[extropy-chat] Timeshifting

Charlie Stross charlie at antipope.org
Sat Feb 28 17:19:26 UTC 2004

On 28 Feb 2004, at 12:59, Robert J. Bradbury wrote:
> Why is this an interesting topic to discuss?  Because
> it relates to the question of "How much of a person
> is required to really have that person?" which in turn
> relates to how much oneself can be recovered after one
> has a stroke or goes through cryonic suspension
> and reanimation?

Funnily enough, I've been speculating along similar lines myself. (The 
results are due to show up in two SF novels, "Accelerando" and 
"Glasshouse", due from Ace in 2005 and 2006.) It gets particularly 
interesting when you consider the difference between "documented" and 
"undocumented" people -- those who leave an extensive paper trail as 
against those who don't -- and then those people who've had portions of 
their life logged by tools such as MyLifeBits.

If you spend the last twenty or thirty years of your life with 
*everything* you hear or say or see or do being recorded by your PDA's 
sensor suite and indexed for your retrieval, then I reckon it'd be 
possible to create an R-you duplicate that was arbitrarily accurate for 
that particular period, with hazy memories of stuff that had occured in 
early life.

Sort of like the way we experience our life and memories. Right?

Now let's go a step further and turn the Doomsday Argument (see
http://www.anthropic-principle.com/faq.html) on its head. Rather than 
postulating the end-point of the sequence of existence as being 
*extinction*, as commonly stated in the Doomsday Argument, what happens 
if we postulate the end-point of the sequence as individual 
non-extinction? That is: we know that the boundary condition of our 
individual lives is death (non-existence).

Nick Bostrom's Simulation Argument 
(http://www.simulation-argument.com/) suggests that we are living in an 
ancestor simulation. Because we know that we are human, and not 
post-humans capable of creating such an ancestor simulation, we can use 
the Doomsday Argument to demonstrate that we are among the last humans 
living *before* the creation of the first ancestor simulations.

(I'm assuming that the end-points of existence for posthuman 
intelligences may include options less straightforward than 
old-fashioned death and consequent total loss of conscious information 

If you bolt all this together and articulate it, you find:

* We are probably/we appear to be living close to a singularity

* After this singularity, the boundary conditions of human existence 
change radically

* Ancestor simulation is one of these changes

* We are probably living in an ancestor simulation

* Our most recent memories are clearest because the technology used to 
record them matured between our current time and the singularity; our 
earlier memories are hazy and vague because they're largely 
interpolated guesswork rather than accurate simulation

Can someone please spot some holes in my reasoning before I go mad? I'm 
not sure I enjoy living in a Philip K. Dick novel ...

-- Charlie

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