[ExI] Yesterday's Mashed Potatoes

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Mon Apr 21 23:54:40 UTC 2008

On Mon, Apr 21, 2008 at 1:54 PM, Rick Strongitharm <godsdice at gmail.com> wrote:

> I see where AI and nanotechnology could make the copying work, but it seems
> that I, the original, don't change.

The use of "I" indicates the view is subjected.  There is *no* way to
distinguish a perfect copy from the original.  I.e., each one would
view himself/herself as the original "I."  This entire subject was
beaten to death on this mailing list back in the mid to late 80s.
Here is something I wrote over 30 years ago.

   "People have talked about making a copy of themselves and having the copy do
the unpleasant chores.  That's silly.  A good copy would be indistinguishable
from the original right down to desires.  You could neither make a copy to go
visit the stars nor one to stay on Earth that would be happy unless you didn't
care which you did (unlikely) or someone messed with their personalities
(unethical).  In fact, I think it would be unethical to distinguish between
copies (a case where the Golden Rule applies in its strongest form).  The only
case I can see where copies are justified is a situation where a person really
has no preference between two mutually exclusive choices.  The copying process
might best be fixed so as to split the original material in half, so neither of
the individuals coming out of the process would have a better claim to being
"original".  The ethical questions about copying people, reprogramming them,
mapping yourself into faster hardware, and the rights of constructed
personalities is a topic I would like to see getting more serious discussion."


And a dozen or so other places on the net.  You might read the discussion here:


You are trying to "teach grandma to suck eggs."  (Google it if you need to.)

Linguistics and religion are both areas of interest here.  A fair
number of us have taken at least one course in the former and the
latter is of considerable theoretical interest in the evolutionary
psychology sense of what is the origin of the trait, i.e., how did it
help the survival of our ancestors?

But before you post on the subject, at least read Pascal Boyer's book
and a few books on evolutionary psychology so you will have the



And you may need to read The Selfish Gene to have modern evolution
theory background even to read up on EP.


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