X-Message-Number: 23836
Date: Thu, 08 Apr 2004 21:28:12 -0400
From: Francois <>
Subject: Identity, a thought experiment repeated

This is a thought experiment I have already described not too long ago. I
think it's worth repeating after the discussion on memory and identity of
the past few days.

Stage 1, I am frozen.
Stage 2, advanced nanotechnology is used to make a perfect, atom for atom
copy of my frozen body.
Stage 3, the two identical frozen bodies are randomly mixed in the absence
of any observer or information recording device.
Stage 4, the two identical frozen bodies are revived using whatever
technology is adequate for that task.

The result are two identical individuals. We cannot determine by any
concievable set of objective observations who the original is and who the
copy is. The individuals themselves cannot determine by any concievable set
of subjective observations who the original is and who the copy is. Both
individuals will be me, in every way possible. Let me repeat that. BOTH
individuals will be ME, in EVERY way possible.

We can extend this experiment in the following way. The information
describing the nature and positions of the atoms of my frozen body is
recorded in a database during stage 2 and is stored somewhere. A million
years in the future, someone discovers this database and uses it to build a
perfect, atom for atom reconstruction of my frozen body. This body is then
revived and I wake up a million years in the future. Again, that future
individual will be me in every way possible.

The only way out of these conclusions is to invoke the existence of some
property of our persons that is not defined by the way our atoms interract
with each other, some form of information that a perfect atom for atom
copying process would therefore not reproduce. I think evoking such a
property is grasping at straws, although I am not fundamentally opposed to
its existence. I will, however, need solid evidence that such a property
does exist before I revise the conclusions reached in this thought

Duct tape is a lot like the Force,
it has a Light and a Dark side
and it binds the World together.

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