[extropy-chat] Avoid Too Much Change

Anders Sandberg asa at nada.kth.se
Sun Apr 8 18:01:33 UTC 2007

The Avantguardian wrote:
> Yes. But why would anyone want to go from infancy to
> adulthood in a blink of an eye? Or from from adulthood
> to omniscience for that matter? For me, the journey is
> the point and the destination is just the end of the
> journey.

Well, IQ 12,000 is a good start of the journey but it is hardly the end.

I wonder if we are not mixing up the identity issue with the "progress
must be earned" meme many bioconservatives sprout against enhancement.
That meme does contain a kernel of truth: if we gain abilities that are
not closely tied to the totality of our being (which normally happens when
we acquire them through training) the abilities are not really "ours" and
are not praiseworthy except instrumentally. Just being upgraded might
actually leave us pretty inefficient at using our upgrades. A cruicial
question to ask is how the upgrades actually get integrated into our

As for identity, people seem to value different things. Some are very
concerned about the continuity of their stream of consciousness, stream of
memories or even their physical body states. Others are more concerned
with some core aspect of the process producing these streams. I think I
belong to that category. "Andersness" to me represents a particular style
of generating new mindstates based on previous states and external
information. It is not even a full set of evolution equations, since
clearly my brain is changing over time while some core styles remain
pretty constant. Would they remain in Lee's scenario? I do not see any
information for or against it. I can very well imagine that just as some
individual fetal traits remain in my adult form so can my "Andersness"
remain in the IQ 12,000 version, but it seems equally possible that some
of this style might indeed be tied to properties that would tend to be
streamlined away.

In the end I usually ask myself "what makes the universe a more complex
and interesting place?" In this case it seems to be to downloadm since
there will be more intelligence and more ability to generate complexity
based on my old knowledge and the successor entity's new knowledge.

Another way to deal with the situation is of course to download, create a
(complete) mental model of one's pre-downloading self and examine whether
this model would approve of one's current mental state. In the case of
approval, there is no need to maintain the mental model and one can live a
happy posthuman life. In the case of disapproval, one can continue to
maintain the mental model as an independent subcomponent and live a happy
posthuman life and a happy human life in parallel.

[ This plan can be decided upon before downloading as a kind of contract
between one's current self and future self - there seems to be fairly
solid philosophical grounds to expect rational beings to want to honor
contracts between different timeslices of themselves, even when the future
timeslices are vastly more complex. But I would also expect that opinions
will differ on this. ]

Anders Sandberg,
Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics
Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University

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