[extropy-chat] Personal Identity Bis

Heartland velvethum at hotmail.com
Wed Apr 11 05:37:41 UTC 2007

>> There is my "life is an instance" view and Jef Albright's "agency" view which is
>> nothing more than "life is a type" view extrapolated to its logical conclusion.
>> IMO, only these two positions are logically consistent, yet mutually exclusive 
>> and
>> impossible to reconcile. It's quite apparent that you fall somewhere in between,
>> meaning that, to some extent, you've adopted both positions.

> I'm not sure, but you're possibly right.  I could very well fall in-between
> two other positions. I don't remember how Jef answers this key question:
> I *think* that he said that you could kill him and replace him by an
> exact duplicate that you made last night, and it would be no skin off
> his nose because the resulting entity would be just as good for future
> progress as he is.

I think that is correct. A standard "life is a type" view that majority of 
transhumanists subscribe to which he upgraded to....

> And maybe he said that whether it was him didn't
> really matter at all,

..as long as it was some "agent" promoting the same mix of values he used to 

>> Even though you acknowledge that a copy containing your memories
>> would be you, you still see a problem with this if the original brain was
>> "revealed to not have been destroyed at all."

> Ah, no, you misunderstand.  I think that you just misremember. To me
> that is no *problem* at all.  It's all the better!  I'm much happier to see
> that there are now two of me than only one of me.  Whether you unveil
> to me a duplicate you made of me 5 minutes ago changes not a whit
> the fact (to me) that I am 99.9999999999% the same Lee Corbin that
> I was 5 minutes ago.

Okay, so you see no problem with assigning single identity to many people after 

>> Either there can be at most one "the same" person or many "same" persons.
>> Either life is essentially an instance or a type. Either life is a process or 
>> just
>> data. One excludes the other and you can't have it both ways.

> I definitely agree with you that it is *process*.  Static data is useless if
> it doesn't get runtime.

And this is why I regard process as the substance of life. The *type* of that 
process is only how we describe it, yet people treat *that* as the thing that is 
necessary and sufficient to preserve in order to survive. A classic example of an 
abstract symbol being mistaken for the thing it refers to. A collection of static 
data describing personal experiences, values and beliefs is being mistaken for the 
physical process that allows this collection to exist.

While many instances (lives) can share the same type (personal identity) and death 
of a single instance doesn't necessarily kill the type, the expired instance does 
not survive just because other instances of the same type do. Each life is an 
instance therefore "life extension" should be about extending runtime of an 
instance (perhaps through gradual uploading) instead of being about extending the 
type of instance (destructive uploading, cryonics).

So, if you agree that process itself is far more important than its label (static 
data), then why do you think that staying alive is ensured by preserving that label 
(type/personal identity) instead of preserving the process itself (instance/life)?


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