X-Message-Number: 14209
Date: Sun, 30 Jul 2000 12:16:43 EDT
Subject: Garbo & frog

Mike Perry, responding to Dave Pizer on survival criteria, refers to Parfit's 
Greta Garbo scenario, similar to Lee Corbin's frog scenario.

First, while Dave doesn't need me to defend him, I think Mike was not quite 
fair to Dave's position, which-I believe-does not hold that continuity is the 
only criterion, but that it is one consideration. Actually Dave's position is 
conservative and common-sense; save your meat AND your pattern to the best of 
your ability, and don't bet your life on anything else if you can possibly 
avoid it.

Now the Garbo/frog scenario. If you could somehow gradually be changed, by 
infinitesimal gradations, into Greta Garbo (or into a frog, even a particular 
frog), then in the end would you be Garbo or frog, or would Garbo or frog be 
you? And whatever you answer in the gradual change scenario, why would it 
really matter if the change were sudden?

Once more, the most general response is that, to my knowledge, there is NO 
criterion, or set of criteria, that stands up to all the possible 
countervailing thought experiments, and any definitive finding is simply 
premature. But we should also be very careful about admissibility of thought 

Some people believe that the logically possible and the physically possible 
are the same. Some believe that if something is possible "in principle" but 
not "in practice" under any conceivable circumstances, then it is not after 
all possible in principle either. 

Look at the "infinitesimal gradations" assumption. Is it really always 
possible, even in principle, to make changes so tiny that there will be no 
noticeable effect in the context of the experiment? Not necessarily.

It is often said that a woman can't be "a little bit pregnant." More rigidly, 
prevailing current belief is that all changes occur by quantum jumps, 
discretely, even though the jumps are often very small; at the fine-structure 
level, at least, we have discontinuities in the mathematical sense. In the 
case of survival experiments, suppose we are looking at your "self circuit." 
Is it possible, even in principle, to change your underlying standing wave 
without destroying it? I doubt it. 

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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