X-Message-Number: 18028
Date: Sun, 25 Nov 2001 23:25:43 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Duplicates' Relevance--Again

Thomas Donaldson, #18013:

>To Mike Perry:
>No, what you say does not obviously deal with the problem of duplicates.
>In the first case, we are really discussing whether we must replace
>part or all of our patients' brains to reawaken them. Once we assume
>first that we work by known physical-chemical means, and second that
>we can indeed replace these parts, then the degree to which we must
>replace parts becomes a minor issue. Where is the duplication here?

At first sight it may appear that there is no "problem of duplicates," even 
if you allow that all the brain is replaced. (And conceivably this would 
happen. It might be easier, in the future, to pick apart and sacrifice the 
old tissue, extracting its information, and then just recreate the new from 
scratch, especially if, for instance, you could also make it more durable. 
Natural brain tissue is fragile--consider the problem of strokes.) If there 
is no problem replacing all the brain, then presumably you could just 
replace the whole original with a copy. (Indeed there may be nothing but 
the brain to begin with, so the rest of the body must start as a copy 
anyway.) So it seems that we arrive at the position that structure (really, 
information) is what makes you "you" and not original material. In other 
words, "a copy of you is you."

But if that is true, then clearly the problem of duplicates comes up, *even 
if* we imagine only scenarios in which there is one copy at a time and no 
multiplicity. If nothing else, critics like to bring up the issue of 
duplicates to discredit the whole copy idea: if a copy is you it seems that 
more than one copy, if it did exist, would lead to more than one "you" 
which, they would say, is absurd. They could then ask, if some copies are 
not you then how do we know that any (non-original) copies would be you, 
even if there was only one? A prejudice against copying, on the other hand, 
could significantly narrow the options our friends of the future will be 
willing to use for reanimations, thus impacting our own future.

This, then, is one way the duplicates issue becomes relevant. But I think 
it has more general relevance. In cryonics we are interested in what "you" 
really are. Are you matter only? Information? A soul? These questions come 
up--with their ties to the duplicates problem. How they are answered will 
affect what people think of cryonics, whether they choose it for 
themselves, advocate it for others, and so on.

Mike Perry

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