[extropy-chat] Re: Identity and becoming a Great Old One

Brett Paatsch bpaatsch at bigpond.net.au
Sun Jan 29 05:26:07 UTC 2006

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:

>>> What difference does it make if it is 10^40 planck increments between
>>> when your neurons fire, or 10^53 planck increments between your cryonic
>>> suspension and revival?
>> Are *you* suggesting that it makes no difference?  A brain contains a
>> *lot* of neurons (perhaps not as many as 10^13 though I'd have
>> to look that up) and they don't all fire together.
> It does make no difference.  If your 10^14 synapses (10^11 neurons) fire
> two hundred times per second in absolutely perfect unsynchrony, there must
> be at least 10^27 planck intervals between the arbitrary time assigned to
> each firing.

I grant that that seems to make logical sense given your givens.

I honestly do not know if it is valid/appropriate to talk in terms of
planck intervals away from quantum physics. Frankly, this has the
feel of some sort of trick about it, perhaps a trick that might be
capturing the tricker as well as the trickee.

>> 5.39 x 10^-44 sec = 1 planck interval
>[i.e.  Brian Atkin's correction]

> Even calcium ions entering and exiting the neural fiber move far more
> slowly than elementary physical timescales, the dance of quarks.

Also granted. I don't know the relevant timescales but I think you
are probably telling the truth.

> If you permit that neural firings should stretch over vast periods of
> elementary time, why should not we regard a suspended cryonics patient as
> stretched out over an only slightly longer period of time?

I think I must "permit" that, on my understanding of how neurons fire,
that they do fire over what amounts to many multiples of time greater
than the amount of time in a planck interval. And that neurons firing is
what I understand gives rise to the sense of self and of consciousness.

But whilst matter chunks into discontinuous chunks such as elements
or subatomic particles, I don't know that time really does.

I suspect that you would say that that doesn't matter, that the calcium
ions *are* matter, the very same matter that is involved in a neuron
firing, and that I must agree that that matter chunks.

> The fallacy is that you are calling upon your human-scale perspective on
> time flow to decide what is "stopped" and therefore dead, and what is
> "moving" and therefore alive.


But if you are correct then your argument really says that there is no
such thing as me, Brett, or you, Eliezer, for that matter.

Don't you agree?

And if there is no such thing as Eliezer why would Eliezer want to
preserve Eliezer or any part of Eliezer into the future?

Isn't it logically absurd of *you* though to try to preserve a self or an
identity that doesn't exit?

Brett Paatsch


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