[ExI] Next moment, everything around you will probably change

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Fri Jun 22 14:24:36 UTC 2007

Gordon writes

>> What, the scenario that Jef and Stathis and A B and I were
>> talking about is absurd?
> It's your interpretation of the scenario that I find absurd. I agree with  
> those who say identity is about agency.

When two recent duplicates (of five minutes' vintage) discover
each other's existence and go at it with all the available weapons
at hand, you want to call it sheer murder (tho perhaps in self-
defence), and will not sanction even the musing that it's a form
of suicide.

I grant that the laws never evolved in the context of close duplicates, 
or what I would call multiple instances of the same person. But
perhaps they will in the far future, if/when some weird (delusional?)
program attempts to delete its exact copy and that copy (for some
strange reason) resists, and a Friendly AI overseeing everything
gets upset.  

>> I say it's suicide!!    :-)
> The defendant's suicide defense is absurd, your honor! As evidence of  
> murder The People present Exhibit A: the dead body and Exhibit B: the  
> murder weapon. According to witnesses, the two independent agents were  
> arguing, when suddenly one pulled out this knife and repeatedly stabbed  
> the other in the throat, killing him. The victim's death was involuntary,  
> thus it cannot be ruled a suicide. It was murder, your Honor, plain and  
> simple

Well, that would be the 20th century take. But come now. Let's suppose
that you were able to purchase the Acme Uploading Kit from a Google-
backed software development company. Sure enough, even though its
on your PC now, no one who talks to it can tell the difference between
it and you. That is, no matter how closely your loved ones, friends, and
relatives probe, it remembers everything about the old times as well as
you, has the same sense of humor, and so on.  

Now, if you delete it, is that really murder?  You can claim that the
machine and the software belonged to you, was your property, and
you can even exhibit the receipts to prove it. So even a primitive
early 21st century court of ancient evolved law would probably
let you off. 

(Of course, "suicide" seems an inappropriate term too, irony and
fun aside. But deleting an instance of yourself really is something
new under the sun.) 

So now you'll want to defend a variation of the "agency" point of
view concerning personal identity?  So how do you handle the
case I presented to Jef:  a policeman on duty is clearly constitutes
a different role (or agency?) than he does that evening when he's
out with friends and family (even if he's still packing).  Has the
agency changed?  Is he still the same person?  (Just trying to
get at what you might mean.)


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