X-Message-Number: 3745
Date: Wed, 25 Jan 1995 17:10:24 -0500
Subject: SCI. CRYONICS criteria

Perhaps I can say this without sounding too patronizing, since I am older and
have thought about these issues probably longer than others on the Net. 

Some think the "uploaded" self (into a silicon-based computer) would still be
"you," others not. Some think a physical duplicate would be "you," others
not. But nobody else in the recent Cryonet version of this discussion seems
to have a clear idea of what is at
issue. I think I do have a clear idea, but obviously have not yet succeeded
in making myself clear to others.

The issue is not whether an objective outside observer would find anything to
choose between the original and the upload (assuming an upload is possible,
which is very doubtful), or anything to choose between the original and a
physical duplicate.

Neither need it turn on how the various versions would feel about it, before
or after.  As John Clark points out, intuition is a weak reed (although often
a useful starting point).

The question is how we OUGHT to feel about it, given perfect logic and
maximum information. The information necessary includes our basic biological
character, including the self circuit; it probably also includes information,
far beyond what we now have, about the nature of time or spacetime. Lacking
these, we can at best reach tentative and temporary conclusions. We do not
yet know the appropriate PREMISES; we do not know the criteria for the
criteria of survival. 

Much--even most--of all previous and present discussion is confused and
confusing because of muddled analogies, language-based misdirection, and
hidden assumptions.

No matter what criterion you choose--at least out of those so far
discussed--it is easy to find a counter-example or area of doubt.

For example, John Clark thinks that he "is" what his brain "does," and that
something else that "did" him (an upload, or a duplicate) would be him.
However, what about the case where "you" are duplicated at a great distance
in time or/and space? Maybe I have many duplicates, whom I will never know,
in the distant past or future or/and in some remote part of the universe or
multiverse. Why should any of us be comforted by the possibility, or even the
knowledge, that the others exist? Maybe we SHOULD--but how do you go about

Or consider again the ordinary course of events.  If cryonics works, we may
live long and develop greatly and eventually become so far superhuman that
our future continua will have almost nothing in common with our present
selves. We may even choose to jettison our primitive (current) memories as
irrelevant baggage; then there will be nothing connecting the past and future
persons except the causal continuity. It is difficult to see why the present
person should be any more interested in the  fate of his future continuer
than in that of any other future person. 

It is often asserted in argument that "we" remain the same despite the
constant turnover of atoms--as well as other, more important, changes. But
that is only an assumption, although an apparent working necessity. Any other
assumption would apparently cut the ground from under us entirely and lead to
pure fatalism, a total disregard for consequences. But (1) as often noted,
Nature may not be much interested in our preferences or comfort, and (2) we
don't really know for sure whether there are other ways of thinking or hidden
relevant information. There have been so many surprises already that is
probably safe to say there will be others, perhaps more profound.

In terms of survival strategy, the only reasonable conclusion, as far as I
can see, is to try to preserve as much as we can of BOTH matter/structure and
continuity. If you are forced into a trade-off....rotsa ruck.

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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