[ExI] The Anticipation Dilemma (Personal Identity Paradox)

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Tue Jul 17 02:48:47 UTC 2007

On 16/07/07, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:

> > I could put it the other way around: the similarity criterion is only
> > important to the extent that it allows us to anticipate the experiences
> > of future selves. I am similar to my copies in the past and in parallel
> > universes, but as I don't anticipate their experiences, I don't consider
> > that I survive through them.
> I claim that I can come up with (and have done so before, either
> here or elsewhere) two entirely identical physical outcomes
> wherein your feelings are not clear and unambiguous. Under one
> description of the proceedings (memory erasure, teleportation,
> copying, etc.) we end up with a physical system completely
> identical to another (obtained through memory additions,
> teleportation, etc.), and yet you might strongly anticipate being
> one of them and not being the other.
> If so, would this count against your system?  I.e., do you believe
> that anticipation is a firm enough ground upon which to base a
> concept of survival?

Memory erasure, for one, presents problems for the anticipation
criterion for survival. To be consistent, I would have to say that
memory erasure is equivalent to death, and that if I'm not worried
about memory erasure then I shouldn't be worried about death.
Equivalently, I could say that if I'm not worried about dying as long
as my copy in the next room lives, then I shouldn't be worried about
dying at all, or at worst I shouldn't be worried about dying as long
as there is someone to continue my projects after I'm gone.

> It might be easier to discard the notion of surviveability, or, as you
> suggest, to eliminate the desire to survive, but I don't want to do
> that! No, no no!   :-)     Reasonable or not, "being alive is better
> than being dead, all other things equal" is something pretty hard-
> wired in me, at least for now.

But it depends on what counts as survival. Anticipating the next
moment is what evolution has programmed us with to consider survival.
If you start messing with that programming, you could as easily
redefine survival to mean anything else, such as survival of a copy
despite your death or survival of the human race despite your death
and the death of all your copies.

Stathis Papaioannou

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