X-Message-Number: 19573
Date: Fri, 19 Jul 2002 12:19:10 -0700 (PDT)
From: Scott Badger <>
Subject: Re: Merging Memories

Attention long-time cryonet members: 

This is another identity post - Please skip over it if
you find the topic annoying.

With that caveat, let me indulge myself once again.
And my apologies in advance for the lengthy post.

The discussion of the merging of memories from two
separate "copies" of you raises certain issues. 

First, I think you'd have to take the time factor into
consideration to evaluate how the "merged" identity
would react. 

If one assumes that entity #1 and #2 simultaneously
and respectively experienced extreme pleasure and
extreme pain and the merging took place "immediately"
afterwards, I can see some cognitive processing
problems given the limited architecture of our current
brains. But if the merging occured, let's say, a week
after the experiences, there probably wouldn't be a
problem. Our recollection of memories is generally,
but certainly not strictly, chronological. Your mind
would likely artifically impose a chronological
sequence upon the experiences in any case.

A more salient point I'd like to address is this.
Let's replace the notion of intermittently merging
specific memories of you and your copy with the notion
of intermittently merging specific memories of you and
someone else because I'm not convinced that it would
be all that different. It was mentioned earlier by
someone that another person's memories would feel
foreign since they would be colored by the context of
the personality that generated them. Let's consider

What makes up a memory? Visual and aural
recollections, certainly. Emotional tags are also
often part of a memory (fear, excitement, etc.). We
all experience the same emotions to one degree or
another so how foreign would that be? 

Understand that one's personality is a framework, a
filter for interpreting and assigning meaning to one's
world. A dependent personality style and an
independent personality style will differentially
interpret the very same experience. If the independent
personality attempts to integrate the memories of the
dependent personality as his/her own, it will strike
that person as incongruous. Cognitive dissonance and
confusion might result. Not that all of us don't stray
from our typical modes of behavior from time to time.

On the other hand, I think that we are much more alike
as humans than we are different. Most of us don't have
highly dependent or highly independent personality
styles (or any of the other dimensions of
personality). Most of us lean a little bit in one
direction or the other. We like to think of ourselves
as unique but in my mind that's really just splitting
hairs. You could take a personality test and get an
identical score to millions of others in the world (6
billion people and 5 basic dimensions of personality).
That obviously doesn't make you identical to them, but
the practical degree of your uniqueness is called into
question. So very possibly, incorporating the memories
of others into your own psyche would "not" be overly

But would you want to? For many, I think probably so.
If for nothing else, the entertainment factor. What if
I could sell you the memory of my hike through the
Grand Canyon? or my shuttle flight to the
International Space Station? And what if you could
recall it as your own experience? Would it really make
a difference whether you originally had the experience
or not? Of course others would inform you that you
didn't really have the experience, so that would
create confusion. You'd ultimately have to accept that
some memories weren't originally yours. Of course,
then you might start wondering which memories "were"
originally yours.

What if I could sell you my memory of the German
language and with it you could suddenly speak German?

Clearly, many memories have great value and if they
can be, they'll be bought and sold. And the more that
happens, the more similar we will all become, because
certain memories will have more mass appeal than
others. And I suspect that the more memories we share,
the more homogenized we will become. Much like how,
thanks to the pervasive media, we all share (albeit
vicariously) so many of the same experiences (e.g.
news events, the Simpsons, infomercials). Are we as
individualistic as we were 100 years ago, before we
shared so much with each other? Which life is better?

Realize also that if you ran into someone who had
purchased the same memory as you, you might well find
that your versions now differ. This is because our
memories of events can change over time, depending on
new experiences and reinterpretations of old

Lastly, if it indeed became possible for one to
integrate the memories/knowledge of another into one's
own mental data base, then I think that a virtual
borg-like entity might eventually be the result.
Competition would drive the process, in part. The
person who integrated the greatest amount of valuable
information in any particular industry would dominate
the market unless others strived to catch up. 

Speaking more generally, say you and I share all our
memories and I've already downloaded the memories of 5
others, and you've shared with 7 others, ... are we
Borg yet? At what point would the persons that you and
I originally were become so diffuse or lost that there
is no practical difference between you and me?

I hope that upon being revived from cryonic suspension
I have the opportunity to choose whether I want to be
part of the collective or not.

Best regards,

Scott Badger

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