and that the copy is in a
different style container (i.e. a computer). 

However, if I make an exact copy of you when you're
asleep and the duplicate is physically identical to
you, then how will either of you determine which was
which when I wake you both up? Ok, I agree that I
would know which of you two was the original but the
point is that there would be no substantial or
functional difference.  You'd both be anxious to
figure out which one was the real you, but you'd both
be the real you.

Of course, there are important advantages to having a
shared consciousness network   mainly, being able to
survive the destruction of any one node. But also
being able to work on multiple projects at the same
time, observe multiple events at the same time, etc. 

You may prefer one container over another but does
that impact the integrity of your self if the exact
same information resides in each?  It's like deciding
which mug you choose to pour your coffee into. You can
pour the liquid from one vessel into another and back
again but the coffee will taste the same.  (OK, OK,
maybe it's not a great analogy)

I guess I'm saying that I share your intuitions and
I've been trying to build an argument to deconstruct
what I suspect is a misconception fueled by that
intuition ... namely that there is a substantial
difference between exact iterations of the self   that
an exact copy is still somehow less desirable than the

I would also suggest that a sense of continuity may be
a necessary but insufficient factor in preserving the
self. It may also be the case that a functional
relationship with the environment is needed to
maintain the integrity of the self.  Who "I" am is
more than my memories, beliefs, dispositions, etc. 
"I" am also
defined by my relationship to the environment.  Being
reanimated and awaking to a very different future
environment may create significant challenges to the
integrity of my "self".  Developing a functional
relationship with that environment as soon as possible
will help minimize the distress.  Hopefully, there
will be skilled individuals assisting in our

Please note that I'm only speculating here and I
certainly don't claim to have the most correct
argument.  It should also be clear to all that I have
waaaay too much time on my hands.

Vita perpetuem,


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