[ExI] Destructive uploading.

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Sat Sep 3 13:03:23 UTC 2011

2011/9/3 Florent Berthet <florent.berthet at gmail.com>

> I used to think that continuity of consciousness was obviously important
> for uploading. My reasoning was "if I create a copy of myself, and if I die
> in the process, that is as if I had created a clone of myself that would be
> able to live in exchange for my life. But I don't want my clone to survive,
> I want ME to survive."
> So for me, a Star Trek teleporter that disassemble atoms and reassemble
> them in an other place was out of the question, because it would kill the
> "real" me.
> Then I thought "but when I go to bed, I wake up in the morning made of a
> slightly different pattern of atoms (dreams have formed new memories, for
> example). Nevertheless, I feel like I'm "the same" person. But what if I had
> been scanned during my sleep, destroyed and instantly recreated in my bed? I
> wouldn't even know it. This wouldn't make a difference. So, what I am afraid
> of? And if there is no difference, do we "die" each night, waking up as a
> whole new person? Should I be afraid of fallins asleep?
> So I was like "well, my consciousness blacks out for several hours every
> night, but there's still this background activity that keeps the continuity
> on... so I'm the same person..." but things started to become not as sharp
> and obvious, something was bothering me.
> I thought: is continuity of consciousness even relevant? I mean, imagine a
> guy in a coma who goes brain dead for a few moments. If we were to bring him
> back to life, nobody would say "ha! He died! So he's not the same person
> now!". So, damn, continuity of consciousness is not relevant...
> The only things that could matter now are the actual atoms that compose the
> brain and body of the guy. So, imagine that during that brief time of brain
> inactivity, we could change one carbon atom of his brain and replace it with
> another carbon atom. That wouldn't change a thing, atoms are the same, we
> take one out and we put another back. Imagine that instead of one atom, we
> replace a bunch of atoms, well, same thing, nothing has changed. Hell,
> imagine we replace the whole brain by this process, it's still the same
> thing! Atoms are the same, the pattern is the same. Physically, nothing has
> changed.
> Another example: if we could instantly move all your atoms 1 cm to le left,
> I'm sure you would say you would end up the same person. Now if it wasn't
> instantaneous but if you were out of this world for a millisecond during the
> process, there's no reason you would object, what would have changed? What
> about out for one second? One year?
> That's when I realized that this whole "original" and "copy" thing was an
> illusion. There is no "real" me, there is just a pattern that creates the
> experience of me, a pattern that doesn't "belong" to me but just exists
> because atoms have arranged themselves in this particular way. This
> experience and consciousness is the same for every identical pattern,
> regardless of how these patterns evolved and where they come from. There is
> no "true" one, physics don't work that way. We must understand that there's
> nothing special about us.
> As counter-intuitive as it is, there is nothing to be afraid of concerning
> destructive uploading, the pattern that makes your consciousness is the only
> thing that matters. Gradually transferring a mind is no different that
> destroying it a recreating it. Nobody else would make the difference and
> neither would you, because there isn't any.

A good summary, but people on this list have been through this debate many
times and some tend to get agitated if it is restarted.

--Stathis Papaioannou
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