[extropy-chat] Avoid Too Much Change

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Mon Apr 9 00:12:27 UTC 2007

Stathis writes

> On 4/9/07, Lee Corbin wrote:

>> Let X be an entity that has utterly nothing in common with one.
>> Then a lot of people don't mind evolving into X provided it's
>> done slowly enough..., 
>> Even if I finally reveal that X is, say, Max More, they don't
>> seem to think of this as especially identity threatening. But if
>> that happened to them, I claim, then they'd be dead and
>> there would simply be more Max Mores. What possible
>> difference does it make whether the transformation 
>> was fast or slow?
> But you probably have a lot more in common with Max More
> than you do with your infant self.

Yes, that's true. And sorry for the poor word choices above that
seem to imply that I have nothing in common with Max More.
We are both male and above five foot three in height.
But in terms of *personal identity* I have nearly zero in common
either with my infant self or Max More.  Kill me and create either
one of those and I'm dead either way.

> This example is one more reason why there is no "truth of the
> matter" about continuity of personal identity from moment to
> moment.

I not only dispute that, I claim that you dispute it too.  I claim
that in every way that matters, your actions and beliefs reflect
a contention that Stathis Papaioannou is someone, and 
someone special in the sense that if he is purged from the
simulation, then in no real way does he "continue in other
people" or anything.

Please let us use the term "personal identity" to refer to that
continuity of staying alive that we all cherish (except the
suicidal).  Your "self" is that which the police will come after
tomorrow if you commit a crime today.  Your "self" is that
which you want to continue to exist in all our teleportation
and duplication experiments.  It is vapid to deny that there
is some sort of thing that you want to keep on living, and
I think that we should use "self", "I", and "me" in the same
way that 99.9999% of the world's people do.

>  Like free will, it's an illusion which is very important to maintain,
> otherwise we will be unhappy.

I really do doubt that illusions make much difference one way or
the other.  Your happiness level is set mainly by your genes, 
mediated by serotonin, etc. 

> Unlike those characters in films like "The Matrix" who complain
> that it's not real,

Yeah!  That's quite hilarious.  Here's what the writers must have
been thinking:  "We, the exalted and extremely intelligent writers
know full well that this is just as real insofar as experiences go
as a lower level "reality", but all the clueless brainless fools who
watch our movies have no idea."

> I don't care as long as it feels real. 

If it feels real, then it *is* real---and any other use of words should
be met with criminal prosecution.


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