[extropy-chat] Timeshifting

Harvey Newstrom mail at HarveyNewstrom.com
Sat Feb 28 05:56:34 UTC 2004

Robert J. Bradbury wrote,
> You are correct in that I have never had any extensive 
> experience with identical twins.  I have however reviewed a 
> fair amount of the literature regarding such features as IQ 
> and aging between siblings, non-identical twins and identical 
> twins where the genetic component comes out at 50-60%.

Genetic component of what?  IQ and aging have very little to do with
recovering someone's identity or personality.  There are millions of people
the same age or the same IQ.

Your theories about twins just don't match reality.  I doubt any recovery
procedure for me that would claim reproducing my twin brother was a 50-60%
accurate reconstruction of me.

I have no idea what you think you are recovering if it contains no memories,
experiences or data of any kind.  What exact personality traits do you think
are genetic enough to reproduce from DNA?  I would be very interested in
specific details and specific references to any literature claiming that
twins are similar personalities.  This just doesn't match any experience or
research I have seen with twins.

> I would disagree.  My sum-total knowledge dictates what I do. 
> The question is can one backtrack from what I do to who I am? 
> If I lose a chess game I can backtrack through a number of 
> moves until I reach the point where I understand where I made 
> a mistake. How is this any different from backtracking the 
> fact that I took my brothers to Club Med in Cancun many years 
> ago?  Why did I do that?  There are only a limited number of 
> answers.  A reasonable data-mining exercise should reveal my 
> motivations.

This is silly.  You think you did that because of some genetic component, or
even some mental component?  What if they asked you, and it had nothing to
do with your personality?  I really can't fathom the claim of reproducing
personality data from itinerary and credit card receipts.  I don't think a
visit to Club Med can help define your personality in any way.  What if you
were looking for someone there?  What if you hoped to get a job contact?
What if you were a reporter doing an expose story?  What if you had a sexual
interest in someone who was there?  What if you were just giving a friend a
ride there?  There are so many unrelated reasons that could lead to a visit,
that I don't think any personality trait is recoverable from such a factoid.

> Harvey, I have no problem with the fact that people are 
> non-deterministic. There is too much random activity in the 
> cortext IMO for determinism to be the primary case.  But I 
> would disagree that genetic profiles do not determine 
> motivations, feelings, etc. -- they are most probably not 
> single gene cases.  I recently posted a reference to oxytocin 
> and vasopressin are the key determinants to feeling "in 
> love". More probably there may be 5 to 10 genes operating in 
> a specific disease, perspective, etc.  This explains why 
> psychologists have such a hard time detecting connections.

When you start predicting when people will fall in love or who they will
fall in love with, I might start taking you seriously.  But how can this be
genetic?  Why don't twins fall in love with the same person?  Or at the same
time?  How can identical twins have different sexual orientations?  Having
the DNA simply can't predict personality.  Worse, twins with the same DNA
who grow up in the same house, go to the same school, take the same classes,
have the same circle of friends, etc.  They would have no difference in
their first decade of life that you can reproduce from records.  Yet the are
two separate people.  How can you recover either of them separately?  You
can't.  You simply can't do it.
> Without a very large statistical population and knowledge of 
> what genetic variants to study it is very difficult to draw 
> meaningful conclusions. There will be variations between 
> siblings.  Even within identical twins there may be 
> epigenetic factors contributing to differences. On top of 
> that there are experiences contributing to the differences. 
> But I would dispute the point that genetics is not laying a 
> strong foundation for "who I am?".

I don't understand the difference between all these differences you concede
and your basic question of "who I am?"  If you recover me supposedly, but
miss all those differences, I wouldn't consider it to be a very accurate

Can you define what you claim to be recoverable, what you claim is "who I
am?", and what you claim is variation between siblings?  I don't think we
can possibly be talking about the same things, given your claims and

> And that does not really go to the issue of whether 
> sufficient knowledge of how actions driven by mental 
> knowledge/state (say data-mining the behavior of 100 million 
> humans with complete genomic information and understanding) 
> can not allow one to derive Robert-B from Robert-A.
> Another way of looking at this problem is "How do you know 
> this message is being posted by Robert-A and not by Robert-B?".

I have no idea what you are talking about with Robert-A and Robert-B.  If
you try to recover one with reconstruction and end up with the other, I
would not consider this to be a viable recovery method.  Similarly, if you
try to recreate me in the future, and end up with a person more like my twin
brother, I would not feel this is a copy of me at all.  If the variation
would allow you to reproduce dozens of different human beings, all similar
enough to be siblings of mine, I still would not consider any of them to be
similar to me.

Are you talking about reviving specific people in the future, such as Sasha?
Or are you talking about creating offspring with slight similarities due to
genetic and personality traits?  I still don't believe recreation is
possible without memory, experiences and psychological data.  Recreating
physical appearance, DNA, and a lot of specific events just won't do it for

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