[extropy-chat] How to be copied into the future?.

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Sun Apr 29 02:58:22 UTC 2007

Damien writes

>> > But the logical ramification of your belief is that if
>> > iyou were replaced by a copy that we made ten
>> > minutes ago, your number would be up, you'd be
>> > dead, and this other Randall who is not you would
>> > inherit your life. Right?
>> Assuming "replaced" is a euphemism for "killed and replaced",
>> yes.
> Randall's answer must so *obviously* be "yes" that I can't begin to 
> understand how anyone can deny it (as I've been saying here for more 
> than a decade).

In my case, it was driven by physical imagery supplemented
by a cold, hard belief in the completeness of physics. It
happened to me at age 18.  I had become an utter mechanist
who believed that *all* events and all processes in the universe
obeyed some set of physical laws, laws quite quite remote
from mere human life. From the galaxies to the quarks (which,
at the time, were not yet named), I believed that the possibility
of a complete physics description totally exhausted the reality
of whatever processes were taking place.

Then I happened one day to imagine a machine that made a
perfect copy, or a teleporter that didn't destroy the original.
There seemed to be a peculiar, insoluable dilemma:  which
one would I be, the copy or the original?  For according to
physics, there *ARE* no differences save location. And
location itself seemed irrelevant:  I had no trouble (nor does
anyone) instantly teleporting by spacewarp and so
instantaneously being there instead of here, even if I were
to be warp-teleported a million times a second, with only
a blur of locations evident to my senses.

Within a few days (I have diary entries of all this) I decided
that I would "be both and be neither".  That is, in some 
sense I had to be both my duplicate and the original, and
in some sense I was really neither. (That latter, of course,
is just a foreshadowing of those who believe that we are
not the same person from second to second.)

Soon, I also realized that the experience of a few moments
is expendable:  I'd be the same person even if I realized
that I had just taken midazolam or erased some memory
some other way.

So, that's how it happened. I eventually saw that if I believed
in the potential of total physics comprehension of reality
(and I do not mean comprehension in the sense of understanding,
but rather of "accounting for") then the symmetry of the physics
demanded that I adjust my intuitions, and recognize that it made
no sense to say that I was one of them and not the other.  Or
rather, that I was each of them at least to the same degree that
I will be the same person tomorrow that I am today.

Just in case you really *did* want to pursue an understanding


> I can't begin to understand how anyone can deny it (as I've been
> saying here for more than a decade).

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