X-Message-Number: 3792
From:  (Thomas Donaldson)
Subject: comments.re.#3781-3786
Date: Fri, 3 Feb 1995 23:50:14 -0800 (PST)


It seems to me that the discussion of identity would benefit by becoming a 
bit more focused on its relation to cryonic suspension: to be exact, when
and if we are revived, what condition must our brain be in for us to decide
that we are the same individual who was frozen so long ago? (Perhaps injured
or missing in some things, but still the same person). That seems to me to
be the central question. Furthermore, uploading and duplicates will very
probably remain impossible until after our revival --- assuming that they
are possible at all (cf. Ettinger's comments). When they become possible or
close to possible, it will become very relevant to think about identity in
that context. 

1. Although I believe that there are brain circuits which make us aware
   of the world around us and give us a sense of unity, I would not call
   these circuits "self-circuits" because I believe that they are (as 
   brain parts) interchangeable between people, at least those of the same
   sex (recall minor differences in brain structure between the sexes and
   possibly with sexual orientation).

2. Our memories always have feelings attached to them. This side of the
   matter of identity should never be neglected. Naturally the brain 
   circuits which produce these feelings must be duplicated, and tied
   in with our memories. This suggests that some parts of our circuitry
   (connections to our amygdala, for instance) also must be preserved
   because they will differ between individuals. 

3. The hypothalamus and the pineal gland play a large role in our 
   hormonal balance and hence in our feelings. They should be preserved
   well enough to make restoration to their normal state a fairly easy
   process (ie. it wouldn't be good if we have to go through a kind
   of "adolescent period" until our feelings came back to those we 
   would recognize as our own). I assume here (I believe with good 
   empirical support, but things can change ... and I might even be 
   wrong to start with) that these parts of our brain basically 
   control other glands not in our brain, such as our adrenals. This
   ought to mean that if we find ourselves in a body regrown from our
   own cells, then that body will have the same chemistry and responses
   of such glands.

4. Memories are crucial mainly because at present they are the only 
   features of our self that we cannot say will definitely survive 
   suspension. Personal memories (which among other things involve
   our feelings) would rank particularly high in telling us we were
   the same person. I have spent a large part of my life learning and
   doing mathematics, and I have feelings about my experiences in
   mathematics. At the same time, ASSUMING that my ability to learn 
   was retained, I think I would still feel that I was the same person
   if a lot of the CONTENT I had learned and discovered was forgotten.
   Yes, I'd have to learn it over again, but that (I assume) would not
   be hard ... a pain, since one never wants to lose anything, but 
   something doable. 

   On the other hand, feelings are often inseparable from the events 
   causing them. That would mean that if such events were retained,
   then I would retain a lot (perhaps not all) of the maths I know
   now. I'm not trying to draw lines here, because I think such lines
   are arbitrary, but I believe there is a continuum of facts which
   wouldn't affect my sense of self if I lost them up to others which
   would. I assume I speak for others, too, if only in a general sense 
   (substitute physics for maths, or whatever).

And on a quite different tack:

We live in a universe which operates at particular speed for particular
parts of it. Even if it were possible to have a computer run a person,
it's necessary that the computer run in real time ie. at least as fast
as the biological person. Otherwise our uploading will be basically a
severely injured version. (And for those who want to put this person into
a virtual reality, I don't doubt that could be done, but has all the
demerits of less technological solutions, such as taking opium.  Sure,
for a while you may think you live in a real world, but the REAL world
will sooner or later come round to kick you in some delicate place).
This puts some strong constraints on the technology required to upload
a person.

In fact, amid all this discussion of uploading, the specifications of the
computer required seem to be consistently neglected. Discussions of
uploading into some wonderful computer of some unknown design with
unknown features provide us with a modern version of heaven (far off,
but "of course" a very nice place to be). In terms of rigorous 
philosophy or thought, that is ridiculous. It would be good for those
who insist on talking about uploading to first specify IN DETAIL
just what they aim to be uploaded into. In terms of argument, it's
hardly surprizing that the wonderful computer of the future will by
DEFINITION be capable of everything needed for uploading, and then some.

			Long long life,

			   Thomas Donaldson


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