[extropy-chat] Personal Identity Bis

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Wed Apr 11 06:47:41 UTC 2007

Heartland writes

>> I'm much happier to see that there are now two of me than only one
>> of me.  Whether or not you unveil to me a duplicate you made of
>> me five minutes ago changes not a whit the fact (to me) that I am
>> 99.9999999999% the same Lee Corbin that I was five minutes ago.
> Okay, so you see no problem with assigning single identity to many people after 
> all.

Right, but I don't call them "many people".  I see no problem assigning
a single identity to many instances of the same person.

>> I definitely agree with you that it is *process* [that is essential]. 
>> 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.

I may be failing to understanding, especially the 2nd sentence. Yes, I agree that
"process is the substance of life", if I'm reading you okay.  So the process is,
after all, necessary and sufficient to achieve survival, right?  As I recall, though,
your answer is "no".  An interruption of the process for you is the same as
death, right?  If I interrupt the process, swap out the atoms, wait a million
years and then resume the process, to you that's a different process and so
your soul got lost in there somewhere, right?

> 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.

In my concepts, the survival of a single instance is relatively unimportant.
I live in all my duplicates. The loss of a single one is a tragic loss of runtime,
but if the remaining duplicates can garner compensatory runtime some way,
it's not a tragedy after all.

> 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).

What on Earth can you have against cryonics?  It's just a slowing down
of the process, not even a cessation any more than sleep is. Even at
liquid nitrogen temperatures, processes proceed (only more slowly).
Even the same atoms are used upon re-animation.

> 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)?

Yeah, we're hopelessly at odds here. I never did understand or appreciate
what distinction you're making. For me two processes can be identical (e.g.
two computer runs of the same program).  I admit that sometimes we speak
loosely---and so say things like *two* causally distinct executions are *two*
processes---but insofar as what is important, if I am one of them then I am
the other.


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