[ExI] Midazolam, Memory Erasure, and Identity

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Sun Jul 15 11:49:49 UTC 2007

On 15/07/07, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky <sentience at pobox.com> wrote:

> Suppose we permit the quantum theory of immortality, so that, in a
> tiny fraction of worlds, a successor to the original-location commuter
> would survive; the disintegrator would malfunction.  By QTI it would
> feel like the line of subjective experience definitely continued there
> (and it still annoys me that I can think of no non-subjective
> experiment which distinguishes between QTI and its theoretical
> alternatives).

The analogous situation in the midazolam example is that a backup
(which the drug will not affect) is made and run at the end of the
period for which you will experience memory loss, of the order of an
hour. If this backup is killed a minute later it is equivalent to the
original experiment sans backup, but with the duration of the memory
loss being a minute longer. So if you are OK about having midazolam,
your backup should be OK about being killed, as Lee suggests.

ISTM that you would have to subscribe to one of the following positions:

(a) Partial memory loss as experienced with midazolam is OK; dying in
the knowledge that a backup of your mind was made a short while ago is
also OK.

(b) Dying in the knowledge that your line of subjective experience
will never continue is bad, even if a backup was made a short while
ago; receiving midazolam is equally bad.

(c) If you accept (a), then you accept that the permanent end of your
line of subjective experience is not bad. If this was the main thing
that you feared when you feared death, rather than the fact that
no-one will be around to continue your projects after you are gone,
then you should no longer fear death, and the existence of a recent
backup should be irrelevant.

Stathis Papaioannou

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