[extropy-chat] Personal Identity Bis

Heartland velvethum at hotmail.com
Thu Apr 12 00:03:04 UTC 2007

>> I'm not sure what you mean by "observer moments" here or why you think
>> instances
>> could be delineated from moment to moment and that they occur in
>> sequences. While
>> each instance has a beginning and end, there's no limit on how long it
>> should last,
>> is there?

> An observer moment, sometimes hyphenated as observer-moment or abbreviated
> as OM, is the smallest possible unit of experience. I believe the term was
> originated by Nick Bostrom. You can make it more concrete by talking about
> observer seconds or observer days or whatever. It eliminates ambiguity in
> these discussions about personal identity because we can always point to a
> specific collection of matter and say, "that's the entity with
> Heartland-type memories in New York at 5:15 PM on March 5 2006" and "that's
> the entity with Heartland-type memories in London at 3:02 AM on April 5
> 2006", and then argue about whether they are "the same person" or whether
> "Heartland has survived" during the intervening month.

That might work for static data such as memories but not for a physical dynamic 
process which is necessarily defined over time interval>0. The OM concept simply 
does not apply to a process. Behind the idea of OM is a false conviction that life 
is reducible to static data but it's quite obvious, at least to me, that life is a 
physical process that reduces only to itself or else it stops being life at all.

> Now, I must admit I am a little confused about your notion of instance and
> type. If a person undergoes destructive teleportation, would you say that
> the procedure creates two separate instances of the one type?

Not exactly. Instance of life #1 of type A goes into teleportation booth at t1. 
Instance #1 of type A is permanently destroyed at t2. Instance #2 of type A is 
created somewhere else at t3.

Instance obviously has to refer to a spatiotemporal process itself, not matter.

>> >>    A flat EEG that *stays* flat permanently means death. Patients can
>> >>    have a flat EEG due to eg. hypothermia and still recover fully.

>> Only copies recover. Obviously a copy will always suffer from illusion
>> that it's
>> the original but the evidence collected by an objective observer would
>> show
>> otherwise. This case is logically equivalent to a situation where you
>> download
>> patient's brain structure to a file, destroy the patient and then run many
>> instances of this file. The 1000th instance would suffer from the same
>> illusion.
>> Does the fact that a 2nd instance runs on the original body and 1000th on
>> some
>> artificial hardware make any difference? I really don't think so.

> So if you were dragged out of a freezing lake and were successfully
> resuscitated (or apparently so), would you consider that you were no longer
> the original you,

I would be lying to myself if I didn't. I-copy would enjoy life and feel sorry for 
what happened to my predecessor.

> and if so how would you introduce yourself and expect
> family and friends to treat you when they came to see you in hospital?

If I introduced myself as the original or a copy wouldn't change the fact the 
reinstantiated process would be a copy of the past process. If someone told me now 
that a person of my type suffered flat EEG, I would continue to introduce myself as 
the original for the sake of avoiding confusion unless I was sure the people around 
me would have the ability to comprehend my views about survival.

>>> 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.

> Here, however, your definition of death is very interesting, and is not all
> in keeping with medical practice.

Death has been a moving target, hasn't it? Its definition changes whenever we take 
into account new knowledge/understanding. I'm quite confident that many years from 
now, it will be common to pronounce living things as permanently dead whenever 
their minds stop.

> Sometimes people's EEGs do go quiet
> for a few seconds, but then the system gets kickstarted again.  At least
> that's what I've heard.  In cryonics, a boy was once rescued who had
> been underwater for 45 minutes, with heart stopped (and probably with
> flat EEG). But he came to.

New lives are not created exclusively at inception/birth.

>> 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.

> Yeah, nearly zero to me.  True, an instance of me does gain some satisfaction 
> that
> I am also getting benefit in other locations, but he also gains satisfaction from
> knowing that some people in Istanbul are being nice to other people there.

Good. Now try to imagine that *this* instance of the brain that makes sense of 
these words right now will not exist tomorrow. This means that the brain that 
allowed you today to derive benefit from knowing people in Istanbul are nice will 
not exist tomorrow which necessarily implies that you will not be able to derive 
benefit tomorrow. In other words, the amount of benefit will you be able to derive 
tomorrow from knowing that some people in Istanbul are being nice to other people 
there will be exactly zero.

And if the amount of benefit *this* instance of Lee Corbin derives from other 
instances of anything is always exactly zero *when this instance of Lee Corbin 
doesn't exist,* what's the point of having other instances of Lee Corbin created 
sometime in the future after you die?

>> 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.

> Of course, naturally, you are using *your* definition of "I' and "me", just
> as previously I was using mine.

You are an instance first, then a type. Benefit accrues only to an instance, not to 
a type which makes all the difference. After all, if you're stranded in the desert 
and praying for a glass of water, your thirst doesn't get quenched simply by 
*knowing* other people are drinking gallons of water somewhere else right now, 
doesn't it? Some definitions are not created equal or are, at least, less useful 
than others.


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