[extropy-chat] Probability of identity

Mike Dougherty msd001 at gmail.com
Wed Oct 11 03:31:19 UTC 2006

On 10/10/06, Russell Wallace <russell.wallace at gmail.com> wrote:
> I saw this when rummaging through the archives, and didn't see a reply,
> and it's been gnawing at me as the one such paradox I don't have a
> satisfactory answer for. I'm going to rephrase it in more vivid terms that I
> find help make it clearer:
> A: I turn you into a frog.
> B: I run off a copy of you. In case you're a threadist, I'll do it atom by
> atom, neuron by neuron, symmetrically, with thread of consciousness unbroken
> throughout, such that there will be two of you at the end and neither
> objectively nor subjectively will it be possible to tell which is the
> original and which is the copy (and in case you're a substratist, all copies
> will continue to be made of carbon compounds in water just like before, no
> uploading into silicon chips), so you should equally expect to be either.
> Then I will let one copy go free, but similarly multiply the other into 999.
> And then I will take all 999 to hell and make them write essays on
> postmodernist literature! Muhahaha!

Has anyone considered the computational value of 999 copies of your current
level of intellect and problem solving potential?

I don't know what the break-even point is on the value of existentially
"free" threads compared to hell-constrained threads, but it seems obvious
that the Satanic motivation for this thought puzzle would violate any
promise to clone only a minimal number of copies where this ratio would be
in your favor.  So I will assume that 999 extra copies is sufficiently many
extra threads of subjective Hell to outweigh the value of your meager
singular 'free' experience.

Would this puzzle be any different if the 999 "others" were not clones of

Is there a parallel here to the idea of licensing your pattern?  If the
evolved-over-(your-life)-time configuration of your brain is a pattern which
determines your approach to problem-solving, then allowing a second party to
possess a copy of that pattern gives them the ability to use it for their
own purpose.  Imagine everything you are capable of, including the things
which you are morally opposed to doing despite having the capability.  This
Satan character is employing those copies to do exactly those jobs.  (Assume
Satan grew tired of you postmodernist literature essays)  If the RIAA can
protect the pattern of bits that make up a CD, surely we must be allowed to
protect the pattern of our own neural algorithms.  This puts a new spin on
the term "Intellectual Property."
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