[extropy-chat] Personal Identity Bis

Heartland velvethum at hotmail.com
Wed Apr 11 08:16:09 UTC 2007

>> 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.

Yes, that's a better way of putting it.

> 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?

It's the life that ends, not soul. Life is a process and if the process stops, life 
does not continue unless you believe in souls. I don't which is why I don't believe 
in resurrections. When you die you stay dead.

>> 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.

Flat EEG means death. It has to. It's the only conclusion that doesn't lead to 
contradictions. Besides, it's consistent with a belief that there's no such thing 
as a resurrection.

>> 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.

I guess it's one of those either-you-get-it-or-don't kinds of things. Perhaps you 
might realize and appreciate the difference by focusing on the amount of benefit 
that each instance derives from existence of other instances. There's no doubt in 
my mind that this amount is always exactly zero. In other words, if I'm hungry, I 
will stay hungry regardless of how many other instances fill their stomachs with 
food. If I'm dead, I will stay dead regardless of how many other instances stay 
alive. If an instance was alive and then its brain exploded, that instance cannot 
have any type of experience (cannot derive any benefit) because the "machinery" 
that made that experience possible is gone. Am I getting anywhere here, Lee?


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