X-Message-Number: 23373
Date: Wed, 04 Feb 2004 00:36:30 -0700
From: Paul Antonik Wakfer <>
Subject: Are the Obliterated Restorable? - Re: CryoNet #23367
References: <>

 >Message #23367
 >Date: Mon, 02 Feb 2004 22:52:25 -0700
 >From: Mike Perry <>
 >Subject: Re: CryoNet #23354 (Paul Wakfer) [The Essence of Cryonics]

 >On the whole I liked Paul Wakfer's comments and found them to be "on
 >the mark" and well put. [snip] I wanted to comment on this remark:

 >>... there will also always be
 >>situations which are so devastating that restoration to life is truly
 >>impossible (this is so in spite of Mike Perry's and other's belief to
 >>the contrary).

 >This is quite correct, _for those who hold certain views of personhood,
 >identity and survival_, and very many do hold those views, though, as
 >you'd expect, mine are somewhat different. Death to me is simply a
 >matter of sufficient loss of identity-critical information.

I fully agree with that view.

 >I think many cryonicists agree, though others insist that death occurs
 >with loss of identity-critical _structure_, that is to say, original

I don't hold that view.

 >In practice today the two are essentially equivalent--lose the
 >structure and you also lose the information--though of course there
 >is a difference. In any case death is certainly going to be possible
 >for the indefinite future, given the type of universe we seem to be in,
 >laws of physics, and so on. Just think of cremation which, if done at a
 >bit higher than usual temperature, leaves _no remains at all_. If you
 >had _enough_ information from other sources you could still reconstruct
 >an exact copy of the original person, which would leave you with the
 >philosophical problem of whether you "really" had that original person
 >or "just a duplicate"--something we have thrashed out in no small
 >measure before.

I have no problem that it would be the original given that sufficient 
information could be obtained (but see my answer to Thomas).

 >But of course you don't have this information, even in a more usual
 >case of cremation with some charred remains, so this is one time when
 >death certainly occurs. And no doubt it occurs under conditions of less
 >severe but still catastrophic loss, as in conventional burial, where
 >the brain disintegrates. So death--at least the possibility of it--will
 >always be with us. The loss of information will prevent any
 >"restoration" to life _in the usual sense_ and many might discount any
 >prospect of ever, in any reasonable sense, returning the deceased
 >person to life. (I should mention here that some, on the other hand,
 >think that all "lost" information will eventually be unambiguously
 >recovered, but this is a view I do not share.)

I don't either, but I had forgotten that you didn't think this.

 >The possibility always exists, however, that in some fashion an exact
 >or near copy of the original individual could be recreated, even if
 >only through guesswork or random, unintelligent means, without
 >knowledge of the original at all.

But even if you could generate such a magnitude of all likely instances 
(ie. all having the known information in common) of the original (which 
I don't even accept as possible in principle), it would not be possible 
to tell which was the original. In fact, each individual generated would 
feel just as alive and restored as any other (albeit with very impaired 
memory of his past unless you also gave them false memories relating to 
anything which was not known information, as in Blade Runner).

 >In the sort of reality that we inhabit, in fact, that prospect is
 >arguably inevitable. That's what I argue in _Forever for All_,
 >invoking some ideas of multiple universes, so that many things indeed
 >could be happening. And, based on my view of personhood, I would accept
 >a sufficiently close copy as (an instantiation of) the original 
person, >not "just a copy".

But the important question is not whether *you* think that the 
instantiation is the original person, but whether the individual who is 
the instantiation thinks he is the original person and is happy to be alive.

 >Others, of course, will see it differently. If you don't
 >think the chance occurrence of a double of a person would constitute
 >survival of that person (and aren't into mystical souls and such),

I don't think this at all.

 >then maybe you'll agree 100 percent with Paul Wakfer's position.

Please do not presume to know what my "position" is until I have fully 
stated it.

[snipped the rest]

--Paul Wakfer

MoreLife for the rational - http://morelife.org
Reality based tools for more life in quantity and quality
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