[extropy-chat] Avoid Too Much Change

Thomas Thomas at thomasoliver.net
Sun Apr 8 09:14:47 UTC 2007

Lee Corbin wrote:

>Thomas writes
>>Lee Corbin wrote:
>>[...] misgivings about a heavenly afterlife.  My identity 
>>would need considerable purging for me to fit in.  
>Well, I would say that your self image must be incredibly negative
>if you cannot imagine being purged of your minor foibles without
>suffering identity change.  :-)   If [...] those foibles
>were corrected, do you really believe you'd be someone else?
I had my fundamental rejection of the religious beliefs commonly 
associated with admission to heaven in mind.  No, my identity has 
already survived numerous flaw corrections and I don't really identify 
with some of the flaws I've acquired with age!

>>Yet, surprisingly, I have a recalled a couple "memories" of past lives.
>Come now.  Surely those are just the result of your imagination working
>overtime. There have been no documented instances of people actually
>being able to directly draw upon the experiences of people long dead.
These "recollections" didn't lend themselves to verification and I think 
you'd find me at least as skeptical as yourself as to their veracity. 
 That my brain would produce these "movies" in response to requests for 
memories of facts -- that surprised me.  I think perhaps one part of a 
mind can lie to another part.  I don't have to believe it, though.  I 
filed it under "mental curiosities."  

>>Uploading with knowledge/memory enhancement would skew me Borgishly. 
>>With who's knowledge/memory would I blend?  How could you still call 
>>that me?  
>I would guess that you would not consider total immersion in an
>Icelanding language course to be identity threatening. Surely the
>Thomas, after the three years it took to master Icelandic, would
>still be the same person.   Few experiences really change one
>into someone else.  (I would not necessarily exclude The Army
>or Scientology, however  :-)
People sometimes aquire some personality traits from their teachers.  I 
thought of merging with other uploaded personalities as the mode of 
enhancement.  No, a tutorial wouldn't threaten identity.

>It took many years, if not a decade
>or two, for me to really emerge
Buddhist monks take years, even decades, (lifetimes?) to get free of 
self.  Your identity might be tougher than you think.  Then too, perhaps 
you haven't really emerged yet, but it's too early to know that.  

>>I suspect that identity might consist a good deal in what the subject 
>>considers his or her or its identity.
>On the other hand, I suppose it to be an objectively verifiable fact!
>That is, scientists of the future will be able to say definitely that 
>person X *is* person Y, or that person X is not person Y. Moreover,
>some measures of the degree of similarity will be available. Already
>we have measures that tell us how similar two binary strings are.
>So since we're all binary strings in some sense, eventually we'll
>have measures for how much change the identity of some
>creature has changed over time.
That gives the scientists a "measure" of certainty, but will showing an 
advanced ID card assure *you* integrity of identity?  

>[...] those who identify with other bodily parts
>below the neck, likewise, are simply wrong. 
I have reservations about losing the pattern of nerve connections to my 
hands.  A dancer might wish to preserve the pattern of connections to 
the lower extremities.  I guess I don't see the error.  The embodiment 
of personal experience in these patterns seems a far cry from toenails. 
 (Sorry, I can't seem to find a reference for this.  Maybe I hold a 
mistaken view.) -- Thomas

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