[extropy-chat] The Anticipation Dilemma (Personal Identity Paradox)

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Mon Apr 16 01:05:58 UTC 2007

On 4/16/07, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:
> Stathis writes
> > > Moreover, so far as *choices* are concerned, I can
> > > very, very seldomly do anything about the past.  But
> > > determining whether my duplicate will get $10M and
> > > deposit it in our account is important.
> >
> > But my anticipation module makes me worry more about
> > what happens to me than what happens to my copy in the
> > next room,
> Which could inspire you to error (if you are trying to maximize
> your well being). Insofar as choices go, under certain conditions,
> such as the above, the survival of your duplicate is optimal for
> you (rather than the survival of the instance having to make the
> choice).

I could say I am more concerned about my current self, due to the
anticipation issue. In the long term if duplication becomes commonplace
those people who count copies as selves will prevail, but this sort of
argument doesn't necessarily determine what we should do and certainly not
how we should feel.  Men who have thousands of children would ultimately
dominate the gene pool, but this doesn't mean that anyone will want to do
this, and it is in fact very rare that totalitarian leaders, who could if
they wanted to inseminate thousands of women, would actually attempt
this.Weare at the mercy of our neurophysiology, which did not evolve
in an
environment where cloning, duplication, artificial insemination etc. were

> in the same way as I worry more about the future than the past.
> > In fact, there is a sense in which my relationship to copies of me
> > in the past is the same as my relationship to copies of me in the
> > next room or in parallel universes that I can't access. Even if I
> > could change things so that in some alternate history things
> > worked out better for me, I wouldn't thereby anticipate the past more.
> Yes, that's right.
> > I have agreed with you all along that this sort of thinking is not
> > always rational and consistent, but there is no universal law
> > saying that our feelings have to be rational and consistent.
> Alas, right too. But we must be rational about our choices,
> and so just as in other areas of life, sometimes the urging
> of our feelings must be overriden.

I consider it "irrational" that I am concerned about the welfare about some
guy tomorrow who thinks he is me, has my memories and my possessions. If he
travelled to today in a time machine and cleaned out my/his bank account,
I'd be upset. It's just the fact that we don't coincide which allows me to
think that we are the same person, or that I will "become" him. You say that
all copies of me are me, but I should be more concerned about future copies
than past copies even if I can't affect the future copies more than the past
copies by my present actions. That is, you are trying to be "rational" as
far as possible but admit to some inconsistencies. I say that none of the
other copies are really me, because if we were all in a sinking ship
together each of us would fight for the last place on the lifeboat. However,
I accept that due to the way brains have evolved, some of these copies will
be regarded as me (those in the future, or at random some of those in the
future if the future is branching) while other will not. This isn't any more
"rational" than, say, wanting to have sex even though we know it won't lead
to reproduction; but it's the way our brains work.

Stathis Papaioannou
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