X-Message-Number: 25238
From: "Valera Retyunin" <>
Subject: More on the copying and splitting of brains 
Date: Mon, 6 Dec 2004 22:23:51 +0300

To Robert Ettinger:

>In short, I think the fear of being uploaded rather than  repaired is very
>far-fetched and one of the least of our  worries.

I agree, it may be far-fetched and certainly is one of the least of our
worries, but it can still be easily addressed. An official policy on
uploading adopted by cryonics organisations now could help prevent problems
in (even distant) future. I believe cryonics will someday become a large
industry, long before first attempts of true revival are made. It's quite
likely that some of the hundreds or thousands of future cryonics
organisations, being in financial trouble, decides to cut costs through some
cheap form of uploading the organisation's managers deem an acceptable
survival method. From the Cryonet posts, you can see that even an electronic
simulation using a set of FPGAs may be regarded as "revival" by some. The
earlier a policy on uploading is adopted, the more deeply it can root as a
'good practice' standard by the time it becomes necessary and the less is
the risk of such cost-cutting decisions.

Again, this worry may be far-fetched, but it's understandable, isn't it?
There are clearly lots of people in the cryonics community, some even
working for cryonics providers, who already consider high-tech duplication a
survival method.

To Yvan Bozzonetti:

>I don't understand: "I don't want them to be killed,..." Uploading is about
>information copy and running that copy on a machine. Where is the problem?

There is no problem as long as the original person is not destroyed after
the creation of such a copy, or is destroyed with the person's *informed*
consent, and does not mind the existence of the copy.

To Scott Badger:

>From my 4th dimensional perspective, there would be
>millions of versions of  you  in the room

No, there would be just one version, or one (original) copy of the person.
The whole worm, from birth to death, by the usual definition of "version"
and "copy" in our 3-dimensional world. In your 4-dimensional representation,
any version or copy of anything or anybody is a worm, not a "snapshot".

>Each one would appear to be an almost
>exact duplicate of the instantiation that preceded it
>in time.

Each "snapshot" would appear to be an almost exact duplicate of the previous
"snapshot". But the person would still be one and whole.

>So which one is the original and which
>the copy? Ridiculous question, of course! They are all
> you . If you had to choose one to survive, which one
>would you select? The one that exited the room? OK.
>But would you settle for the one that entered the
>room? What about 5 minutes ago? What about 3 days ago?
>Where is the line and how can you justify the existence of a

Survive at which point? In your 4-dimensional representation, the person is
the whole worm. The person's survival is the continuation of the worm in
space and time. The person's survival at the time of entering the room, for
example, is essential for the person's survival at the time of entering plus
an infinitesimal, and at any moment thereafter. So "I would choose" the
"snapshot" that entered the room at the moment of entering plus an
infinitesimal. Similarly, "I would choose" the "snapshot" that existed 5
minutes ago exactly 5 minutes ago plus an infinitesimal etc. I don't
understand what you mean by "line", I only see two lines here - birth and
death of the worm.

>You insist that you and a duplicate in the same room
>at the same time would be two different people. But
>how is that scenario really different from the you
> now  and the you just before now? Just because you
>can t see in 4 dimensions as you can see in 3
>dimensions doesn t mean a real difference exists
>between the cases I describe.

The difference is simple. In the 4-dimensional representation, the person
and its copy are two different worms, which incidentally *never* intersect.

>A surgeon cuts the corpus callosum of a
>patient, separating the two hemispheres of the brain.
>What happens to your hypothetical QE? Is it still
>intact? Clearly it is from the reports of those who ve
>undergone such surgical procedures.

I haven't read any reports of people who've been through such procedures,
but if the separation of the corpus callosum really doesn't destroy the QE,
it can be explained by one of the following:

(I have virtually no idea of how the brain works, so I'll be using quotes
from Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia and Encyclopaedia Britannica)

(1) Quote from MEE: "The two cerebral hemispheres are partially separated
from each other by a deep fold known as the longitudinal fissure.
Communication between the two hemispheres is through several concentrated
bundles of axons, called commissures, the largest of which is the corpus

I.e. the corpus callosum is not the only connection between the cerebral

(2) Quote from MEE: "Most high-level brain functions take place in the

I.e. most but not all, and a sufficiently big part of the QE may be located
outside the cerebral hemispheres.

(3) Quote from EB: "A deep fissure running from front to back divides the
cerebrum into two hemispheres, each controlling the activities of the
opposite side of the body. One of these hemispheres is functionally
dominant, concentrating the specialized nervous apparatus for speech and
thought and determining spatial preferences such as right- or

A sufficiently big part of the QE may be located in one cerebral hemisphere,
and an insufficiently big part - in the other. Which would result in the
patient having the same, single (though traumatised) QE after the separation

>What if (and I believe Mike Perry already
>addressed this but I missed your response if there was
>one) a cryonically frozen brain is devoid of damage
>except it has been split into 3 parts instead of 2 and
>then put back together? You insist that disassembly
>destroys the original QE, so is it destroyed at this
>level of disassembly? Remember, the QE apparently
>wasn t destroyed when the brain was cut in half. What
>if we split the brain into 10 pieces and successfully
>reassemble it? What about 100 pieces or 1 billion?
>Where is the line and how can you justify the
>existence of a line?

The more pieces you split the brain into, the more likely it is that you
have destroyed the QE. There a chance that splitting the brain into 3 pieces
will not destroy the QE. Splitting the brain into individual neurons or
atoms is certain to destroy the QE.

>You seem to think that we are seeking comfort in
>non-traditional definitions of identity, but is it
>possible that you are seeking comfort in traditional
>definitions of identity? Adopting your traditional
>view makes everything very black and white, and my
>years tell me that topics of this magnitude are rarely
>resolved with plainly obvious and simple black and
>white solutions.

What are the "traditional definitions of identity"? If you mean the
definition "identity = unique brain", what comfort can possibly be found in
this definition? I would really love to find comfort in the idea that I can
continue living in my copy, or in my children, or in Heaven, if I could only
force myself to believe in any of these.

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