X-Message-Number: 18497
Date: Tue, 05 Feb 2002 23:23:23 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Re: Importance of Memory

Robert Ettinger, #18485-6:

>I agree that retention of memory after revival is important, but not as
>important as Thomas Donaldson thinks.
>Does Thomas think his infant self failed to survive? After all, he retains no
>memories, or at least none he can bring to consciousness, from his first year
>of life. Yet here he is, and if he looks at his baby pictures no doubt he
>thinks of that as himself.

For me, there may be some memories from late in the first year of life, but 
going back further, I would say that information affecting states of 
consciousness probably has survived from that time, though it does not take 
the form of declarative memory. So in some measure the "I" of that time has 
likely survived. If, however, it could be established that there is no 
information from back then that could affect my states of consciousness 
now, the infant self has not survived in my view.
>Now, the psychological-connectedness school of survival criteria holds that
>the important thing is your persona or psyche, your habits and attitudes and
>propensities. That might largely survive a considerable degree of amnesia.

In this case, though, you still have information affecting states of 
consciousness that has survived, in effect a type of "memory" though not 
the declarative sort. For me, though, at some point the declarative 
memories assume an importance too. That is how you can experience the "you" 
that was present at an earlier time. If you can't relive that then, by and 
large I would say, "you" don't survive.

>We also remember that our infant memories are gone, yet we consider that the
>infant has survived.

See my comments above. I'll add here that in earliest infancy the "you" 
that is present is limited anyway, so it doesn't seem so problematic if 
that entity survives only in rough approximation.

>If we live into a far future and transhumanity, our present memories may
>interest us very little and have almost nothing to do with our developed
>personalities. We might even jettison them or store them in external

Again, though, one must consider whether there would be information from 
the past self that affects one's present states of consciousness. I think 
that well-formed declarative memories are important. So for me, jettisoning 
too much of this sort of past information would mean the person typing this 
now has not survived, at least not in the person who jettisons.

>Further, suppose you were somehow to discover that your memories are
>false--that they were recently implanted. You would be upset, but how would
>it basically matter? Our actual histories and memories are just cosmic
>accidents anyway--why does it matter if they are true or false, so long as
>they are healthy enough to allow an ongoing healthy life?

I deal with this issue (and others relating to memory) in my book, which 
accepts the idea of multiple universes. To uphold the memory criterion of 
survival it will sometimes be necessary to invoke the idea that the person 
with "false" memories is, in effect, a traveler from one of these parallel 
universes who has wound up in our own. A challenge, but worth it in my view.

>None of this proves anything, but I think it casts doubt on the high degree
>of importance Thomas Donaldson places on memory of personal history.

Well, I have to say I side with Thomas on this, though I haven't proved 
anything either. However, I do think the memory criterion of survival is 
defensible, while contrary notions seem shakier, if pursued far enough.

Mike Perry
Alcor Foundation
Society for Venturism www.venturist.org 

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