[ExI] Is a copy of you really you?

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Wed May 27 15:37:14 UTC 2020

Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Wed, 27 May 2020 at 05:37, Ben via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

>> OK, I've still not heard anything from anyone who subscribes to the 'a
>> copy of you is not you' school of thought, about my 'amoeba' question,
>> Any takers?
>> To reiterate the question:
>> If an entire person could be replicated in a similar way to how an
> amoeba reproduces (every organelle in every cell is reproduced and
> randomly assigned to one of two daughter cells, which then separate,
> maintaining all the relationships with all the other cells in the
> relevant daughter organism) how would you regard the two resultant people?
> Would they be two completely new people, unrelated to the original (who
> could now be regarded as dead), would they be two versions of the same
> person, each with an equally valid claim to be 'the original' (just as I
> can claim to be the 'original me' of 10 minutes ago), or would they be
> something else I've not thought about?
>> Or is this thought experiment somehow flawed, and not relevant to the
> question?
.> Any opinions?

> They would be two versions of the same person each with equal claim to
being the original.

This is the conclusion reached in the early 90s on this list.

There are still arguments as to when duplication of people should
happen.  I have argued that it should only be in cases such as crew
members for starships where you can't find enough people to fill them.

Robin Hanson thinks duplicated people will fill the labor market and
drive the value of labor to zero.  If the legal rule is to split a
person's wealth with copies, then if the equipment was inexpensive,
you could make beggers of the richest people by running off vast
numbers of copies.  Perhaps there will be a market for copy insurance.

In "the Clinic Seed" I expanded this slightly by allowing one active
copy in either the physical state or uploaded but not both at the same
time.  To muddy the waters, I allowed conscious to be continuous over
the upload/download process and memory to be passively updated in the
inactive physical state body.  (Given nanotech, this is not hard.)

This subject was beaten to death long ago.

Best wishes,


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