Apr 23 2013

The Continuity Problem

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436 Responses to “The Continuity Problem”

  1. BillyJoe7on 23 Apr 2013 at 8:42 am

    On the other hand, I don’t understand what the difference is. Why would it matter if you are transferred all at once or gradually over a period of time. And over how long a period of time would you be happy with? A minute, a day, a month, a year, several years?

    What constitutes “you” is a particular brain state, nothing more. If that brain state can be duplicated somewhere else, that is as legitimately “you” as the original “you”. Even if the original “you” is retained. If the duplicate is produced on a table right next to the original and a random switch made it impossible to say from their positions which is the original and which is the duplicate, there would be no other way to tell the difference. Both are “you” – meaning that particular brain state we started with (only for a moment though, because then those two identical brain states would immediately commence changing in different directions because of different experiences).

    I have put the word “you” above is “scare quotes” as Daniel Dennett calls them. That is because it is a term straight out of the dualist’s lexicon and is used by monists only for convenience. However, when considering questions such as the above, we must be careful not to mistake the convenience for the real thing. There are only brain states. There are no souls/spirits/persons inside brains controlling brains and making decisions.

  2. Marc David Barnhillon 23 Apr 2013 at 8:42 am

    Steve, I’m puzzled by your puzzlement at the sleep analogy. Clearly those who use it are thinking only of the subjective experience of continuation, not of the physical substrate. As a young person I fell into that camp—but, far from seeing this as justification for optimism about the prospect of digital immortality, I became skeptical of the subjective experience itself, and loss of continuity actually made me afraid to go asleep when I was younger. While I’m longer plagued by dread that me-as-conscious-iteration is destroyed each night and reconstructed as a copy each morning, I’m wondering if you can explain further about why it’s the physical substrate rather than subjectivity that really matters here.

  3. Steven Novellaon 23 Apr 2013 at 8:52 am

    BillyJoe – you are addressing the wrong question. Yes, the copy has the subjective experience of being you. No problem from it’s perspective. But you have not moved to the copy – there is the original you and a copy. If you were destroyed in the process, it doesn’t matter what happens after, you have been destroyed. A copy has it’s own independent existence. It has the same state as you, but it’s not you.

    Also, you misunderstand the hybrid brain idea. You are not being “transferred” into an AI, you are merging with it, in the same exact way that your two hemispheres are merged into one brain.

    Marc – the answer is in my premise. You are your brain. As long as their is physical continuity it doesn’t matter if there is functional continuity.

  4. BruceBogtrotteron 23 Apr 2013 at 9:02 am

    @Marc – Seconded.

    I’m trying to work out how I would feel if I ever discovered that someone had without my knowledge put me through a transporter the previous night in my sleep.

    I was waiting for Steve, or one of the Rogues on last week’s show to mention Hugh Jackman’s character from The Presitge. That movie’s (albeit magical) portrayal of the concept is always slightly haunting to me.

  5. Steven Novellaon 23 Apr 2013 at 9:26 am

    Bruce – The Prestige is an interesting portrayal. Would you go into the machine knowing that there was a 50% chance you will drown and die, as long as a copy of you continues?

  6. locutusbrgon 23 Apr 2013 at 9:53 am

    Is this even possible? Doesn’t the Heisenberg uncertainty principal invalidate the concept. No matter how thoroughly you try to copy something on the sub atomic level it will be different therefore not a true copy. In star trek they dismiss this with the “Heisenberg compensators”. I may have physics naivete but if it takes at least some measurable time to copy something, and given the uncertainty principal is it actually a true copy? Would the differences produce a measurably different consciousness or just average out to undetectable?
    Beyond that If artificial consciousness interacts with the environment during it’s production by definition it will be distinctly different than the “mother” consciousness.

    Assuming instant transfer, and perfection of copy, it may not be a problem. But very much like a clone. DNA may match but consciousness is different. Much more subtle difference in digital consciousness than a clone but still different.

  7. BruceBogtrotteron 23 Apr 2013 at 9:59 am

    Would I risk anhiliation for a succesful career in magic, or the benefits of instantaneous travel?

    Well, my biggest fear of death is the grief of those I leave behind. With that being a non-issue, the pain I will experience in the process is, admittedly, a non-trivial factor, but I don’t know how to place value on the obliteration of self.

    AI hybrid solutions aside, it seems to me that some finite pain followed by oblivion is my certain destiny in the next 0-70 years. If that inevitability arrived sooner rather than later, in exchange for some certain net benefit to the world outside of my own self, maybe I’d be tempted, but it sounds awfully nihilistic now that I’ve said it.

  8. evhantheinfidelon 23 Apr 2013 at 10:06 am

    This reminds me of an episode in Star Trek: Enterprise where one of the guys on board Enterprise was stolen to have his brain added to this massive neurological computer being constructed. So that the rest of the crew wouldn’t notice his absence, the computer made a perfect copy, but dead. Now, keep in mind that the computer’s technology had much more sophisticated technology than Enterprise, and Enterprise already had a transporter. The ship’s doctor figured out that the copy was a copy because some cells that should have still been alive if the crew member had died were also dead. Someone made the comment that it was amazing how perfect copies of life could be made dead, but no one was able to make living copies of living things. WHAT ABOUT THE TRANSPORTER?????

  9. evhantheinfidelon 23 Apr 2013 at 10:08 am

    Don’t make fun of me for asking, but why’s continuity important? Say an astronaut passes the event horizon of a black hole, managing to stay intact. From everyone else’s perspective, time for the astronaut had stopped. Then, the black hole evaporates away, and time for the astronaut starts again. From his perspective, he would still be him, his continuity never was broken. To everyone else, he would be someone else, since his continuity had been broken. It doesn’t WORK!!

  10. jocorokon 23 Apr 2013 at 10:46 am

    The error is when you’re personalizing the consciousness.
    It’s copying itself from one part of the brain to another all the time already. If not that, the atoms in the brain get replaced everey xx years.
    That it somehow feels unique and continuous is an illusion.
    It’s extremely hard to get this concept for some people. Because it’s not only a neurological/biological, but also a theoretical/mathematical problem.
    This “3″ is not the same as this one: “3″. But the three-nes is the same. If I substract a 3 from that 3 and then add another 3 I get the same 3?
    My consciousness is your consciousness.
    No, I’m not on LSD. I’m just saying that you can’t answer this with a biological answer because it’s not a biological question (only).

  11. Ori Vandewalleon 23 Apr 2013 at 10:56 am

    This is a topic I’ve given a lot of thought to over the years. I recently had a debate about it due to this SMBC comic:

    http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=2908

    I think I’ll try to adapt what I wrote then, because I don’t feel like typing all that again. In short, however, I mostly agree with Dr. Novella.

    Say we perfect some sort of quantum teleportation that creates a perfect copy of you and does not destroy the original. There are two identical instances of you in two locations. Do you see through both sets of eyes? If the answer is no, then killing yourself and creating a copy means killing yourself, the end. If you accept the premises of this argument, then the conclusion follows inevitably. There are a couple of points you can use to counter, however. You can postulate a soul that is transferred, for example. You can argue that you *do* see through both sets of eyes, but then you’d need to propose a physical mechanism by which that occurs. You can’t go with continued entanglement, because decoherence happens way too quickly. Or you can ask the question, what is it that is you that is seeing through those eyes? And that’s where things get tricky.

    Some may argue that while the “original you” is dead, because some version of you survives, it doesn’t really matter. But another thought experiment shows why that’s a bad idea. This time, imagine a poor copy. Imagine that your entire life experiences have been recorded — every thing you see and hear from birth to death. And when you die, a very, very gifted actor reviews all of the footage of your life and then takes your place so convincingly and so faithfully that no one can tell the difference. Are you still alive? Your answer is almost certainly no. Which means that copies of the original are not the real thing. And you are dead.

    Now, obviously, there is some line between an actor taking your place and a quantum teleportation. This gets to the real heart of the matter, which is that consciousness is a fuzzy thing. You can start to offer counter arguments such as: are you still you when you wake up the next morning? Or from one moment to the next? How is consciousness maintained at all? Or is it? Theseus’ ship and all that. The only good answer is that consciousness is a high level abstraction of various phenomena that we observe. And what we observe is that, at some point, consciousness does not persist. There is a certain level of elasticity, such that we say the person you are as a child is the person you are as an adult, despite the great differences in personality, but that at the moment of death, your consciousness snaps.

    There are other things we describe in this fashion. Take matter, for example. Matter is elastic, and can be pulled and squeezed to various degrees, but eventually it will become deformed. And it won’t go back to its original shape. But really, it’s still just atoms, and the degree to which a lump of matter can be deformed is an emergent property of that lump’s chemical makeup. We can say that a certain spring has a spring constant of x newtons/meter, but the spring law is an approximation, and that constant doesn’t really describe anything fundamental. It’s just a useful description for a limited range of values. Consciousness is much the same. We can make up useful terms to describe consciousness, such as awareness and a sense of self, but the reality is a much more complicated, possibly impossible to analyze system.

    The upshot is this: consciousness is defined by its continuity and its self-referentiality. After a certain point, we say that this continuity is violated, such as by death. Or the self-referentiality is violated, such as by, I don’t know, brainwashing or a spike to the head that manages not to kill you. A copy that has your memories implanted into it seems to me to violate the approximated limit of what we call continuity. You may disagree with that, but then you have to propose increasingly absurd scenarios in which we know for a fact that consciousness is maintained. And, of course, there is the fact that we can never really *know* that consciousness is maintained, and we’re just basing this on our somewhat arbitrary classifications.

  12. pumberkinon 23 Apr 2013 at 10:58 am

    I have to side with BillyJoe7 on this. Yes, the physical “you” would be destroyed and the physical continuity would be destroyed, but why should that matter?

    I think that mental continuity is all that should matter, and why do the mental processes have to occur on a continual physical platform?

    When your old body dies, you lose experience, but a new body starts to experience when it’s turned on. What’s important about “you” thus lives on. Why should we care about the old “you”?

    I think Steve demonstrated that physical continuity is broken, but has not argued why physical continuity is important. It seems like a materialist version of the soul – somehow your biological body has some sort of quality that is essential to “youness” that is absolutely paramount to your identity. Whereas I would argue that the software is the only important part worthy of preservation.

  13. Bronze Dogon 23 Apr 2013 at 11:00 am

    I’m not really concerned with the type of physical continuity described here. I’m me because the matter and energy in my brain is in a certain arrangement that leads to my behaviors and thoughts, not because any particular molecules are involved. Reproduce my recognizable features to a high enough accuracy, and you’re reproducing me. I don’t see any real philosophical challenge behind saying that a copy of me is also me. In fact, it seems rather tautological that a copy of me would be me because, well, it’s a copy and thus it has all the characteristics that define me.

    It gives me the jibblies thinking about stuff like this, but I think it’s an irrational response grounded in instinctive dualism.

  14. csbrownon 23 Apr 2013 at 11:08 am

    A massive asteroid is bearing down on earth and scientists tell us that all human life will be destroyed in an instant. There is, however, one way out. A secret government program has developed a transporter system that will allow a few skeptics and their families to be transported (a’ la Star Trek) to a secret self-sustaining moon base run by The Men in Black :)

    Your dilemma: Do you take this offer or do you decline since your continuity will have been disrupted and you are dead in either case?

  15. MTCon 23 Apr 2013 at 11:39 am

    You haven’t addressed the main question, Steve, why do you consider physical continuity to matter? The fact is, to call one version “the original” and the other “the copy” has no meaning when you go down to the level of the individual particles. The particles aren’t labelled, if you take a particle from the original and a particle from the copy, you would be unable to tell the difference, they are at the same time both originals or both copies, there is no fundamental difference between them. Continuity itself is an illusion. The fact of the matter is that all the time you are being destroyed and another you is coming into existence slightly different from the you that existed before. There is never any of this magical “continuity”.

    The difference between the copy of “you” created by a device analogous to a Star Trek transporter and the “you” it just destroyed would be much smaller than the difference between the “you” just after you wake up and the “you” just before you sleep. That is the intent of the sleep analogy.

    The solution you propose reminds me of this analogy: say you own a sword, then the blade breaks and you replace it with another blade, and then the hilt breaks, and it is replaced with another hilt. Is this the same sword you started with, does it have the magical physical continuity, the unbroken chain, that you so want it to have? What if you take the broken hilt and the broken blade, and fix them and put them together again? Which one is the “original”? Which is the “copy”? Which has the unbroken chain of continuity? (This is based on an analogy I heard or read somewhere, possibly even on the SGU, and I have no idea if the original used a sword or not, I can’t find it right now.)

    And here’s an alternative argument, if you still cling to the idea of an unbroken chain of continuity… why do you not count the information copied and transferred from the original count as part of an unbroken chain of continuity from one to the other? Exactly how much of the original do you need to keep to have this magical unbroken chain?

    All of what I have said is true based on the understanding I have of physics. If any of what I have said is wrong, I would very much like to know it. The important part, or side, of the argument (that continuity itself, like consciousness, is just an illusion created by the brain) seems to be left out whenever the subject comes up on the SGU.

  16. locutusbrgon 23 Apr 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Depends on who the other skeptics are. Maybe death is preferable. If Will Smith is on board I might be too. Would be fun to meet him.

  17. Marshallon 23 Apr 2013 at 1:02 pm

    Steve: “But you have not moved to the copy – there is the original you and a copy. If you were destroyed in the process, it doesn’t matter what happens after, you have been destroyed. A copy has it’s own independent existence. It has the same state as you, but it’s not you.”

    I don’t understand this argument. When you say “you have not moved to the copy”–what do you mean by that? That is not a well-defined statement. What is the “you” that has moved? That is the entire essence of what we are arguing about, so you’re immediately begging the question.

    The reason I hate this continuity problem is because it’s pretty much the one philosophical discussion that I can’t wrap my head around. I’m with you that I would never step into a teleporter, because it seems that physical continuity is of utmost importance. But–I think the reason I think that is because I have a flawed grasp of what my own consciousness is. And even though I am aware of this flaw, I still cannot overcome it.

  18. Steven Novellaon 23 Apr 2013 at 1:15 pm

    Physical continuity does not matter to the rest of the world – they will not be able to tell the difference between the original you and the copy. But it will matter to the original you, whose existence has ended.

    The matter that makes up your brain does change, albeit slowly. Which protons and electrons make up your brain is irrelevant. That is not the point.

    There is, I think, almost a dualist logic to the notion that only the information matters, as if the information is the essence of you. But if you are a materialist, then your consciousness is the real-time functioning of your brain. Continuity does not mean never-changing, it just means that the original brain continues it existence. A copy, no matter how it is made, does not have continuity with the original.

  19. Ori Vandewalleon 23 Apr 2013 at 2:26 pm

    Versions of the Ship of Theseus argument are being bandied about here. It’s a powerful analogy, but I think there are at least two counterarguments to it.

    The first is to think of consciousness as a time-dependent function. If the changes between moments of time are infinitesimal, then consciousness is continuous. If there are breaks and holes, however, then consciousness is discontinuous and, like a step function, can’t really be described by a single function.

    This might seem like a silly analogy, but I think it has value. No matter what, consciousness is a thing, even if it’s an illusion. And even if the illusion is that consciousness is continuous, that illusion is continuous. So there is something continuous behind the phenomenon we call consciousness. I think it’s reasonable to conclude that if you inject discontinuities into that thing, whatever it is, then whatever comes out after that discontinuity has to be substantively different.

    The other argument is that humans have something ships (seem to) lack: self-awareness. On a basic level, our brain is constantly sending out pings and getting responses to let it know the rest of the brain is still there. It never fails to get a ping back, even if you slowly replace parts of the brain over time. But if your body is destroyed completely and rebuilt somewhere else, then a bunch of pings are never going to be received, so the self-awareness aspect of being conscious is gone.

  20. Rayon 23 Apr 2013 at 2:32 pm

    FYI. “Kiln People” by David Brin addresses some aspects of the above and I found it well written.

  21. starikon 23 Apr 2013 at 2:32 pm

    “the original brain continues it existence”

    What makes the brain you possess at this moment the same brain as the one you had yesterday in any meaningful way? Is it that they are made up of mostly the same atoms? Some have been replaced. Or is it the organization of the atoms, the “software”, that gives you the sense of continuity? If it is simply the physical matter that matters, you have already died many times over. If its the software that matters, then an exact copy is you just as much as the original.

    Our self isn’t a discrete thing traveling forward through time. We are a wave in a sea of matter. Just like a wave in the ocean, from one moment to the next we are composed of different molecules than the moment before, constantly being replaced by new “selves”.

  22. Enzoon 23 Apr 2013 at 2:35 pm

    How do people feel about the transporter continuity dilemma if the very same atoms and particles were used to reconstruct the new you at the new location? Now you are not so much a copy as a re-build.

    I always bring this up when having the continuity discussion, and it’s a polarizer.

  23. chrisjon 23 Apr 2013 at 2:40 pm

    Steve, you said that each hemisphere is a separate functioning brain. What if it was possible to remove one hemisphere and transplant it into a new body. So, one body has your left hemisphere and the other body has your right hemisphere. Let us just stipulate that this is a real possibility for the sake of argument. In this case do you think that you ceased to exist, that there are two copies of you, or that one or the other person is the real you?

  24. DCSLon 23 Apr 2013 at 2:54 pm

    I think the more interesting aspect of the continuity problem is the slow replacement problem. You have a ship. Over the next 100 years as you repair and modify the ship, and at the end of 100 years ever part in the ship has been replaced. Is it still the same ship? Someday we might able able to do the same thing to a brain. Over a few years or whatever nano machine slowly replace each neuron until you brain is 100% nano-neurons. Are you still you? Some of this already happens in that all the atoms that make you up change over your lifetime.

  25. Steven Novellaon 23 Apr 2013 at 2:57 pm

    If you were able to divide the brain in two you would not have two copies of you, you would have two new entities, each would have part of your identity, memories, etc, but both would be missing significant neurological function. Each would be a partial “damaged” version of you.

  26. chrisjon 23 Apr 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Oh, by the way, the point about sleeping comes up a lot because it is the first counter-example to John Locke’s theory of personal identity that most people think of. His view is that our identity consists in “the same continued consciousness.” In Locke’s view identity does not consist in our body, because if you imagine exchanging consciousness with another person, a la freaky friday, then it seems right to say that you have a new body, and not that you have a new consciousness. Of course, neuroscience wasn’t really around in Locke’s day, so he would not have thought of brain continuity.

    I don’t get why you think physical continuity is necessary. Consider the following scenario. I am guessing that if we transplanted your brain into a robot (let’s assume this is possible), then you would say you still exist with a new body, right? The brain is you. This would obviously require giving you anesthetic. So there wouldn’t be straight up continuity of consciousness, but once you woke up in the robot body, you would have all the same memories and personality traits. If you are willing to accept that, then why not the following?

    Suppose we knock you out with anesthetic again. But this time we use our handy dandy brain neuro-connection scanner to map out all the connection in your brain. We now upload that pattern into a computer in the robot body instead of transplanting your brain into it. We then destroy your original body and brain. Do you want to say that you didn’t survive this? The robot would have all your same memories right up to the moment you went under on anesthetic. It would feel to the robot, that it went unconscious in your body and woke up in a robot body. Isn’t that still you?

  27. Steven Novellaon 23 Apr 2013 at 3:20 pm

    This is the same thing I originally discussed. The robot would certainly feel as if it were me, but it would not be. I would be dead the moment you destroyed my brain.

  28. chrisjon 23 Apr 2013 at 3:31 pm

    Okay, fair enough. I think these things are difficult to argue, because we are just relying on our intuitions about cases. One thing I will say is that this psychological view of personal identity need not be dualist. You can insist that the information has to be physically realized in some way and I think this is the right thing to say. I think we agree on that much. I think we also agree, that the self need not be composed of exactly the same atoms. Where we seem to disagree is whether there has be some actual physical contact between the new realizer of the self and the old one. I don’t see why that matters. For example. In my scenario above would it help if the brain scanner and the robot’s computer and your brain were all touching one another as the upload process happened?

  29. ConspicuousCarlon 23 Apr 2013 at 3:36 pm

    I don’t see why physical continuity is so valuable (as far as it mattering more than conscious continuity) as a matter of logic. It sounds like a good legal argument, and it certainly appeals to intuition. What if you are frozen or anesthetized or whatever, chopped down the center into exactly two pieces, then reassembled and awakened? Is that physical continuity? What about 3 pieces?

    I don’t like any of this stuff either, but physical continuity as we now know it seems more like mental comfort than logic.

  30. PNJeffrieson 23 Apr 2013 at 3:51 pm

    Awesome. This is one of my favourite stayed-too-late-at-the-pub topics of conversation, so I’m delighted to see it crop up here.

    “But it will matter to the original you, whose existence has ended.”

    Ah, but it only really ‘matters’ if the existence of ‘you’ is not going to end anyway – that there is some perceptive core of our being (a ‘soul’, perhaps) that is persistent. To my knowledge we don’t really have any evidence that is the case, however. The only thing that really links ‘me’ now with ‘me’ a year ago is that we share (most of) the same memories, but that is also true of a teleporter-clone. What I think of as being ‘me’ could just as easily be an entirely temporary phenomena and ‘I’ will have ceased to be by the time I reach the end of this sentence (*Urk!*).

    If a teleporter creates a copy of me then I’m not going to suddenly have my perspective from before the teleportation shift to that new body. But equally, we don’t really have any reason to think that my perspective from before the teleportation is going to be the exact same as the one that resides in the initial body after the teleportation if it were not destroyed. The post-teleportation me will *think* it is the same being, but the pre-teleportation me is not going to have anything to say about the matter because that precise version of me will have ceased to exist either way.

  31. evhantheinfidelon 23 Apr 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Even the whole continuity thing doesn’t resolve all of the problems. What if, without breaking continuity, an individual smoothly breaks into two identical copies?

  32. evhantheinfidelon 23 Apr 2013 at 5:32 pm

    I view “me” or “you” as the end product of whatever is producing it. It’s like when someone writes a book. Even though the copy you buy in the store probably isn’t the copy that they originally wrote, it’s still their book (talking intellectual property). Similarly, if my mind is copied in one of the manners described above, that’s just a different copy of “me”. The changes that occurred later would be like the new releases or remasters (maybe the special illustrated edition!) of me.

  33. BillyJoe7on 23 Apr 2013 at 6:12 pm

    Ori (and Steven)

    “Say we perfect some sort of quantum teleportation that creates a perfect copy of you and does not destroy the original. There are two identical instances of you in two locations. Do you see through both sets of eyes?”

    No. The instantiation of “you” in the original sees through the original eyes and the instantiation of “you” in the copy sees through the copy eyes. But the instantiations are identical. They are both “you”. Suppose “you” step into the teleporter and a random switch determines if either nothing happens and the original “you” steps out of the machine, or the original “you” gets vaporised and a copy “you” is put in place of the original “you”. “You” would have no way of telling whether “you” are the original “you” or the copy “you”. Because, in both cases, the feeling of being “you” would be absolutely identical. And there is no way of explaining away this inconvenient fact of the matter. There is no story that you or Steven can spin to make your version coherent. Which is why your version has to be incorrect.

  34. ConspicuousCarlon 23 Apr 2013 at 7:12 pm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYkrMCxXsh0

    I like Dan Dennett’s segment in this movie. He gets both a robot brain and a real brain, and can switch between them.

  35. AndrewTysonon 23 Apr 2013 at 7:37 pm

    You are a product of your biology and your experiences. You change on a daily basis. I am not the same I was yesterday because I’ve had different experiences. The continuity is what creates the illusion of my self being the same for the 30 years I’ve existed.

    If we create a copy of me a la Star Trek transporter method, without killing the original me, we will have 2 exact copies for one immeasurable moment in time. At any point after that moment they will not be exact copies because they will have different experiences.

    A hydrogen atom is not the exact same entity as another hydrogen atom because of locality. Location is defining information.

  36. jasonnybergon 23 Apr 2013 at 7:57 pm

    IMHO calling a particular instantaneous arrangement of a particular set of atoms “me” (while calling the exact same instantaneous arrangement of a _different_ set of atoms “_not_ me”) smacks of dualism the same way duallists ascribe some “qualia” to their consciousness that can’t be found in the particular instantaneous arrangement of atoms in their brain.

    I personally think that Steve is reacting to a hypothetical scenario in which not enough scientifically vetted detail about the process of teleportation is available to allow him to feel comfortable enough to undergo the process… I.e. he’s worried about being hamburgered during the trip, or merged with a fly.

    If the scenario is posited as “Absolutely Perfect Teleportation In All Respects”, with “Zero Chance Of Failure”, I doubt he’d _really_ have a problem with it, given the potential benefits of the technology sufficient to fulfill that advertisement.

    The way I see it, the issue is not about IF a “me” is “destroyed” during the process; it’s whether I should CARE if a “me” is destroyed during the process… And that’s a 100% subjective question.

    Jason

  37. Gareth Priceon 23 Apr 2013 at 8:18 pm

    According to physicists (see eg Brian Greene’s “The Hidden Reality”) in some of the (perhaps) more speculative ideas in physics and cosmology, there may already exists exact copies of us in a parallel universe.

  38. Steven Novellaon 23 Apr 2013 at 8:23 pm

    Let’s say I can make a perfect scan of your body without causing any damage. Then I use that information to make a perfect copy of you. The copy experiences being scanned and then appearing in the replication booth. You experience being scanned and then a copy of you appearing in the replication booth.

    Now I point a gun at you and say that I need to vaporize you. Do you mind? If so, why?

    What if I say, “Now, I have to vaporize one of you.” Do you care which one? How is this any different than being vaporized as part of the scanning process?

    Only the original carries forward your continuous consciousness. The other started it’s existence a moment ago, but has the memories of a past it never lived.

  39. Philosofrenzyon 23 Apr 2013 at 8:25 pm

    I find it weird people don’t “get” the continuity problem. I always explain it like this:

    What if things happened in another order? What if the guy appeared on the transporter pad, THEN you ‘de-materialized’ on the planet. Few people would say that they still have no problem with it. Yet exactly the same thing is happening: the computer is scanning your body, de-materializing you atom by atom, and making an exact replica elsewhere. The order in which this is achieved (well, with the exception of scanning having to happen first) is irrelevant: the same thing is taking place. High-speed cloning, and murder. :)

  40. Philosofrenzyon 23 Apr 2013 at 8:26 pm

    Damn it, Steve.

  41. SimonWon 23 Apr 2013 at 9:04 pm

    I’m thinking any technology that sophisticated could rearrange you in the process.

    By which I mean you have some terrible terminal disease (rogue nanobot infection in the blood stream), we can easily transport you and leave the nanobots behind, you have 3 minutes to decide before the nanobot infection irreparably damages you.

    Still don’t fancy it Steve? You’ll come out with your body mostly like it was before, but obviously we’ll remove any obvious defects and cancers, correct the length of your telomeres, remove clearly spurious DNA which slows your repair mechanisms down, removal viral left overs from your cells, and any rogue auto-antibodies. Instead of dying you’ll feel better than you did on your 21st birthday and omitting accidents easily live another 100 years without the common problems of aging. We can of course repeat this process in 60 years time.

    Of course in this case maybe we can replicate you without dismantling you, and the new you can stand hopelessly by watching the old you be painfully consumed from the inside by nanobots which were suppose to be making protein snacks in the industrial food production plant out of waste protein. Your choice, it won’t hurt….

  42. Nitpickingon 23 Apr 2013 at 9:13 pm

    Steve,

    So continuity is your definition of “staying alive” and it has to be continuity as perceived by someone outside your head?

    Since we’re making up technology: I use my time machine to transport you five minutes into the future. There is a discontinuity there–you didn’t exist at all for five minutes. Are you dead? Why not?

    Would you consider a time machine an execution chamber in the same way you do a transporter?

    Now consider that you will in fact travel five minutes into the future. It will just take five minutes. Are you dead? What’s the difference?

    Continuing … time seems to be quantized. There are (imperceptible) gaps in your existence. Is nanosecond-ago Steve dead? Why not?

    There is not a single atom in your body (OK, there are very few) that were part of infant-Steve. Why do you have continuity with him? Is he dead now?

    You seem to be privileging Steve’s-perception-worldline-as-modified-by-physical-appearance over other possibilities for no reason except personal preference.

  43. The A-Unicorniston 23 Apr 2013 at 10:50 pm

    Michio Kaku addressed this question a while back, and concluded that it would actually be you:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcivmBojzVk

  44. The A-Unicorniston 23 Apr 2013 at 11:00 pm

    Argh, sorry… wrong video. I can’t find the one I was looking for, but it’s a Big Think video. He explains that it would still be you, because the quantum information is preserved.

  45. jasonnybergon 23 Apr 2013 at 11:04 pm

    Steve, Re:

    “Now I point a gun at you and say that I need to vaporize you. Do you mind? If so, why?”

    and

    ‘What if I say, “Now, I have to vaporize one of you.” Do you care which one? How is this any different than being vaporized as part of the scanning process?’

    Do I mind? What’s the difference? Easy!

    “Choice.”

    In your “scary, threatening” scenarios, you’re scanning, duplicating, shooting, destroying, etc. “me” _without asking nicely or explaining how “I’ll” benefit._

    Try flipping things around a bit: I point a gun at you, and say that you need to teleport, or I’ll shoot…

    Furthermore: Re:

    “Only the original carries forward your continuous consciousness. The other started it’s existence a moment ago, but has the memories of a past it never lived.”

    Try telling that to the copy! Its memories are just as vivid, by definition, as the original’s. The copy has the same scars, wears the same glasses, and is in every respect indistinguishable from the original. It’s impossible to anyone _else_ to see any difference in appearance or behavior. The copy actually changed less during it’s journey than the original would have by simply walking across the room…

    Other than location, what _exactly_ is the difference between the copy and the original? (Answer: By definition, _nothing._)

    More thought experiments:

    Are memories formed while in “The Matrix” (or while daydreaming for that matter) so different than those gained by _actually_ taking a walk in the forest?

    Is it still “me” in The Matrix?

    If I (at your request) freeze you, perfectly, and then perfectly thaw and wake you up in 20 years, is it still “you?” Certainly, there’s been a “discontinuity” in your physical and mental processes relative to everyone else…

    If you were to suffer a debilitating stroke tomorrow, would today-you be the same “you” as tomorrow-you?

    IMHO, “You” are your wiring. Not the wires themselves (wires are just wires), but how the wires are arranged.

    SimonW., Re: “healing transporters…” See Larry Niven’s “A World Out Of Time”. Definitely one of the “benefits” I was alluding to earlier. I.e. “Teleport everything but the cancer, please…”

    Jason

  46. Davdoodleson 23 Apr 2013 at 11:14 pm

    I tend to go wiht Nitpicking (above) here. surely, we are all “George Washingtons Axe” many times over.

    No cells, and very few molecules in my body were there even a few years ago, let alone from the moment I was born (or even from the moment of conception, at the risk of arousing quaint religious notions around self and personhood and life and whatnot).

    Why, then,am I still “me”, if an exact albiet artificial copy of me would not be as entitled as I am to call itself “me”?

    Does the fact that the change occurs subtly, rather than in a big electronic clunk make a difference?

    What if I was “transported” to my precise current location? “Copy” particles replacing, seemlessly, each and every “original” particle? Over weeks and months this occurs naturally, and I remain “me”. Does the fact that it might one day be achieved via some technology change things?
    .

  47. Steven Novellaon 24 Apr 2013 at 7:17 am

    All the responses to my latest comment were non sequiturs.

    Time travel or freezing – this is confusing functional continuity with physical continuity, a point I have already addressed.

    “Choice” – irrelevant. What if I ask you nicely which one (the original or the copy) I should vaporize, and explain nicely that really there can be only one. Do you care? (that was my question).

    There was a sci fi short in which aliens transported humans to their utopian planet. However, what was really happening is that the original was being destroyed on earth and a copy made on the alien planet. Occasionally the destruction part did not work, and then the rogue original humans had to be hunted down and vaporized.

    Bottom line – if at any time in the process you are vaporized, then you are dead. It doesn’t matter if there is a copy, if the copy thinks it’s me, if the world thinks the copy is me. I’m dead.

    George Washington’s axe is not a good analogy – it is defined entirely by the physical substance, whereas our brains are functional entities where the wiring matters, not just what they are made of.

    I already acknowledged that the physical substance of our brains slowly changes over time, but this does not cause physical discontinuity.

    And, for the record, you do not turn over all your brain cells in three years. In fact you have many of the same neurons you did as an infant. Hippocampal cells do turn over, and there is some stem-cell plasticity, but largely your neurons do not turn over. The brain is a stable organ.

    To answer the question about the stroke, if you have a massive stroke that damages a large part of your brain, than you have changed. You have been damaged. Sometimes this can result in profound personality changes. You are your brain.

  48. BillyJoe7on 24 Apr 2013 at 7:27 am

    Steven Novella,

    “Let’s say I can make a perfect scan of your body without causing any damage. Then I use that information to make a perfect copy of you. The copy experiences being scanned and then appearing in the replication booth. You experience being scanned and then a copy of you appearing in the replication booth.”

    First of all, in this scenario, the original and the copy are not identical. Their experiences of the scanning and copying procedures are different for the two of them. Therefore the original knows that he is the original, and the copy knows he is the copy.

    “Now I point a gun at you and say that I need to vaporize you. Do you mind? If so, why?”

    Of course the original cares if he is vapourised. He wants to keep on living.
    So would the copy care if he is vapourised. He also wants to keep on living.

    “What if I say, “Now, I have to vaporize one of you.” Do you care which one?”

    Of course. If one of them has to be vapourised, the original would want it to be the copy, and the copy would want it to be the original. Because both want to keep on living

    “How is this any different than being vaporized as part of the scanning process?

    There is a difference. The original has agreed to be killed. Moreover, the original has agreed to be killed provided a copy is created to instantiate the brain state of the original and carry it forward.

    “Only the original carries forward your continuous consciousness. The other started it’s existence a moment ago, but has the memories of a past it never lived”

    The original carries forward the brain state of the original, but the copy also carries forward the brain the brain state of the original. That is all that matters. Certainly a continuous consciousness can’t be an important factor because, as has already been pointed out, consciousness is not continuous in any case.

  49. starikon 24 Apr 2013 at 7:47 am

    “# Steven Novellaon 23 Apr 2013 at 8:23 pm
    Let’s say I can make a perfect scan of your body without causing any damage. Then I use that information to make a perfect copy of you. The copy experiences being scanned and then appearing in the replication booth. You experience being scanned and then a copy of you appearing in the replication booth.
    Now I point a gun at you and say that I need to vaporize you. Do you mind? If so, why?
    What if I say, “Now, I have to vaporize one of you.” Do you care which one? How is this any different than being vaporized as part of the scanning process?
    Only the original carries forward your continuous consciousness. The other started it’s existence a moment ago, but has the memories of a past it never lived.”

    You’re still taking it as a given that the original copy is the “real” you. The are both you now. The copy does have continuity with your past, just as much as the original. As far as you can say the original has been alive for X years, the copy has too. It’s the consciousness (pattern/software) that is X years old, not the physical body. Both bodies are 13.8 billion years old.

  50. Steven Novellaon 24 Apr 2013 at 8:23 am

    BillyJoe – knowledge of being the original or copy is irrelevant. As you point out – both want to live. Why?

    Choice is also irrelevant to my point – the point is, in the example I give it is obvious that the other person living is small compensation for you being vaporized. This is the identical situation to being transported in that – you are still vaporized. The other details are all irrelevant – the order in which things occur, choice, perspective, etc. None of these things change the fact that you are vaporized, i.e. dead.

    starik – If the copy was just made it has absolutely not been alive for X years, only since the moment it was created. It’s memory and perception are an illusion. Granted, it is an illusion in the same way our consciousness is an illusion. Once created, it has its own existence and probably wants to live. No matter how many copies exist, each copy wants itself to live – meaning its physical continuity to continue.

    The pattern determines the personality, memories, cognitive function, etc. Yes. but not the individual. We are not just patterns, we are patterns in a physical substrate that has function, and part of that function is consciousness. If you copied the pattern onto a substrate that was not capable of being conscious, the pattern itself would not be conscious.

    This is the hard vs soft AI problem. I am definitely on the soft AI side – you need pattern and substrate, not just pattern.

  51. Murmuron 24 Apr 2013 at 8:30 am

    It seems the root of all the arguments above are based in what people believe to be their consciousness. I am in the Steve camp here, I would not let someone copy me and let me be destroyed. We know way too little about what makes us conscious for me to gamble destroying the one that is in my current head.

    Some people are also still missing the point about the difference to you and to the you that the other world sees. If you are vaporised, the conscious you goes away (Science has yet to find any evidence of any kind of lingering consciousness or “life” after death), and if another is created at any time then that is something completely separate no matter how identical it is to the original (Heisenberg principle compensated for or not) or where it is located (even if it is right on top of the original). We don’t even know if that new you would have a consciousness at all (though it is most likely they will).

    To me this is fascinating, it excites me and chills me to the bone at the same time and links in to the whole Tipping Point for computer consciousness and even if animals have any meaningful consciousness.

    As for all the Star Trek comments: It is my understanding that the transporter does not create a copy, but rather transports the molecules using some kind of techno babble phlebotium. Aside from all of that, I think the clue is actually in the name, it is a Transporter, and not a Copy-at-a-Distance machine. I am not a Trekkie though, so I might get shot down for that.

    Anyway, love the article.

  52. jasonnybergon 24 Apr 2013 at 9:25 am

    ‘“Choice” – irrelevant. What if I ask you nicely which one (the original or the copy) I should vaporize, and explain nicely that really there can be only one. Do you care? (that was my question).’

    That’s a little goalpost-moving… Your scenario, as written, involved duress.

    Anyways, choice is the _root_ of your issue, and the choice you make will stem from your subjective view of it… If I’ve “chosen” to experience whatever scenario you come up with, then _by definition_ I’ve consented, i.e. pre-declared my acceptance of the process and its outcome.

    Regardless: This exercise (“would I or wouldn’t I?”) is nothing but a means to extract a _subjective_ opinion about whether a duplicate “me” is “me”.

    OBJECTIVELY, an identical copy of “me” both is and is not “me”: It is an “other/alternate me,” which is by definition identical except for location and post-duplication experience.

    If one of “us” has to then be vaporized, there is still a version of “me” left. Of course, something is lost in that case; Some redundancy, some post-duplication experience, and all of vaporized “me’s” future potential.

    In the original teleportation scenario where I destroy one copy to make an _identical_ one, the “alternate me” hazards are avoided and the only visible effect is simply a space/time discontinuity, which objectively is unimportant WRT _identity_, no matter how large or small it is.

    Jason

  53. Steven Novellaon 24 Apr 2013 at 9:41 am

    Jason – I have not moved any goalposts. You have simply missed the context of my point.

    I am addressing one question – after any uploading, teleportation, cloning, or whatever process that results in the destruction of the original you and the creation of an exact duplicate you, are you alive or dead? That is the question I am addressing. I have argued, persuasively, I think, that you are dead, and the existence of duplicates (no matter how exact or convinced that they are you) is irrelevant.

    To that question, choice is irrelevant. I am not discussing the morality of teleportation here.

    The point of my analogy is that is makes it obvious that you are being destroyed. The introduction of “choice” as a variable is a non-sequitur.

  54. 1RickDon 24 Apr 2013 at 9:55 am

    I’ll play, going for the overly simplistic.

    If the ‘teleportation’ is a destruction/rebuild from new matter, then you’re screwed. No such thing as an exact copy. Similar but not same.

    If the being that created the memories ceases to exist, the new being is simply starting from that reference point – it cannot process the next observation the same way the original would have.

    I don’t see how it’s is different than any other asexual reproduction.

    The process would have to be more of a spacetime bending or phasing to be legit.

  55. etatroon 24 Apr 2013 at 10:15 am

    I’ve often thought about Davdoodle’s premise. We know that much of our body is replaced by new cells constantly; the skin and the intestinal epithelium are the examples with the highest turnover. But other cells, like fully differentiated neurons, do not. They don’t divide or replace their nuclei. Caveat: I think I have seen several electron microscopy neuropath papers that showed via serial sectioning large pyramidal neurons in (I think) the cerebellum with two nuclei, implying that a cell may have fused with it. (the cerebellum has an easy and predictable architecture to do this sort of experiment.) I haven’t read of this process observed, though. But if we assume that many neurons, once they are fully developed, do not divide and die, only replace their proteins and lipids and such slowly over time, then their DNA (and possibly their mitochondrial DNA and possibly nuclear histones, but not necessarily) would have to be the same as from its last mitotic division. Which very well could have been close to the time of birth.

    We have 46 individual chromosomes. The first cell with a full complement that is “you,” made copies of those chromosomes and split them between two daughter cells. One could have gotten all original 46 and the other all new 46 (unlikely); or any combination of new+old. This happened many times over, but the original 46 should persist, probably dispersed throughout 46 different cells somewhere on the blastocyst. If one of them happened to be a cell in the neural crest whose progenitors went on to be a long-lived neuron— are the atoms the DNA of the nuclei of neurons the same atoms that were there at the time of your conception and/or birth? Is this possible? Can we calculate the probability assuming random assortment at mitosis? Could we do this experiment? Surely we could simulate it. Does it matter or solve any problems? No, but it’s something I’ve thought about.

    (I know my post is not related to the original topic. FTR, I agree with Steve, the problem of brain continuity makes teleportation problematic. You’re destroying a separate, sentient, individual living being with consciousness whom you presumably had a relationship with)

  56. jasonnybergon 24 Apr 2013 at 11:23 am

    Steve, re: “Jason – I have not moved any goalposts. You have simply missed the context of my point.”

    I only introduced “choice” in response to your introduction of duress. If duress is excluded, then I agree: The issue of “choice” becomes irrelevant.

    Re: “I have argued, persuasively, I think, that you are dead, and the existence of duplicates (no matter how exact or convinced that they are you) is irrelevant.”

    I think we’re using “death” differently. Normal, intuitive understanding of “death” implies a termination of continuity… However, in this exercise, by definition, we’re positing an UNintuitive mode where there’s a DIScontinuity (but not a TERMINATION of continuity) in mental state.

    I guess that I’m arguing a larger point… If a person walks into a black box, and 10 seconds later something identical walks back out of the black box, I, personally, don’t think it really matters what happened inside the black box. The impact on the rest of the universe is nil.

    I.e. How many of my original molecules need to dance on the head of a pin for them to be “me?”

    I don’t care. For all I know, every infinitesimal movement of every particle in the universe occurs via the destruction/replication of the particle in a new location at the Plank scale. Who am I to judge?

    It’s no different than Searle’s Chinese Room; If the actions of the room/reproduction are of sufficient fidelity, is it intelligent?/”me”?

    1RickD, Re: “If the being that created the memories ceases to exist, the new being is simply starting from that reference point – it cannot process the next observation the same way the original would have.”

    If I tap you on the shoulder, can you process the next observation the same way you would have if I had not tapped you on the shoulder?

    My answer: Who cares? The vast majority of events that our minds sense/process come from external sources that are outside of our control. What’s one more?

    Obligatory Non-sequitur: “I woke up this morning and discovered that everything in my apartment had been stolen and replaced with an exact replica. I told my roommate, “Isn’t this amazing? Everything in the apartment has been stolen and replaced with an exact replica.” He said, “Do I know you?”" — Steven Wright

    Jason

  57. the absent-mindedon 24 Apr 2013 at 11:23 am

    Why hasn’t anyone answered Steven’s simple question?

    “# Steven Novella on 23 Apr 2013 at 8:23 pm

    Let’s say I can make a perfect scan of your body without causing any damage. Then I use that information to make a perfect copy of you. The copy experiences being scanned and then appearing in the replication booth. You experience being scanned and then a copy of you appearing in the replication booth.

    Now I point a gun at you and say that I need to vaporize you. Do you mind? If so, why?”

    What if an exact copy of you is made, and because of the intricate copying process it appears in the next room or in Australia. At the moment the copy is created do you feel different, do you see, hear, feel like you’re in the other room or Australia. My guess is you don’t. So why would it matter to me that a copy (or dozen copies) of me exist. If my body/consciousness here is vaporized that’s the end for me. I don’t keep on living through the other copies in the next room/Australia. Only a non-materialistic, dualistic worldview would allow me to believe such a thing and I don’t think anyone here is arguing for that.

    I actually registered so I could post a link to John Weldon’s “To Be”, a short animated movie “offering a lighthearted overview of a central problem of ontology: the continuity of existence.”

    John Weldon’s “To Be”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdxucpPq6Lc

    P.S. And to answer Steven’s simple question: Yes I do mind! Shoot the other guy!

  58. Steven Novellaon 24 Apr 2013 at 11:47 am

    Jason – duress is not a necessary part of my example. I simply asked – do you care which one gets vaporized, you or the copy. Have you answered that question, BTW?

    But let’s say we alter the example as follows. You step into a booth. The booth will scan you and create an exact duplicate which will appear in another booth. The booths are arranged so that you are not aware if you are the original or the copy. You and the copy step out of the booth where one of you will get vaporized and the other is free to leave. Again – do you care which one gets vaporized?

    This room with the booths can be your black box. Do you really not care if you or the other identical version of you are vaporized?

    Also – whether or not it makes any difference to the rest of the universe is a non-sequitur. That’s not the question. The question is – does it matter to you. Is your existence continuing to your subjective experience if an exact copy of you exists but you are destroyed?

    The point of this exercise addresses my formulation of the continuity problem at the beginning of the post. Scanning, vaporizing, and then copying someone at another location effectively creates the illusion that the person was “transported” from A to B when in reality the person was destroyed and a copy was made at location B. The person is dead. My example just breaks the illusion by changing the order of events.

  59. starikon 24 Apr 2013 at 11:50 am

    What if we picked one of your brain cells and teleported it out of existence, simultaneously replacing it with an exact copy? Are you still alive? What if we replaced 5% of your brain this way, or the whole thing?

  60. jasonnybergon 24 Apr 2013 at 11:52 am

    One more point: In the thousands and thousands of portrayals of instant transportation (be it technical or magical), how many times have you ever once _intuitively_ thought to yourself, “They KILLED him/her, and _that’s_ just a COPY!”?

    Unless the issue is _directly addressed_ in the story’s narrative, probably not very often. It takes a somewhat extraordinary train of thought just to get there. Not that intuition trumps all, but the intuitive response is to accept the “copy” as if it were the original… Perhaps this is somewhat due to a natural acceptance of the narrative of the story, i.e. suspension of disbelief.

    Jason

  61. jasonnybergon 24 Apr 2013 at 12:13 pm

    Steven: Re: “This room with the booths can be your black box. Do you really not care if you or the other identical version of you are vaporized?

    Also – whether or not it makes any difference to the rest of the universe is a non-sequitur. That’s not the question. The question is – does it matter to you. Is your existence continuing to your subjective experience if an exact copy of you exists but you are destroyed?”

    Short answer: If one HAD to be destroyed, as per your scenario, I don’t care which copy makes it through if the copies were indeed “identical.”

    Longer answer: I do have a greater repulsion to your “reordered” scenario, in which you posit the technical capability to make an identical copy of someone and then state, for the sake of your exercise, that one MUST now be destroyed. I certainly would feel sad that a supposedly viable, intelligent being would need to be destroyed arbitrarily, and knowing this might repulse me enough to treat such a technology differently than the “usual” teleportation scenario.

    In the “black box” version, as an outside observer, as long as the output person avoided experiencing whatever possible mental or physical trauma you conceive of inside the box, I don’t care which copy comes out, because they’re by definition identical.

    Jason

  62. jasonnybergon 24 Apr 2013 at 12:38 pm

    PS: If it isn’t already obvious, I’d have an issue with actually going into the “copy then destroy 1″ box. It would be traumatic for both “myself” and “my other self” to have to either be vaporized, or watch the other be vaporized.

    If both inside observers and outside observers are unaware of the activities inside the box, i.e. no-one is ever the wiser, then I don’t see any moral or ethical problem for the teleportee… For all I know, aliens are constantly stopping time, hamburgering me, restoring me, and restarting time again… The moral/ethical faults lie with the aliens, not me.

    Jason

  63. JJ Borgmanon 24 Apr 2013 at 3:41 pm

    My thought on all this,

    What a wonderful way to end life with dignity! Vaporization! I think it might be a popular option when confronted with what some of us have no issue with…mortality. We just prefer not to endure the suffering requisite to many of the ways that end us.

  64. Marshallon 24 Apr 2013 at 4:32 pm

    Hi Steve,

    I know this is a lively debate. I have a big issue with your “gun vaporization choice” scenario, and that is that you’re assuming that “I” am the un-copied version, which is begging the question. The entire point of the scenario is–is your copy any less you than the original you is?

    If you want to be fair in your scenario, play the scenario twice. First have the person point the gun at you and ask if you’d rather have the other be vaporized (you’d of course say yes). Then replay the scenario, and have the person point the gun at the copy and ask HIM if he’d want the other to be vaporized (he would say yes).

    We’re back to square one. We still haven’t determined which one is “really” you (if that is even a valid question)–all we’ve determined is that we have a sense of self-preservation.

  65. Steven Novellaon 24 Apr 2013 at 4:52 pm

    Marshall – I believe we already addressed this. Even if no one can’t tell the difference between the original and the copy, including the two people, there still is an original and a copy. The question is not – can you tell them apart. The question is – would you enter a process knowing that it involved destroying you and creating a perfect copy? Will you experience the copy’s existence in the same way that you are currently experiencing your own existence?

    The answer is obviously no, and no one has actually addressed that point here. Most responses so far amount to answering the wrong question, addressing irrelevant points, or saying that it doesn’t matter.

    The only point that comes close, in my opinion, is the question of gradually replacing the brain with an artificial substrate. What if artificial neurons replaced your biological neurons one-by-one, but exactly duplicated their function the entire way. Would that preserve continuity? Or would that just be a slow and imperceptible death? That is a tough one. I certainly would consider doing something like that at the end of my natural life, but I would see getting vaporized as death, no matter what else happened.

  66. Marshallon 24 Apr 2013 at 5:16 pm

    Steve, I still disagree with your argument, because I think the question you’re asking is irrelevant.

    I don’t know if I would experience the copy’s existence in the same way, and I don’t think anybody can honestly answer that question. We all say “no” because we all have our entire lives of experience knowing that “destroying you” means death to your consciousness, and we cannot overcome our aversion.

    I don’t think “would you enter the process?” is a valid question. This is like asking someone going for homeopathic treatment and who hates SBM, “Would you enter a hospital, or take this homeopathic medicine?” It doesn’t matter what the subject thinks, because what they believe is not the truth. The same is here–we all *think* that we won’t continue existing, but we don’t really know that. Your choice that you would not want to enter the process is based on your assumption that your consciousness will cease. That you wouldn’t enter a process because you think it would destroy your consciousness is not a valid argument that your consciousness would be destroyed!

    This is why I think the question doesn’t matter, and the situation is rigged for your side of the argument. I like to view the question put another way: let’s say you looked over and saw a copy of yourself on the other side of the room, and someone walked in and said, “we made a copy of you, but you don’t know which one is you. Should we destroy the other version of you, or should we destroy you?” You’ll choose the other version. but what if afterwards they said “Hahaha! You were the copy!, the original you just got destroyed!” The whole issue of continuity here is moot; you were discontinuous, and the other you was probably appalled and was destroyed. But–you still had the same continuity the other you did as well. It’s weird and I still can’t really wrap my head around it.

  67. jasonnybergon 24 Apr 2013 at 5:44 pm

    Steve, re: “Will you experience the copy’s existence in the same way that you are currently experiencing your own existence?
    The answer is obviously no, and no one has actually addressed that point here.”

    “Obviously?” I don’t think you’ve established that point _at all._

    What exactly is the difference in the way the original experiences its existence, vs. an identical copy? From the copy’s perspective, it walked out of the same booth it walked into…

    Surely their experiences will begin to diverge due to leading different lives from the instant the copy was made, but the random chaos of reality jostles the path we take through life all the time. That doesn’t mean one instance’s experiences are any “better” than the other’s.

    As I said earlier, once you revert to the “traditional” teleportation scenario, you eliminate, quite literally, the entire dilemma: So…

    Re: “I certainly would consider doing something like that at the end of my natural life, but I would see getting vaporized as death, no matter what else happened.”

    Why? Why not consider it to be merely a very serious injury, from which you can perfectly recover given sufficient technology?

    Re: “gradually replacing the brain with an artificial substrate.”

    I had actually written half a post positing this very question, as it forces you to make a subjective decision as to how to define “you” vs. “not you anymore.” Assuming the artificial neurons are functionally identical to the “real thing:”

    Is a totally converted brain still “you”?
    If not, was there a specific moment you ceased being “you?” Or did your “youness” merely depreciate gradually during the process… etc. etc. etc.

    I say as long as there are no serious discontinuities in your behavior, it’s always “you.”

    Jason

  68. BillyJoe7on 24 Apr 2013 at 6:47 pm

    Steven,

    You step into a booth. The booth will scan you and create an exact duplicate which will appear in another booth. The booths are arranged so that you are not aware if you are the original or the copy. You and the copy step out of the booth where one of you will get vaporized and the other is free to leave. Again – do you care which one gets vaporized?

    You are begging the question here.
    The fourth sentence should read:
    The original and the copy step out of the booth where one of you [the original or the copy] will get vaporized and the other is free to leave.
    So now the answer to your question….
    “Do you [the original or the copy] care which one gets vaporized?”
    The answer is that both the original and the copy care which one gets vapourised

    The question is – would you enter a process knowing that it involved destroying you and creating a perfect copy?

    In my opinion, only a dualist would answer “no”. This is why. What is essentially being copied is a brain state. After the duplication, there is the original brain state and the copy brain state, and we have agreed that they are identical. In other words, original brain state = copy brain state. So where do “you” come in. You are this brain state. In other words, you are the original brain state and you are the copy brain state. You = original brain state = copy brain state = you. If you think that you have ownership of only the original brain state and some other entity has ownership of the copy brain state, then you are speaking as a dualist. In fact the word “you” is superfluous here. There is just the original brain state and the copy brain state.

    Will you experience the copy’s existence in the same way that you are currently experiencing your own existence?

    Can you see the dualist language?
    At the point of duplication, your experience = the original’s experience = the copy’s experience.
    “You” don’t have ownership of either. There is just the original’s experience and the copy’s experience and they are identical at the point of duplication.
    …unless you believe in the ghost in the machine?

  69. daedalus2uon 24 Apr 2013 at 6:48 pm

    The idea of the continuity of consciousness is an illusion due to human hyperactive agency detection. You won’t have the resolution to notice differences in self-identity due to brain replication.

    The “problem” is not one of continuity, the “problem” is one of recognition of self-agency. In other words, how is it that you recognize yourself as “you”, and would that change with brain replication?

    The way we recognize self-agency is with our agency pattern recognition directed on ourselves. This presents a problem because humans have hyperactive agency detection. To recognize agency, humans compare the entity under test with a “control” entity that is known to have agency. My hypothesis is that people use themselves as the “agent pattern” for doing pattern recognition with to determine if another organism has “agency”. But when any pattern is compared against itself there is always 100.00000000% correspondence, no matter the fidelity of the comparison. I think this is why people virtually always perceive themselves to be self-identical with their selves of yesterday.

    Even when people experience brain altering events, brain damage for example, they still feel like themselves. Is Gabby Giffords still alive? Is the Gabby Giffords who lost a large chunk of her brain still “the same” entity? Legally the answer is yes, cognitively the answer is no. But at a fine enough resolution there are changes minute to minute that make the “you” of now different than the “you” of 10 minutes ago. Your own internal self-agency-matching pattern recognition can’t recognize the difference as being sufficient to constitute a “new you”. Very likely Gabby Giffords doesn’t feel that she is a different person either.

    You are not the same entity you were 10 minutes ago. Why do you accept the changes that occur with aging? Because it beats the alternative.

  70. tmac57on 24 Apr 2013 at 6:57 pm

    I would like to introduce a new element here,just for fun:

    Suppose that a new exact copy of you is created at age 25,and then put in a suspended animation state for the next 35 years. Now the copy is awakened, and you are faced with the following choice,as the original:

    (1)You get continue to live out your expected life expectancy (say it is still only about 15 years at best for this example only) and the copy must be destroyed.*

    (2) The copy of you is allowed to start life anew at age 25,but you must be destroyed (along with the 35 years of your past life that the copy will never have knowledge of).

    A pragmatic,academic answer might be to go for the obvious choice of getting to be resurrected as a 25 year old,but try to really immerse yourself in the implications of what it would feel like to be confronted with this as a real life scenario.

    * No fair inventing new variables,such as “If we could duplicate people,and use suspended animation,then we must be able to live beyond 85 years.” :)

  71. starikon 24 Apr 2013 at 7:04 pm

    Steve, if you were teleported to another location by disassembling your atoms and putting them back together at the destination, did the real “you” die?

  72. BillyJoe7on 24 Apr 2013 at 7:05 pm

    The following scenario makes the answer to this question very clear:

    You went to sleep last night and you woke up this morning.

    But last night a vapouriser/duplicator vapourised you and then duplicated you where you lay. Or not. Or maybe there was a vapouriser/duplicator but it malfunctioned and nothing happened. Or maybe it randomly did or didn’t vapourise and duplicate you. Or maybe it vapourised you, saved all your atoms and used them to duplicate you. Or maybe is used different atoms.
    Does it make any difference? Because, from your point of view….

    You went to sleep last night and you woke up this morning.

  73. pumberkinon 24 Apr 2013 at 7:11 pm

    Throughout all this I still don’t think Steve has given an adequate argument as to why physical continuity is important. Again, as many commenters have pointed out, we accept that the original you does die after stepping through the teleporter. What we need is an explanation as to why we should care about this fact other than just stating by fiat that physical continuity is essential.

    Why does it matter if the original you dies or not? The way everybody experiences life is only ever in the present. As soon as this present becomes the past, we no longer experience it. We only have the memories of the past. So what is really the difference between the original you experiencing the new presents and a new you experiencing the new presents? Yes, the original you happened to be the one who experienced all the presents up until the teleportation, but again this begs the question: why is that important? We never actually experience this physical continuity, so it doesn’t hurt us when it is interrupted.

    It’s like death – it doesn’t harm the dead person because s/he doesn’t feel it. I would feel perfectly ok for someone to kill me and replicate me with 100% fidelity down to the atom. For all intents and purposes the important parts of me lives on.

  74. Nitpickingon 24 Apr 2013 at 8:36 pm

    . Even if no one can’t tell the difference between the original and the copy, including the two people, there still is an original and a copy.

    Physics would disagree with you, or at least physicists would. In physics, if no difference can be defined between two situations or objects, they are the same, period.

    I still want to know why you are privileging your own, very idiosyncratic definition of continuity (which is somehow not continuity of physical stuff nor continuity of function nor continuity of experience, but something else which has aspects of all three).

    To answer your question above: if I was sure the duplication process really made identical copies I’d have no problem being recorded, then being shot dead, if I was reasonably confident a copy would be run off afterward. Why would I? Nothing except a short bit of experience would be lost, and I forget more than that every day.

  75. ccbowerson 24 Apr 2013 at 9:11 pm

    “Does it make any difference? Because, from your point of view….
    You went to sleep last night and you woke up this morning.”

    BJ7- Well it wouldn’t matter to the “morning you,” but explain that senario in advance to the sleepy “last night you.” I don’t think ” last night you” will sleep at all.

    This is precisely the point- From each individual’s perspective there is a difference between themselves and the other “copy,” but for some reason many commenters want to dismiss this as irrelevent.

  76. ccbowerson 24 Apr 2013 at 9:15 pm

    Many of the people who feel like they have a disagreement with Steve simply don’t understand the point he is making, or they are addressing a different question altogether. I think Philosofrenzy’s example is a good one, and is effectively the same as one of Steve’s senarios.

    D2U makes a good point or two, and touches on the problem I have had with how the continuity problem is sometimes described… I don’t think the word continuity describes the issue exactly or fully. The perception of self is tangled up in these senarios, and that is why so many people have trouble wrapping their minds around the issue. References to physics and other sciences misses much of the point. This is not simply a scientific question.

  77. Nitpickingon 24 Apr 2013 at 9:43 pm

    I (think that I) understand Steve perfectly well. I just disagree.

    Steve, you’re a confessed SF fan. (For that matter, I’ve invited you to speak at two science fiction conventions, and I don’t even work for Dragoncon.)

    Have you read the fiction of, say, John Varley? Wil McCarthy? Charlie Stross?

  78. ccbowerson 24 Apr 2013 at 9:52 pm

    Nitpicking –

    If you understand Steve, then you should understand that your recent reference to physics is not relevant to the issue.

  79. Ditheiton 24 Apr 2013 at 9:53 pm

    To answer your question above: if I was sure the duplication process really made identical copies I’d have no problem being recorded, then being shot dead, if I was reasonably confident a copy would be run off afterward. Why would I? Nothing except a short bit of experience would be lost, and I forget more than that every day.

    You should care because you would be dead. What makes you think you would experience what your copy is experiencing after you die?

  80. ccbowerson 24 Apr 2013 at 9:56 pm

    “Again, as many commenters have pointed out, we accept that the original you does die after stepping through the teleporter. What we need is an explanation as to why we should care about this fact other than just stating by fiat that physical continuity is essential.”

    You should only care about it to the extant that we don’t want to die. If you don’t care about being dead, then you shouldn’t care. The copy of you will live on just fine without you.

  81. Nitpickingon 24 Apr 2013 at 10:17 pm

    @ccbowers–because I disagree with him (and apparently you) about its relevancy.

  82. ccbowerson 24 Apr 2013 at 10:35 pm

    “@ccbowers–because I disagree with him (and apparently you) about its relevancy.”

    I think that means that you don’t understand what he is talking about then, because it is not a question of physics… at all. More charitably put, you are talking about something else entirely, as valid as that may be. I think this is a key point that Steve said:

    “The question is not – can you tell them apart….
    Will you experience the copy’s existence in the same way that you are currently experiencing your own existence? The answer is obviously no, and no one has actually addressed that point here.”

    You seem to be referring to the first question he is (not) asking, or a variation of that. The answer to latter question is no, you will not experience your copy’s existence, but your copy will experience the remainder of their existence and you will be dead. To the rest of the universe they won’t know the diffence, but that is not the issue being discussed in this post, this is a question from the perspective of you.

    If you are not attached to your own existence and experiences in any way, then you have an objection to what Steve is saying, but I don’t think that is the argument being made

  83. BillyJoe7on 25 Apr 2013 at 12:03 am

    ccbowers,

    “BJ7- Well it wouldn’t matter to the “morning you,” but explain that senario in advance to the sleepy “last night you.” I don’t think ” last night you” will sleep at all.”

    You completely missed the point of my scenario.
    Sure, if you knew this might happen, psychologically it might play with your mind and you might not sleep at all. But that was not my scenario and you have avoiding addressing it by changing it.
    My scenario could have happened to you last night and there’s no explaining away the fact that it doesn’t matter it it did or it didn’t. Nothing will have changed for you either way.

    “This is precisely the point- From each individual’s perspective there is a difference between themselves and the other “copy,” but for some reason many commenters want to dismiss this as irrelevent”

    Again, you have completely miss the point.
    It is not “you” and “the copy”, it is “the original brain state” and “the copy brain state”
    If you want to claim ownership of “the original brain state”, you are making a dualist argument.
    And I don’t think you are a dualist.
    If you want to use “you” as a label, then it applies equally to “the original brain state” and “the copy brain state” and there is no difference between the two.

    “Many of the people who feel like they have a disagreement with Steve simply don’t understand the point he is making”

    Or, perhaps, you and Steve, don’t understand the point some of us are making.
    (In fact, I used to think Steve’s view must be correct. At the same time, it seemed to me to be incorrect from the point of materialism. It took me a long time to understand the error I was making and that you and Steve are still making – unless you are happy being dualists ): )

  84. evhantheinfidelon 25 Apr 2013 at 2:10 am

    Steven

    With the scanner and then copy, you’re cheating. The copy would be the same version of “you” only for the exact instant that it was created. After that, and especially with the dilemma you presented, the individual would cease to be, as, by necessity, the copies would be viewing things from different perspectives. I think that the problem is more of when the continuity ends. If one’s consciousness continues for longer than when the information was gathered to make the copy, then of course the copy wouldn’t be the “you” that’s sitting there. If I upload a document on my computer to the internet and then change the local one without changing the uploaded one, they become different versions. So, in conclusion, if two copies of a person were made that progressed in exactly the same way, they would be one and the same. That, however, is impossible, and so a non-problem.

  85. evhantheinfidelon 25 Apr 2013 at 2:35 am

    Invite me on your show, or I’ll make a press release about how you admitted that I’m right!

  86. evhantheinfidelon 25 Apr 2013 at 2:36 am

    Hey, MISTER <–hahaha! Novella, can I comment enough to bring the number of comments up to 100?

  87. Vanillaon 25 Apr 2013 at 5:41 am

    I agree that if an internally identical copy of myself is produced, and then I’m destroyed, that I will cease to be. However, I also think that one second from now I will have ceased to be, in the strictest sense, since it will no longer be the same object. Whoever is there then will feel like they are something that spans many time intervals, but they will not truly be me now, because they will not be the exact same object. Below I’m primarily attempting to explain a certain viewpoint rather than argue against other viewpoints.

    The first thing I would argue is that a person cannot tell whether their consciousness is continual or not.

    Imagine that a demon destroyed someone’s body every two seconds, and then recreated it each second after he destroyed it. Here is how he does it. He observes the universe at t=0, predicts one of the many likely states the universe could be in at t=1 assuming he were to not intervene, and then destroys the body. Then, at t=1, he creates the universe in the exact state he predicted, which is one of the likely states the universe would have been in had the body not been destroyed.

    The question is, would the person, from their own point of view, notice that this was happening? Would anything seem strange? I reckon everything would seem normal, even though they would only be living half of their life. They would still feel as though their consciousness was continual, even though physical continuity would only exist for one second at a time. Now, of course, in actuality their consciousness would not be continual. However, the point is that they would perceive it to be continual, at least during the moments in which they could have such a perception. Their existence would be interrupted mid-thought over and over, but whatever part of their thought actually exists will be of an ordinary nature.

    One could say that what is happening here is that there are many lives that are only lasting for one second at a time, but if the demon had not done anything then there would just be one long life. In other words, when the demon destroys the bodies, we have several different conscious entities in some sense, whereas when the demon does not destroy the bodies, we just have one. However, consider that during every other second, the experiences of the person being destroyed and the person not being destroyed are both the same. I think it’s an unnecessary additional postulate to say that even though this is true, one of the sets of experiences ranges across multiple conscious entities, while the other ranges across only one. So let’s not assume such a thing. If we don’t assume such a thing, or anything similar, then we are forced to say that whether the person is destroyed every second or not does not matter insofar as how many conscious lives are being involved. In other words, they both have the same number of conscious lives, assuming we can define that notion rigorously. Since it seems to be a rather fuzzy concept to say that a conscious life is only preserved up to some arbitrary amount of change, we can adjust our intuitions slightly and accept a stricter and more rigorous notion of identity which holds that any change in external relations or internal state constitutes a distinct object. The point isn’t to say that there is no meaningfulness to the notion of a continual life, but rather to say that we can use a more powerful tool in assessing certain philosophical questions by appealing to a stricter definition of identity. Then, if we are fortunate enough, we can meet up with our intuition again at the end of it, even if our intuition changes in the process of the analysis.

    One could say that there is still some form of physical continuity, even though the bodies are being destroyed every other second. Well, I would say that since the body that is recreated is of a different arrangement, and inevitably of a different location as well, that it is for all intents and purposes a copy. It’s not even an identical copy, and the original is destroyed.

    One could say that it would be impossible for the person to feel that their experiences were ordinary and continual if they were being destroyed every other second in the manner described above. However, if this were true, then we might imagine at some point they would have a thought to the effect that something awkward was going on because something didn’t feel right. Where could such a thought come from? Either they were going to have such a thought anyway, or something above and beyond the physical situation must be playing a role, since physically they are identical to the version of themselves (during every other second) that is not being destroyed every second.

    Ultimately, it would be of no real consequence to me whether the copy or the original were destroyed, because the sense in which I would cease to be were the original destroyed would be practically the same as the sense in which I would cease to be anyway, just as a result of normal physical changes. I tried to explain why I see it this way above. I should also mention that I don’t believe consciousness can be broken down into moments. Physically that’s just not working, and I think that’s clear if one attempts to imagine what a single conscious moment would look like in terms of brain activity. So on short time intervals there are some perplexing questions about how to define certain things, but I think we can mostly ignore this problem for the kinds of questions being asked here.

    Perhaps the strangest part about this whole notion is that it seems like what happens to me in the future is of great personal concern. However, if that person isn’t strictly myself now, then why should I feel personal concern? If it’s not for some intrinsic reason concerning our similarities, then what could it be? I can’t argue against that, but I can provide an alternative viewpoint that might make it less necessary to argue against such a notion. I would say that I certainly feel like they are of great personal concern, but this is clearly a result of evolution doing its job. If I didn’t feel concern for them then I might earn a Darwin Award. Even though it seems right that they are valuable to me in a way that transcends the value of someone like my neighbor, this is simply a perspective that comes along with being human. It would theoretically be possible to alter a brain so that someone found their neighbor’s life to be of their own intrinsic concern in the same way we feel our future lives are of our own intrinsic concern. Would we be mistaken? Perhaps, but I find it comes at no cost to do away with that notion.

    I’m not aware of any inconsistencies in these views, although they are not intuitive for most people. If I ever manage to make better sense of a different view then I would be happy to adapt it.

  88. Davdoodleson 25 Apr 2013 at 5:49 am

    Perhaps the problem I’m having with this question is not a medical or physical one, it’s a philosophical one.

    “Oh man, imagine if the universe is an atom in an even larger universe” blah blah. That kind of stuff.

    It’s all been downhill since Bertrand Russell.

    It seems to me that:

    If a person is “transported” a-la Star Trek, they are the one-and-the-same person. For All It Matters.

    If a person is “copied” (ie an “original” and an identical “copy” both exist), it’s complicated, but they are both people who probably think they are the same person, at least for a while. ‘Who owns what’, and ‘who lives where’ are the biggest issues here. For All It Matters.

    If a person is seamlessly de- and re- constructed, so they are a continuous, albeit entirely artificial re-constructed, in the same spot, in ‘real time’, s/he is the same person. For All It Matters.

    But, as I say, I’m only interested in philosophy, to the extent it matters.
    .

  89. Vanillaon 25 Apr 2013 at 5:50 am

    Of course there could be many inconsistencies. As I said, it’s what makes the most sense to me right now, but it’s all tentative and philosophical.

  90. BillyJoe7on 25 Apr 2013 at 5:58 am

    Well, Davdoodles, dualism is intuitive and it’s an intuition that’s difficult to overcome.
    The teleporter shows up this difficulty.
    That’s why it matters. (;

  91. evhantheinfidelon 25 Apr 2013 at 6:09 am

    A very Feynmanish approach. I actually love this sort of thing! I agree that philosophy that “doesn’t matter” should be put on the back burners when there are more pressing matters, but I don’t like all of the poopooing that some of the empiricists do.

  92. Nitpickingon 25 Apr 2013 at 6:51 am

    “The question is not – can you tell them apart….
    Will you experience the copy’s existence in the same way that you are currently experiencing your own existence? The answer is obviously no, and no one has actually addressed that point here.”

    For values of “obviously” that include “… to Steve and ccbowers.”

    I disagree. Given that continuity in any of the three senses I mentioned above is an illusion in the first place, given that three-seconds-from-now me has already had countless discontinuities from now-me (because time is quantized), I once more disagree with that assertion. In the quoted text Steve is presuming that “you” is well-defined, even as he has written previously in Neurologica that consciousness is an illusion, and has failed to clearly define “continuity” for this purpose.

  93. PNJeffrieson 25 Apr 2013 at 7:22 am

    I think that the teleporter example muddies the water a bit, so I’d like to propose a slightly more straightforward illustration:

    Imagine we have built a machine that, over a couple of months, takes every single atom in your body and one by one discards them and replaces them in-situ with another atom in an identical state.

    Using Steve’s logic, continuity will be preserved and the ‘me’ at the end of this process will be the same as the ‘me’ at the start. It’s just an accelerated version of what is going on anyway.

    Now we start to improve this machine and make it faster and faster, so that we go from taking months to do it down to days, hours, minutes, seconds and finally nanoseconds. Continuity is still maintained, it’s just that the transition period is shorter.

    Finally, we improve the machine to the point that it can do the job instantaneously – every atom in our bodies can be simultanously replaced with a new one that is identical in every observable way.

    Is this still ‘me’?

    I’m guessing Steve would say no, because continuity has been broken – what we are doing is not really any different from creating a copy and deleting the original – but the net result in this last case is exactly the same as that of the slightly slower version. The only real difference is that there’s no stage where the old and new matter are intermingling, so the only way I can really see continuity making any meaningful difference is if, during this period, something were being transferred from the old matter to the new, which smells rather strongly of dualism to me.

  94. jasonnybergon 25 Apr 2013 at 9:44 am

    To boil all the latest thought exercises down:

    Given: A Person walks into a “black box”; An identical Person walks out of the “black box”;

    Question: If there’s no external evidence whatsoever of what happened inside the “black box”, including the physical and mental state of the Person, _is what happened inside the black box important?_

    IMHO, no, given that _anything_ that happened inside the “black box” is indistinguishable from _nothing_ happening.

    Jason

  95. Murmuron 25 Apr 2013 at 9:57 am

    Jason, your thought experiment depends on whether you are the one to walk into the black box.

    If it is someone else, then it matters little to you and you can say no, it is not important.

    If it is you. If your consciousness ends when you walk into the box, then it doesn’t matter what walks out afterwards.

    If you are not talking about yourself, then everything else is just an elaborate Schrodinger’s Cat quandry and not really what the blog is about.

  96. Steven Novellaon 25 Apr 2013 at 10:36 am

    I love a good nerd debate, and the continuity problem is always a reliable trigger. Thanks for all the awesome comments.

    Couple of further observations – regarding the sleeping example.

    What you would experience is this: You go to sleep at night, and at some point your existence ends and there is nothing but oblivion. What happens after that is irrelevant to you.

    A consistent point if disagreement is over POV. When I say that continuity matters, I mean from the pov of the person who either has continuity or not, not the rest of the world. I think we all agree that to the rest of the world an exact copy is as good as the original.

    The most interesting part of the discussion to me is the gray zone between continuity and obvious discontinuity. In short, I think that we agree that our current state is one of fairly durable physical continuity, but this continuity is not absolute. While our neurons largely are not replaced (as someone falsely stated) our atoms are being constantly replaced. Also, we are constantly chaning by experience and biological processes. Brains are not static.

    At the other end of the spectrum there is total physical discontinuity – your brain is vaporized.

    I am arguing that brain vaporiziation = death because of the absolute physical discontinuity it represents. From your subjective perspective, no amount or precision of scanning, copying, uploading, etc. matters. Pattern information alone is not enough.

    The real philosophical question is this – as people are aptly demonstrating there is a smooth continuum between our normal living physical continuity and brain vaporization. We can construct endless scenarios pushing the limits of continuity. I don’t think I can construct an algorith or list of criteria that will draw a sharp demarcation line between acceptable continuity and clear discontinuity. That does not mean, however, that the two ends of the spectrum are not meaningfully different (that’s the false continuum logical fallacy).

    I will also say that I don’t think elementary particles matter. They are ephermeral anyway. You being you is not dependent on being made of particular electrons.

    But, at the macroscopic scale of your brain, there is a certain material stability, and that (in addition to the pattern) is part of your existence.

  97. Ian Wardellon 25 Apr 2013 at 10:51 am

    I’m not a materialist, but there’s absolutely no continuity problem here for the materialist because the materialist cannot believe in a persisting self in the first place!

    I’ve already written about this on a blog. Just skip down to the 4th Paragraph:

    http://ianwardell.blogspot.co.uk/search?updated-min=2012-01-01T00:00:00Z&updated-max=2013-01-01T00:00:00Z&max-results=2

    BillyJoe7 are you the same guy who used to go on the JREF forum? If you are I was “Interesting Ian” on there.

  98. jasonnybergon 25 Apr 2013 at 11:29 am

    Steve: “I am arguing that brain vaporiziation = death because of the absolute physical discontinuity it represents. From your subjective perspective, no amount or precision of scanning, copying, uploading, etc. matters. Pattern information alone is not enough.”

    I simply don’t see your “absolute physical discontinuity” as being so “absolute”, when there is an absolutely physically identical restoration created in the scenario that can carry on as if nothing happened.

    What exactly is the mysterious ingredient that the original has, that the restoration lacks?

    Jason

  99. Bruce Woodwardon 25 Apr 2013 at 11:32 am

    Jason.

    Wow… ok… here, answer this, if someone creates an exact copy of you, do you think that you will now experience being both of those people as on consciousness?

    Or do you think that the copy will have a separate consciousness?

  100. ccbowerson 25 Apr 2013 at 11:39 am

    “Sure, if you knew this might happen, psychologically it might play with your mind and you might not sleep at all. But that was not my scenario and you have avoiding addressing it by changing it.”

    No, I did not avoid it- I was just pointing out why your senario doesn’t shed any light on the issue. The reason why it wouldn’t matter to me is that, in your senario either: 1. I would be the “replacement,” and therefore none of that matters to me or 2. I would be my original self, which again is fine. The senario that matters is if you are the one who is to be replaced (there is the valid argument that you wouldn’t know it therefore it doesn’t matter, but the original senario is that you have a choice) Removing the choice changes the senario

    “It is not ‘you’ and ‘the copy’, it is ‘the original brain state’ and ‘the copy brain state’
    If you want to claim ownership of ‘the original brain state’, you are making a dualist argument.”

    It is not a dualist argument because we are not talking about anything immaterial here: there are actually two individuals involved, and one is gone. Although they are “the same” in this thought experiment, do you conclude that 2 of the same thing = 1?

  101. jasonnybergon 25 Apr 2013 at 11:55 am

    Ian, you’ve presented the materialist position as well if not better than any I’ve seen here, and I agree with your conclusion that the materialist position by definition _necessitates_ that “the copy is the same as the original.” To argue otherwise is to argue for something non-materialistic.

    Jason

  102. Steven Novellaon 25 Apr 2013 at 12:16 pm

    jason – you are confusing identical with the same. The original and the copy can be identical, and even contrived in such a way that their experience after copying is identical and they do not know who is the original and who is the copy – but there are two of them. They are not the same physical thing, they are two identical copies of the same thing -they are two things. This fact seems to be missing from your logic. There is nothing magical in the original (that’s a straw man), the original is simply a different being than the copy. One copy does not carry on the existence of the other – they both carry on their own existence.

  103. ccbowerson 25 Apr 2013 at 12:51 pm

    “One copy does not carry on the existence of the other – they both carry on their own existence.”

    I have said nearly the exact same thing above, and have been accused of thinking like a dualist. Why, because I think 2=2, and not 2=1? Just because they are identical, that does not mean that there is no longer 2. I don’t even know how people are thinking that there are. If there are 1 million copies, does that also reduce to 1?

  104. the absent-mindedon 25 Apr 2013 at 2:24 pm

    ccbowers, I too agree with you and Steven. And as I said in my first comment, I think the other side’s understanding of consciousness is tantamount to dualism. I get a feeling they think that because the copy is identical, there is some mysterious connection, a shared experience.

    And jasonnyberg’s black box example is absolutely baffling to me. Imagine a similar box that copies the original, spits out copies, but leaves the original unharmed and trapped in the box. From the outside perspective it really doesn’t matter what happened inside the box. But from the perspective of the poor, trapped, original jasonnyberg?

  105. jasonnybergon 25 Apr 2013 at 2:42 pm

    Steve, re: “They are not the same physical thing, they are two identical copies of the same thing -they are two things. This fact seems to be missing from your logic. There is nothing magical in the original (that’s a straw man), the original is simply a different being than the copy. One copy does not carry on the existence of the other – they both carry on their own existence.”

    Actually, I’m in total agreement with you on this, and I even wrote earlier saying the same thing. (see link below) I.e. it’s not “missing from my logic.”

    BTW, I said “mysterious”, not “magical.” I said this because, despite your apparent _current_ agreement that there’s nothing special that the original has that the copy doesn’t, you’ve been claiming that a perfect copy of “you” isn’t as much “you” as “you”.

    Let me juxtapose two statements from you which IMHO are contradictory:

    Current You: “The original and the copy can be identical, and even contrived in such a way that their experience after copying is identical and they do not know who is the original and who is the copy – but there are two of them.”

    Earlier You: “Only the original carries forward your continuous consciousness. The other started it’s existence a moment ago, but has the memories of a past it never lived.”

    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/the-continuity-problem/comment-page-2/#comment-52905

    I argue, that if even THEY can’t devise an experiment to tell which is which, then _it doesn’t matter_ which is which. I.e. materialism in a nutshell.

    As far as I can tell, you’ve just been slapping a label saying “Original Continuous Consciousness” on one of two indistinguishable entities, and then claiming that the label is significant.

    Jason

    PS: I would pay to see Original Steve Novella try to tell Copy Steve Novella that he wasn’t actually Steve Novella…

    PPS: If I can get you to apply a little introspection to your position, Is it possible that you’ve argued that “death”=”cessation of materialistic mental state” so many times that you’re simply failing to appreciate the repercussions of introducing the ability to replicate and re-embody a person’s materialistic mental state?

  106. jasonnybergon 25 Apr 2013 at 2:50 pm

    ccbowers, I too agree with you and Steven. And as I said in my first comment, I think the other side’s understanding of consciousness is tantamount to dualism. I get a feeling they think that because the copy is identical, there is some mysterious connection, a shared experience.

    A shared history. Not any post-copy link.

    And jasonnyberg’s black box example is absolutely baffling to me. Imagine a similar box that copies the original, spits out copies, but leaves the original unharmed and trapped in the box. From the outside perspective it really doesn’t matter what happened inside the box. But from the perspective of the poor, trapped, original jasonnyberg?

    So you agree then, unless you look in the black box…

    Point, me.

    Jason

  107. daedalus2uon 25 Apr 2013 at 6:24 pm

    A problem with this discussion is that our definitions don’t hold in many of these extreme examples. If you want to deny that an identical copy is the same “life”, you have to be able to use a definition of “life” that can distinguish between these different identical copies, and you have to use definitions that are consistent with reality as we know it.

    In other words you can’t invoke “action at a distance” or “instantaneous” any more than you can invoke an immaterial mind, magic or a soul.

    In other words, we don’t need to have coherent ideas of what will happen in impossible situations that are not just unlikely, they are impossible. The making of an identical copy seems to be actually impossible under quantum mechanics.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_cloning_theorem

  108. randallon 25 Apr 2013 at 6:32 pm

    The point you insist on missing is that physical continuity is not important. The fact is clear that any reproduction of your brain functions, no matter what the physical mechanism, will result in the same subjective experience. The illusion of consciousness is not the subjective experience of consciousness, but our notion that consciousness has a “unique” physical continuity beyond the operation of the physical constituents which carry out its subfunctions. These subfunctions, as you pointed out, may be implemented by different physical mechanisms. Hence the physical constituents on which consciousness depends, are not unique. Having two reproductions of the same mental state on two different platforms both experiencing “uniqueness”, is not a problem or a paradox. It is exactly what would happen if we set up a “simulated” version of ourselves electronically and a “real” version of ourselves with an organic brain, or if we made a completely organic copy of ourselves. If we transport ourselves via reproduction, the original could be left in place, or destroyed. The original would rightly object, only if it knew it was about to be destroyed. Your reluctance to release your organic brain without some direct physical connection to a reproduced part, a “backup”, is testament to the strength of the illusion that your consciousness has physical continuity. It is such a strong illusion that you ignore the obvious facts, and create a “problem” where there is none.

  109. Vanillaon 25 Apr 2013 at 7:10 pm

    I absolutely agree that the copy, even if it was somehow exactly the ‘same’ as the original, is distinct. There would be two consciousness, each distinct from each other. This might seem strange, because from each person’s point of view they couldn’t tell the difference. That is irrelevant though. What’s relevant is that the set of relations to the external world will be different for each of them. Think of two identical particles, but one is nearer to the sun than the other one is. It is then distinct from the other particle. It has a different location, for example.

    If two things are the same internally, and they share the same set of relations to the external world, then they would be the same exact object. If there is any statement of one which is not true of the other, then they are different. If there were two people who were the same internally, they would still be distinct from each other externally. It would be two conscious entities. It would be the same set of experiences, but twice.

    So if the original dies, then the original really does die. However, I think there’s no real difference between creating a copy and destroying the original versus just changing the original, given that the end state is the same. If someone destroyed me and created a copy of me in state B, then that would be of no significant difference than if I just changed into state B without being destroyed. It would be the same life in state B, at least if we ignore differences in the history (one was created, one just came into being from a prior being) for a moment and just focus on the raw idea here.

  110. DouglasJBenderon 25 Apr 2013 at 8:11 pm

    Two things:

    …First, this whole “conundrum” vanishes if one recognizes that a person is NOT merely a physical being, but that they have a spirit which “enervates” their physical body (the two are separated at death, yet the spirit maintains consciousness, and is the “true” person).

    …Second, the core issue doesn’t require that the original be destroyed — Just imagine that there was a “replicator” instead of a “transporter”, from which one or more similarly identical copies of “you” are produced, but without the destruction of your original body. Would those new copies all be “you”? Would the “Continuity Problem” then not simply disappear? After all, to make such a situation essentially the same as in the transporter scenario, you could just vaporize the original you upon the creation of the copy. Presto — “Transported” a few feet.

  111. Nitpickingon 25 Apr 2013 at 9:01 pm

    If you make a reasonably exact duplicate of me (as D2U says, you can’t make a truly exactly duplicate–but then, you can’t be the same for longer than one Planck duration even as the original for the same reason), each of the two people you end up with will have a separate consciousness, surely.

    And both will be “me” to exactly the same extent. Vaporize one and “I” am still alive, to the extent that those quoted words mean anything.

  112. Haystackon 25 Apr 2013 at 10:46 pm

    Thanks for discussing this. I’ve been puzzling over this problem for some time and was glad to hear you bring it up on the SGU. If you get a chance, I’d be interested to hear your further thoughts.

    I didn’t quite follow why you placed such significance on the historical continuity of the physical substrate. You say, for example, that the post-transport version of you “has your memories and thoughts and everything that is your consciousness,” but that, regardless, “It’s just not you. It’s a copy.” But–what makes it “not you?” In the absence of some kind of metaphysical soul that belongs only to one version and not the other, how is it possible to draw a meaningful distinction between the two? Would it not make more sense to say that the copy is “also you?” Or, for that matter, that three such copies would be “a lot of you?”

    To me the continuity problem seems to suggest that our concept of “self” is a lot more fluid than we suppose it to be. That is, that we experience our self as more fixed, and more distinct from others, than it is in reality.

    How would you respond to an Eastern philosophical or monistic interpretation of the continuity problem?

  113. OrbiterFunon 25 Apr 2013 at 11:18 pm

    I also wouldn’t want to use a transporter. For me, one of the most memorable “Outer Limits” episodes is “Think Like a Dinosaur”, which touches on this topic. Maybe you’ve seen. They “balance the equation” after transporting. You can watch it here
    http://www.hulu.com/watch/69830

  114. OrbiterFunon 25 Apr 2013 at 11:43 pm

    And here’s a Sci-Fi short
    http://vimeo.com/6312563

  115. BillyJoe7on 26 Apr 2013 at 8:24 am

    Ian Wardell,

    “I’m not a materialist, but there’s absolutely no continuity problem here for the materialist because the materialist cannot believe in a persisting self in the first place!”

    Unfortunately, many materialists do not actually understand materialism. For the materialist, there can be no soul, spirit, or self, and that’s the only way to achieve continuity. Clearly this is a dualist concept. I’m truely surprised to see that Steven Novella and ccbowers do not understand this point. The problem is that dualism is intuitive – our whole language is dualist – whilst materialism is counterintuitive.

    “http://ianwardell.blogspot.co.uk/search?updated-min=2012-01-01T00:00:00Z&updated-max=2013-01-01T00:00:00Z&max-results=2″

    Some quotes for the materialists here to think about:

    “At that instant when the replica is created the replica necessarily must be you if it is physically identical. To deny this is to affirm that what “you” are is something over and above the totality of your physicality”

    ” to deny that the replica is the very same person is not only to deny that ones total physicality fixes identity, but also that the totality of ones psychological states, including memories, fails to fix identity too!”

    “the materialist has to reject the notion of a persisting self. That’s all an illusion. There is only the sense of a self, but that sense corresponds to no real self”

    “Of course psychologically she is likely to be very frightened indeed! This reflects the fact that we are all instinctively strong dualists, or at least that we are persisting selves i.e substantial selves. It is overwhelmingly counter-intuitive to suppose otherwise”

    Well, here we have a non materialist who understands materialism better than those claiming to be materialists!

    “BillyJoe7 are you the same guy who used to go on the JREF forum? If you are I was “Interesting Ian” on there.”

    Yes. I got sick of the moderation, and the double standard. And Randi attacking long time posters who disagreed with him, especially after his misreading of the climate change debate, was the last straw.
    And, if I remember correctly, you are an Idealist?

  116. BillyJoe7on 26 Apr 2013 at 8:37 am

    Steven Novella,

    “What you would experience is this: You go to sleep at night, and at some point your existence ends and there is nothing but oblivion. What happens after that is irrelevant to you”

    For a materialist, that word “you” is simply a label for a mental state. And that mental state is identical in the original and the copy at the point of vapourisation/duplication. “You” go to sleep. “You” wake up in the morning. Really, think about it. You could have been vapourised/duplicated last night and absolutely nothing would be different.

  117. BillyJoe7on 26 Apr 2013 at 8:40 am

    ccbowers,

    “I…have been accused of thinking like a dualist. Why, because I think 2=2, and not 2=1? Just because they are identical, that does not mean that there is no longer 2. I don’t even know how people are thinking that there are. If there are 1 million copies, does that also reduce to 1?”

    This is so far from the point we are trying to make that it is hard to know where to begin to respond.

  118. sonicon 26 Apr 2013 at 10:06 am

    The difference between the original and the copy is where they are viewing the world now.
    One thing that makes me unique is that I am the only one who sees exactly what I see right now.
    Two different places to view form- two different beings.

    The notion that there is no difference between an original and the copy ignores this physical fact.

  119. ccbowerson 26 Apr 2013 at 10:31 am

    “This is so far from the point we are trying to make that it is hard to know where to begin to respond.”

    Probably because the latter part of this comment has to do with someone else’s comments not anything you said. You have failed to point out what the flaw is, and how dualism even enters the equation. The people who have a similar understanding to me on this post (as far as I can tell) are Steve, philosofrenzy and theabsentmined, and not a dualist among us (they can correct me if I’m wrong). I have yet to see anyone point out the problem in a convincing way. If anything you have failed to demonstrate your point:

    “For a materialist, that word “you” is simply a label for a mental state. And that mental state is identical in the original and the copy at the point of vapourisation/duplication. “You” go to sleep. “You” wake up in the morning. Really, think about it. You could have been vapourised/duplicated last night and absolutely nothing would be different.”

    For a materialist, saying a “mental state” isn’t enough, because “mental states” don’t ‘exist’ outside of a physical body, correct? And yes, the mental state is the same in both the copy and the original as the physical body is the same, and yes in the morning for whichever ‘you’ is there, nothing would be different. However, if the original was vaporized, and replaced with a copy, there is one dead individual (i.e. no longer living because no longer existing) and an additional identical individual. Which part do you disagree with?

  120. jasonnybergon 26 Apr 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Steve,

    I was going through the thread researching your position for one intended post, and in doing so found we’re in more agreement than I thought, negating the purpose of my original post. To wit, early on you wrote (and subsequently reinforced):

    Physical continuity does not matter to the rest of the world – they will not be able to tell the difference between the original you and the copy. But it will matter to the original you, whose existence has ended.

    I.e. you accept that what happens “in the black box” doesn’t matter to the rest of the universe.

    The issue you seem to feel hasn’t been addressed is:

    A consistent point if disagreement is over POV. When I say that continuity matters, I mean from the pov of the person who either has continuity or not, not the rest of the world. I think we all agree that to the rest of the world an exact copy is as good as the original.

    I believe that the illusion of consciousness will bridge the discontinuity, therefore I would use the teleporter; I trust the materialistic viewpoint, i.e. that if the mechanism that generates the illusion could be sufficiently reproduced, then the illusion of consciousness will appear continuous, from “my POV”.

    Jason

  121. jasonnybergon 26 Apr 2013 at 1:34 pm

    For a materialist, saying a “mental state” isn’t enough, because “mental states” don’t ‘exist’ outside of a physical body, correct? And yes, the mental state is the same in both the copy and the original as the physical body is the same, and yes in the morning for whichever ‘you’ is there, nothing would be different. However, if the original was vaporized, and replaced with a copy, there is one dead individual (i.e. no longer living because no longer existing) and an additional identical individual. Which part do you disagree with?

    Actually, there would be no dead individual (it’s existence erased by the “vaporization” process) and, thus, no additional person. I.e. net zero gain/loss of people.

    Assuming the copy is of sufficient fidelity (which is implied if “the copy and the rest of the universe can’t tell the difference”) it will continue with the generation of the illusion of consciousness where the original left off, which includes “your POV.” I.e. there is no discontinuity in the illusion of consciousness.

    In the case of duplicates, there is no discontinuity, but a branching.

    Jason

  122. starikon 26 Apr 2013 at 2:34 pm

    I agree with the last half of what Jason just said. You would branch into two distinct individuals, neither of which has more claim than the other to continuity with the original single stream of consciousness. If you told me before copying me that the copy would immediately be vaporized, but the original me would be allowed to live, it would bother me just as much as the Star Trek transporter method (killing the original). In both cases I will die.

    Now after the copying, it depends on which me you asked. Knowing me, I’d definitely say kill the other guy. But BEFORE the copying, I’m BOTH of those future me’s.

  123. starikon 26 Apr 2013 at 2:49 pm

    We have a very strong intuition that our consciousness exists as this single entity moving through time. This is an illusion, because you only exist in the present. The illusion is created by the fact that you have memory of the past. To believe that the original substrate contains the real, original consciousness, while a structurally identical copy does not, is dualist.

  124. ccbowerson 26 Apr 2013 at 3:03 pm

    “Actually, there would be no dead individual (it’s existence erased by the “vaporization” process) and, thus, no additional person. I.e. net zero gain/loss of people.”

    ‘Existence erased’ for a living thing = death. It looks like you are making a disctintion with no difference, but perhaps it was just a limitation of language or how I worded it.

    The fact that there is a net effect of zero change in number of people from ‘point A’ to ‘point B’ does not make what happens in between ‘A’ and ‘B’ disappear. If you make a copy of person then you should have 2 identical people, if you only have 1 person, then the other one died.

  125. ccbowerson 26 Apr 2013 at 3:06 pm

    “To believe that the original substrate contains the real, original consciousness, while a structurally identical copy does not, is dualist.”

    I don’t think anyone is making this argument. In fact I am arguing just the opposite… they both have the same consciousness, but that since there are 2 of the same individual, there are 2 of the same consciousnesses. Yet it seems that some here are arguing that because they are the same that the death of one doesn’t matter.

  126. starikon 26 Apr 2013 at 3:51 pm

    It seems to me that Steve is arguing that bit you just quoted from me.

    To me, both copies matter equally to the person from whom they came, before the copying. To Steve and others, the original is what carries on the original person’s life and the copy is brand new (even though he/she doesn’t feel like it).

  127. BillyJoe7on 26 Apr 2013 at 3:59 pm

    sonic,

    “The difference between the original and the copy is where they are viewing the world now”

    If, at the point of vapourisation/duplication the original and the copy are asleep, or anaesthetised, they are not even viewing the world, so where is your difference now?

    “One thing that makes me unique is that I am the only one who sees exactly what I see right now”

    Does that mean that, when you are asleep or anaesthetised, you are no longer unique?

    “Two different places to view form- two different beings”

    In the vapourisation/duplication scenario, the copy occupies the same space as the original, if they are awake during this process, they would both view the same things.

    “The notion that there is no difference between an original and the copy ignores this physical fact”

    I have just demonstrated that “this physical fact” makes no difference for a materialist.
    Now, if you were to posit a spirit, soul, or self, then you would have a point. Unfortunately that would also make you a dualist.

  128. Vanillaon 26 Apr 2013 at 4:23 pm

    Haystack,

    “In the absence of some kind of metaphysical soul that belongs only to one version and not the other, how is it possible to draw a meaningful distinction between the two? Would it not make more sense to say that the copy is ‘also you?’ Or, for that matter, that three such copies would be ‘a lot of you?’”
    -Haystack

    The ‘meaningful’ distinction is that the two objects aren’t the same. One might be closer to a certain planet than the other, for example. From each person’s point of view, there is no difference, but they are still distinct. I don’t think you would be either of them, in a strict sense. The “original” is no longer the true original because time has passed and it has changed physically, and the copy is not the original either. Would it be best if the copy died? I don’t think there’s an answer. In exotic scenarios the concept of there being a best decision tends to break down.

  129. Vanillaon 26 Apr 2013 at 4:24 pm

    Well, if you consider that a meaningful distinction. I imagine you don’t, in which case I agree with you on that point.

  130. jasonnybergon 26 Apr 2013 at 4:27 pm

    ccbowers,

    The fact that there is a net effect of zero change in number of people from ‘point A’ to ‘point B’ does not make what happens in between ‘A’ and ‘B’ disappear.

    What happens between A and B doesn’t go away, but if it’s you going from point A to point B, you won’t notice what happened whlie the material engine generating the illusion of your consciousness/POV is “down.”

    “Your POV” will be restarted, with no apparent discontinuity, when the new engine starts to generate it again.

    I don’t think anyone is making this argument. In fact I am arguing just the opposite… they both have the same consciousness, but that since there are 2 of the same individual, there are 2 of the same consciousnesses. Yet it seems that some here are arguing that because they are the same that the death of one doesn’t matter.

    It doesn’t matter to the continuation of “the consciousness” if one of the “2 of the same consciousness” is destroyed.

    Of course, there is a moral issue with the unnecessarily imposed destruction of a perfectly viable consciousness!

    To that effect, the owner of the consciousness might find it VERY important to maintain a single, unbranching line of his own consciousness, precisely to avoid the ethical issues that arise from allowing it to branch. In a world with teleporter technology, I’d expect that society will have to work out what rights (copyrights?) an individual has relating to ownership of their own consciousness, just as society is currently working through what rights an individual has relating to ownership of their own genome.

    Jason

  131. jasonnybergon 26 Apr 2013 at 4:28 pm

    Missed a “close blockquote” in that last message after the first sentence…

  132. BillyJoe7on 26 Apr 2013 at 6:13 pm

    ccbowers,

    “The people who have a similar understanding to me on this post…are Steve, philosofrenzy and theabsentmined, and not a dualist among us”

    But your conclusion, your way of thinking about this question is identical to how a dualist thinks and concludes about this question. Doesn’t that give you pause for thought?

    “I have yet to see anyone point out the problem in a convincing way. If anything you have failed to demonstrate your point”

    Obviously. But others had a hard time trying to explain it to me, so I won’t feel too bad.

    “For a materialist, saying a “mental state” isn’t enough, because “mental states” don’t ‘exist’ outside of a physical body, correct?”
    Yes.

    “And yes, the mental state is the same in both the copy and the original as the physical body is the same”
    Yes, except that I would have used the word “identical” rather than “same”.

    “and yes in the morning for whichever ‘you’ is there, nothing would be different”
    Correct. Because the ‘you’ in the original brain is identical to the ‘you’ in the copy brain.

    “However, if the original was vaporized, and replaced with a copy, there is one dead individual (i.e. no longer living because no longer existing) and an additional identical individual”
    Or, in materialist’s language, there is a dead ‘you’ replaced by an identical living ‘you’

    “Which part do you disagree with?”
    The fact that it matters.
    Ccbowers went to sleep last night and woke up this morning.
    It doesn’t matter whether or not he was vapourised/duplicated while he slept.

  133. sonicon 26 Apr 2013 at 8:28 pm

    BillyJoe7-
    You seem to be unaware that you are aware when you sleep. (And perhaps in a coma too!) :-)

    And no two copies are going to be seeing the same thing– that is two objects don’t occupy the same space.
    If you mean one is destroyed completely and the other is remade in exactly the same place, then the copy has to be different from the original in that the original no longer exists and the copy does exist.

    So the copy will not be seeing what the original is seeing– the original is dead and can’t possibly have the same brain state as the original.

    BTW- A dualist would have no problem with a spirit inhabiting one body and then the other. The ‘continuity problem’ doesn’t exist for the dualist– the spirit is in one body and then the other– and yes, bodies come and go– in fact the one I have now doesn’t have many of the same atoms or whatever than it did a few years back- right?
    So I would think the dualist would agree with you- nothing important dies when you vaporize a body and it is no problem to resume with a new one- I would suggest Dr. N.’s perspective on this would be more perplexing to a dualist– why would he care what body he has as long as they are both the same?

    It is the materialist in me that notes the original and copy are not the same and that it matters.

  134. ccbowerson 26 Apr 2013 at 9:11 pm

    “Yes, except that I would have used the word ‘identical’ rather than ‘same’.”

    Yes, I meant same in the ‘same’ sense as ‘identical’ NOT that there is a shared mental state.

    “But your conclusion, your way of thinking about this question is identical to how a dualist thinks and concludes about this question. Doesn’t that give you pause for thought?”

    No, because I believe you are incorrect in saying that my thinking is “identical” to a dualist, in fact it is not even similar. As uncomfortable as I am in saying this, Sonic has a point when he says a dualist could have more similarities with your perspective if the person’s “spirit” associated with both bodies. Another commenter above made the same point.

    “The fact that it matters.
    Ccbowers went to sleep last night and woke up this morning.
    It doesn’t matter whether or not he was vapourised/duplicated while he slept.”

    So you don’t disagree with my description of the senario, but you don’t think that it matters. Matters to whom? Again we are going around in circles with your point never being made other than it doesn’t matter. It matters as much as you think your continued consciousness matters. Making a new one (even identical) doesn’t change the fact that yours is now gone if vaporzied, because the alternative senario could have been that you are not vaporized and there are now 2 of you.

    Would it matter to you if the new you was slightly different in a way that no one else really notices?

  135. BillyJoe7on 27 Apr 2013 at 1:13 am

    ccbowers and sonic,

    I don’t think you understand the different perspectives of the dualist and the materialist.

    The dualist believes there is something above and beyond the physical. The materialist believes there is only the physical. So, if there is a physical brain that has a mental state labelled ‘X’, then if we make a duplicate brain identical to the first, it will also have a mental state labelled ‘X’. For a materialist, that is all there is. Two identical brains with two identical mental states labelled ‘X’. For a duellist, there is something above and beyond the physical – a spirit, soul, or self. The spirit/soul/self cannot be replicated in the duplicate, because it is non-physical and because it is unique. You cannot have the same spirit/soul/self present in two brains.

    Does this make it any clearer?

  136. Mlemaon 27 Apr 2013 at 1:35 am

    wow. I have an uneasy feeling – the web site that was here a while ago has been replaced by one that appears to be the same, but there are unmistakeable differences! Dr. Novella is now a dualist and BillyJoe is making a logically coherent argument…. :)

  137. starikon 27 Apr 2013 at 1:37 am

    The original physical substrate is (mostly) unchanged from one moment to the next. This contains the magic soul that the dualists can’t part with. It’s no use.

  138. starikon 27 Apr 2013 at 1:44 am

    Yahoo Answers is already way ahead of us on this: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090320055607AADuqIB

  139. BillyJoe7on 27 Apr 2013 at 3:47 am

    mlema, thanks for the…um…support.

  140. bsooon 27 Apr 2013 at 8:55 am

    I feel like you have made a lot of assumptions without any evidence to back them up. Given that we have no way to differentiate between a “continuity” of consciousness and a series of “new” consciousnesses with the exact memories of the previous ones, how can you be so sure about any of your statements? How do you know you don’t wake up every day as a new consciousness? How could you distinguish between that and any previous consciousnesses? How do you know that would be any different than being completely disassembled and reconstituted as an exact duplicate of yourself? I don’t think we can definitively state anything about a continuity of consciousness until we understand what consciousness is and why we feel a sense of continuity.

  141. ccbowerson 27 Apr 2013 at 10:14 am

    “I don’t think you understand the different perspectives of the dualist and the materialist.

    The dualist believes there is something above and beyond the physical.”

    Perhaps you are the one lacking in this understanding, because you are the one who brought up dualism, and no one here is promoting the idea of the supernatural. You are the one who attempted (unsuccessfully so far) to draw parallels between dualism and caring if a person is replaced by an identical copy.

    And, since you brought it up, others have pointed out how a dualist could end up not caring that one physical body is destroyed if the “spirit” remains or transfers to the new body. The only comparison being made here is whether or not you care that the original is replaced with a copy. If you have a problem with this comparison, you should wonder why you brought it up. Dualism is really not important for this discussion, and it just clouds the discussion, because no one is making a case for it here.

    I think much of the back and forth is confusion over what the other person is saying.

  142. ccbowerson 27 Apr 2013 at 10:28 am

    “mlema, thanks for the…um…support.”

    BJ7 It looks like this gives you pause. =)

    One thing you did not answer:

    “Would it matter to you if the new you was slightly different in a way that no one else really notices?”

    I’m just wondering if the identical status really makes a difference to you, because your answer to this question will really shed light on if we are disagreeing about anything significant. For me, It makes no difference at all if the new “me” was slightly different (and no one else could tell the difference and he thought/behaved more or less the same as me for the remainder of my life) versus identical. I would still prefer to be the one who remains, but the identical status is not important as long as the copy lives my life as I would and it wouldn’t affect others. The only reason why I care that the copy is not noticed as different is because that could affect the people in my personal life if they noticed big changes, particular bad ones.

    If you have a preference in this senario (if you view the identical and nearly identical senarios differently), then I think you have a problem, but if you don’t- I’m not sure that we disagree about anything of significance.

  143. Mlemaon 27 Apr 2013 at 4:00 pm

    BillyJoe, I call ‘em like I see ‘em. I find no fault with your take on this as a materialist. If consciousness and “youness” is a function, or result, or oscillation, or epiphenomenon, or whatever other physical thing you want to claim – of the physical “you” – then an identical copy is every bit as much you as the original you – including any memory of being copied. Why would either have a greater sense of being “original”? and why would you prefer one over the other if they are identical? And who would be doing the preferring? This preference does seem to suggest the belief that there is “something” that makes an original me more me than a copy of me. But identical is identical.

    If I could instantaneously be in Paris by agreeing to have every atom in me exchanged with completely different atoms, exactly arranged as those that constitute my current self, I would do it. Why would I judge that I would really have died and was now somehow not “me” if, when I arrive, I am exactly the same in every way as when I left?

    Probably overstating this, but, it seems like some believe there would be “something” left behind with the original atoms – something that can’t be reconstituted physically and would be lost once the original atoms are disarranged. What is it about the “original” that would be different from an exact copy? if both are identical physical arrangements? To a materialist, it’s the arrangement of physical particles that makes a person and his consciousness unique, not the actual particles. Right?

  144. BillyJoe7on 27 Apr 2013 at 7:35 pm

    Mlema,

    We are in complete agreement here. (:

    ccbowers,

    This is indeed an argument between dualism and materialism and, if you can’t see that, then you don’t understand either. In fact, it is one of the two quintessential arguments (the other being the argument about freewill) that distinguishes those who are materialists from those who think of themelves as materialists but talk as if they are dualists.

    “Would it matter to you if the new you was slightly different in a way that no one else really notices?”

    You are asking a question using dualist language, which means you must be thinking like a dualist and therefore reaching conclusions like a dualist. It is fine to use dualist language in everyday conversation, but not when we are discussing the difference between dualism and materialism. The question, “would it matter to you?” is loaded with dualist language and therefore the concepts and premises that underly your question are dualist. In other words, you are asking me to accept dualist concepts and premises to justify my materialist stance!

    But, so you don’t think I’m avoiding the question, I will translate it into materialist language based on materialist concepts and arrive at a materialist conclusion. You should then have an account of what a materialist concept of identity looks like. And then you will have a choice – are you a dualist or a materialist when it comes to the question of identity? I will use both dualist and materialist language in an attempt to show the difference in thinking. This is difficult, so bear with me.

    Suppose that all that happened last night was that you were scanned. Or, in materialist language, that a particular brain in a particular brain state at a particular point in time was scanned. We are assuming here that the actual scanning procedure does not change the brain state in any way. Or, in dualist language, that the scanning procedure does not matter. In other words, you wake in the morning and feel just like you would have if you were not scanned. Or, in materialist language, that the brain state will be just as it would have been if it hadn’t been scanned. Of course, this is not to say that the brain state will be the same as it was at the time of the scanning procedure, because brain states are continually changing even when it is asleep and unaware of the changes (in dualist language: when you are asleep and unaware of the changes). Brain states are continually changing. In dualist language: your brain state on going to sleep is not the same as your brain state on waking.

    Bear with me.

    Now, suppose the scan was used to create an exact replica at a distant location. You ask: “would it matter to you?” The materialist wants to ask what do you mean by “you” and what do you mean by “would it matter”? The materialist wants to ask instead: “would it change things for the original brain with its ever changing brain state that an exact replica of its brain and brain state at some point in time was created at a distant location”. See how complicated it gets speaking in materialist language? But it has to be done. The answer is ,of course, not in the slightest. On the other hand, if the duplicate was created right beside the original then, of course, it would change things. Meaning that the trajectory of that brain’s brain state would be different because of the different experience of waking with a duplicate lying beside it.

    Nearly there.

    So now suppose we return to the original scenario where that brain was scanned and vapourised, and duplicated in the same position (in dualist language: suppose we return to the original scenario where you were scanned etc etc). Does it matter to you? Or, in materialist language: does the fact that that brain was scanned, vapourised, and duplicated change the trajectory of ever changing brain states occurring in that particular time and place. The answer is: not in the slightest. What if a slight scanning or duplication error occurred? Would that change the trajectory of ever changing brain states. Yes it would. Obviously. Does it matter to you? Well, now you have to decide if you are a materialist or a dualist. Because that question is only meaningful for a dualist.

  145. Ditheiton 27 Apr 2013 at 7:54 pm

    If I make an identical copy of you right now on Mars, you are still sitting at the computer reading my comment. You don’t experience what the Mars copy is experiencing (this should be obvious, but if you disagree, please state why). If you die, you don’t continue living through your identical copy on Mars. You’re dead. The copy continues to live.

    If you disagree with this, please explain exactly where our interpretations differ.

  146. Mlemaon 27 Apr 2013 at 8:08 pm

    BillyJoe, this is such a weird feeling to totally follow your argument and say that it makes sense (sorry if that’s offensive).

    Let me ask a confounding question: at the moment when the sleeping person is vaporized (with a sort of “copy” waiting in the wings to be created) did that person die? Is the copy then a sort of technical resurrection? Or, because the brain state was the living person, and that exact brain state continued to exist as a sort of blueprint, was the person continually alive? Or, similarly, since the waking person will have no consciousness of discontinuity, he was therefore never really “discontinued”.

    I think it is perhaps this sentiment that Dr. Novella finds unpleasant: that the one physical state must end and an exact one like it begin, and he is mistaking that physical state for some sort of “self” that exists in cooperation with it, and can’t exist any other way even if the same physical thing is constructed in the same spot or elsewhere. This would definitely be a dualist position.

    What about the information component? The information which must exist and be used to reassemble a person becomes an element in itself. Or, in other words: the technology used to scan, vaporize and reconstitute a person can’t be separated from the physical existence of the original and copied person (so to speak).

  147. Ditheiton 27 Apr 2013 at 8:15 pm

    The answer to this is the scenario is one where the original is not killed. You are obviously the original; you would be the one looking upon the copy if a copy of you was made two feet to your left. You would turn your head from the computer and see an identical copy of you. If you were then killed, you would be dead forever. What am I missing?

  148. Mlemaon 27 Apr 2013 at 8:27 pm

    Ditheit, I think your example illustrates something that’s simply impossible for us to conceptualize, which is: what is it like to be two individuals. If you made a copy of me on Mars right now, I would begin to experience what it is like to be me experiencing life on Mars, while still experiencing life in fron of my computer. If I die here, I am still experiencing life on Mars. Since it’s not really possible to experience consciousness as two individuals, the situation is not really one we can explore.

    This discussion is about how anyone identifies with his or her physical body as something they’re living in and looking out at the world through as if eyes are windows. If you’re a monist, an exact physical copy of you would be you, regardless. That is, if you are a materialist who believes that the only thing that exists is your physical body, and the sense of being a living self is merely a function of that physical arrangement of “stuff”, then that identical physical arrangement of “stuff” will always create: you (the sense of being you). If there are two identical physical arrangements of stuff that you identify as yourself, then there are two yous. There would be no reason to identify with one arrangement of stuff over another exact replication of that stuff, because there’s no real “you” to prefer this identification. The “youness” is created by the arrangement of stuff, not visa versa.

    The me on mars would be experiencing: “How did I end up here? I was sitting at my computer, and all of a sudden, here I am on Mars!” And I would have no idea that there was another me still sitting at my computer. And when I died on Mars, I would be dead forever (as far as I knew)

  149. Mlemaon 27 Apr 2013 at 8:32 pm

    ps: if it’s “obvious” that I’m the original, then it wasn’t really a true copy of me. A true copy of me is me. If I wake up next to another me, we are both going to think the other is the copy, because an exact copy will have the same sense of continuity through memory and sense of self.

  150. Ditheiton 27 Apr 2013 at 8:34 pm

    If you made a copy of me on Mars right now, I would begin to experience what it is like to be me experiencing life on Mars, while still experiencing life in fron of my computer. If I die here, I am still experiencing life on Mars. Since it’s not really possible to experience consciousness as two individuals, the situation is not really one we can explore.

    It isn’t like anything to be two individuals. You’re one individual. You’re not on Mars, you’re the consciousness in front of your keyboard. This is what it means to be you. In the sense that other people can’t tell, there is a “you” on Mars and a you at the keyboard. But you’re the consciousness on Earth, right? (Because you’re not experiencing what it’s like to be the consciousness on Mars).

    If there are two identical physical arrangements of stuff that you identify as yourself, then there are two yous.

    Yes, from other people’s perspective. But from your perspective, you’re on Earth, not experiencing what the other “you” is experiencing.

    And I would have no idea that there was another me still sitting at my computer.

    Bingo. When I say you, I’m talking to you, not some hypothetical “you” that is an identical brain state. If you died, you’re gone for good regardless of how many copies you have on Mars, Venus or Vulcan.

  151. Ditheiton 27 Apr 2013 at 8:37 pm

    ps: if it’s “obvious” that I’m the original, then it wasn’t really a true copy of me. A true copy of me is me. If I wake up next to another me, we are both going to think the other is the copy, because an exact copy will have the same sense of continuity through memory and sense of self.

    It’s obvious in the sense that I actually *did* make an identical, true copy of you on Mars. Feel any different? No? Didn’t think so. If I killed you now, you’d be dead forever, not knowing how awesome it is to be alive on Mars. The copy of you is having a good time, though. Does that make you feel any better?

  152. Mlemaon 27 Apr 2013 at 8:57 pm

    It feels like you believe that you have a soul that can only exist in the “original” and that therefore it’s not really possible to make an exact copy. The copy wouldn’t have your soul, even if it had a duplicate consciousness, memories, loved ones, etc., therefore, if the original died, you would really be dead. It doesn’t matter that you exist on Mars because you don’t have your soul in that existence.

  153. Ditheiton 27 Apr 2013 at 9:00 pm

    It feels like you believe that you have a soul that can only exist in the “original” and that therefore it’s not really possible to make an exact copy. The copy wouldn’t have your soul, even if it had a duplicate consciousness, memories, loved ones, etc., therefore, if the original died, you would really be dead. It doesn’t matter that you exist on Mars because you don’t have your soul in that existence.

    No, I do not believe in a soul or anything of the sort. If an exact copy was made of me on Mars, I would still be sitting here, discussing the continuity problem. I would not experience anything on Mars, I’d be sitting here at my computer, right?

  154. Ditheiton 27 Apr 2013 at 9:04 pm

    (ps: you’re talking to the ape sitting at his computer on Earth. In your response, please take that into account even though there is a copy of that monkey on Mars right now, oblivious to the rest of this discussion).

  155. Mlemaon 27 Apr 2013 at 9:11 pm

    again, this is perhaps the difficulty in imaging what it would be like to have two “me”s. Yes, you would be sitting at your computer and you would not be experiencing anything on MArs. But, you would also very much be on Mars, suddenly finding yourself there and still very much yourself, with all your memories, and the feeling of being very much you and not a copy. And you would have no awareness that you still existed on earth, sitting in front of your computer. It would be your life, continuing on Mars!

    try it this way: you’re sitting at your computer, and a copy of you suddenly takes your place without you knowing, and the original you is put on Mars. The copy doesn’t know it’s not still the same original you, because it is in every way physically identical to the original you, so it has all the same feelings of being you, with your memories, your emotions and sensations, etc., and looking at exactly what you were looking at on the computer – no discontinuity of sense of self. The original you is on Mars, having the memory of sitting at the computer and then suddenly finding yourself on Mars. There are TWO yous. If you do not believe in a soul, but only believe that you are a unique arrangement of physical particles with a unique subjective experience of being you, why is one exactly identical arrangement of physical particles more you than another exactly identical arrangement of physical particles?

  156. Ditheiton 27 Apr 2013 at 9:16 pm

    A copy of me was literally made on Mars twenty minutes ago. Nothing from my perspective has changed. I’m still on Earth, discussing the continuity problem. Agree or disagree?

    My perspective is the only thing that matters to me in this regard. I wouldn’t even know a copy of me was made on Mars. If I died right now, I would be dead. I don’t care how many copies live on.

    I fully acknowledge that from everyone else’s perspective, there would be another me on Mars that is, from their perspective, actually me.

    why is one exactly identical arrangement of physical particles more you than another exactly identical arrangement of physical particles?

    Because I am my brain. If my brain is destroyed, I cease to have consciousness/existence.

  157. Mlemaon 27 Apr 2013 at 9:23 pm

    “If my brain is destroyed, I cease to have consciousness/existence.”

    Then, if your brain is recreated, you will again have consciousness/existence! :)

    you’ve come back to the nature of the original discussion: if I vaporized, then reconstituted somewhere else with the exact configuration of the vaporized version, would I do it? Yes, I would. Because I don’t see how I could exist in the exact same way that I did somewhere else without being myself, in the same way that I always was only in different location.

  158. Ditheiton 27 Apr 2013 at 9:25 pm

    try it this way: you’re sitting at your computer, and a copy of you suddenly takes your place without you knowing, and the original you is put on Mars.

    I re-read my last post and realized it might not answer your question fully. I agree that there are two me’s from everyone else’s perspective. If I was teleported to Mars and a copy of me was made in my place, I would be the one experiencing Mars and my copy would continue this discussion right now.

    If I was randomly either the duplicate or the original, I couldn’t tell which I was. The dupe thinks he’s the original of course, but I’m the original. I never asserted that I could tell the difference, merely that I am most definitely only one of them and that I care if I die.

  159. Ditheiton 27 Apr 2013 at 9:27 pm

    Then, if your brain is recreated, you will again have consciousness/existence!

    If I make your brain right now on Mars, do you experience its consciousness/existence? Obviously not, therefore I wouldn’t again have consciousness/existence, another person who thinks he/she is you would.

    you’ve come back to the nature of the original discussion: if I vaporized, then reconstituted somewhere else with the exact configuration of the vaporized version, would I do it? Yes, I would. Because I don’t see how I could exist in the exact same way that I did somewhere else without being myself, in the same way that I always was only in different location.

    …because you’re not the copy I made of you on Mars twenty minutes ago. You’re still at your computer, not experiencing Mars.

  160. Mlemaon 27 Apr 2013 at 9:35 pm

    ” The dupe thinks he’s the original of course, but I’m the original.” How do you know? If you are exactly alike, with the same feeling of being the original, how do you know you are the original? Only the person who did the copying knows which is the original, right? I still think this part of our conversation is confused by the impossibility of being able to “think with two brains”

    “If I make your brain right now on Mars, do you experience its consciousness/existence? Obviously not, therefore I wouldn’t again have consciousness/existence, another person who thinks he/she is you would.”

    Again, impossible thing. I WOULD experience the consciousness of my brain on Mars. If the duplicate is exact, and we are only physical, with no soul, then: it’s NOT another person who thinks he/she’s me, IT’S ME. If I am my brain, as you say, then wherever my brain is: I am!

  161. Mlemaon 27 Apr 2013 at 9:37 pm

    I am enjoying this conversation, but have to run an errand before the store closes. i will look back to see you.
    cheers

  162. ccbowerson 27 Apr 2013 at 10:04 pm

    “Why would either have a greater sense of being “original”? and why would you prefer one over the other if they are identical? And who would be doing the preferring? This preference does seem to suggest the belief that there is “something” that makes an original me more me than a copy of me. But identical is identical.”

    Mlema, I think you (and possibly BJ7) are adding things that are misrepresentations. I do not believe that the original is any more authentic than the copy, nor do I believe that they are not identical. Its just that we can’t forget that there are 2 individuals (2 mental states if you must) and when writing we have to get them straight to have these discussions… even if these are identical- the fact that they are identical does not change the fact that there are two. We are also somewhat avoiding the idea that exactly identical maybe an impossibility, so I attempted to introduce nearly identical to see if it changes anything for BJ7, but I’m still unsure from his response.

    “You are asking a question using dualist language, which means you must be thinking like a dualist and therefore reaching conclusions like a dualist.”

    BJ7- I was not unaware of that issue, and I had intended to put a qualifier in there acknowledging that I was limited by languange, but I forgot. I remembered later, but thought I would be understood anyways. Apparently, I was largely understood, but I was trying to avoid writing a long ackward essay as you did, but apparently you felt it was necessary. I think you did a good job up until the ending, which I think needs elaboration:

    “What if a slight scanning or duplication error occurred? Would that change the trajectory of ever changing brain states. Yes it would. Obviously. Does it matter to you? Well, now you have to decide if you are a materialist or a dualist. Because that question is only meaningful for a dualist.”

    So I’m still unclear about whether it matters to “you,” and by you I mean the person I am currently interacting with. I am trying to inquire about a senario in which the scanning of you resulted in a slightly altered copy (altered in a neutral way), and the current you is then vaporized. How do you view this relative to the copy being precisely identical (and the original vaporized)? Is it more/less/equally preferable?

  163. Ditheiton 27 Apr 2013 at 10:08 pm

    If you are exactly alike, with the same feeling of being the original, how do you know you are the original? Only the person who did the copying knows which is the original, right?

    We both think we are the original. I acknowledge this. I am the original, however. I would be looking at the copy whether I could be certain of it or not. Just because an external observer couldn’t tell doesn’t mean it makes no difference.

    Again, let’s go back to the Mars analogy. If a copy was made on Mars, I’m still here, typing on my computer. It’s still me. Nothing happens to my experience when a copy is built. Making a copy changes absolutely nothing regardless of our ability to tell each other apart.

    I still think this part of our conversation is confused by the impossibility of being able to “think with two brains”

    You can’t think with two brains. There are two individuals/consciousnesses. Me and the copy. We both have separate experiences and brains. Me, here, typing on the computer. Him on Mars, enjoying Marsburgers and Marsbeer.

    Again, impossible thing. I WOULD experience the consciousness of my brain on Mars. If the duplicate is exact, and we are only physical, with no soul, then: it’s NOT another person who thinks he/she’s me, IT’S ME. If I am my brain, as you say, then wherever my brain is: I am!

    This is what’s being missed here. You, sitting at your computer, wouldn’t know if an exact duplicate of you was built by nanobots on Mars right this second. It could happen right now and you would have no knowledge or inclination that it even occurred. This is the most important part of the discussion. I’m talking to you on Earth. You don’t experience Mars.

    So no, you don’t experience the consciousness of your brain on Mars. If it happened now, you couldn’t tell me about it. You wouldn’t even know a duplicate existed. It’s not you.

    It is a copy of you that has its own consciousness and existence separate from you here on Earth.

    I am enjoying this conversation, but have to run an errand before the store closes. i will look back to see you.
    cheers

    Ditto, this has been a good conversation. I look forward to your response.

  164. Mlemaon 27 Apr 2013 at 10:54 pm

    well, that went really well! I was able to get everything I needed at one store. On the way home I kept thinking: if I’d had to go to two stores it sure would be convenient to be able to split into two selves so we could both be shopping at the same time. I’d get my shopping done faster, and, if one of us got run over by a shopping cart the other one would still go on living. Even better: what if I could split into 3 identical selves? then I could get my shopping done double quick, and still be here having a conversation with you!

    Which of my three selves would be the real me? If I understand your viewpoint correctly, there can only be one real me – so I’d have to choose. But if we all came into existence as three people who are exactly alike and exactly as we’ve always been as one individual – how do I choose which is really ME? Why does it matter which one I choose to continue on as if we were all ME? The only preference would be: which one had the most pleasant or useful experiences while a unique individual. If all three were physically identical, what would tell me which was the real me?

  165. Mlemaon 27 Apr 2013 at 11:02 pm

    ccbowers, this entire discussion is based on imagined possibilities. I don’t think I want to try to address what the added possibility of “a little different” copy would mean, because it really changes the question, the premise of which is: if there could be an exact copy made of you….

    “when writing we have to get them straight to have these discussions… ”

    let’s call them A and 1, that way we don’t need to distinguish them based on when they came into existence. We seem to agree that they are alike in every way – so – why a preference to keep the one that existed first if there is only physical existence, and there’s no difference in physical existence between A and 1 ?

    ^ that’s how I understand the question. i admit, I haven’t studied what your discussion has been with others in prior comments here. If you are contending that Dr. Novella’s take on the question doesn’t represent dualism, then I think you have to show why he would feel that A, for instance, might be him, as opposed to 1 – when they are physically identical, and the physical is all that exists.

  166. Ditheiton 27 Apr 2013 at 11:14 pm

    You are a brain experiencing the world. You have a physical location, a perspective. You’re looking at a computer screen. You have an itch on your leg because of your chair. You can hear the hum of your computer fans.

    YOU are experiencing these things, not them. If your other identical selves knocked on the door right now, you wouldn’t feel their hands touching wood. You wouldn’t experience the sight of your front door. You would hear it from the inside, sitting at your computer. Take a second to picture it right now. See the difference between them and you? They’re knocking on your door and you’re reading my response.

    They have their own perspective, too. They could claim the same “youness,” but it doesn’t matter. You couldn’t tell each other apart, but who cares? I’m not talking to them, I’m talking to you.

  167. Mlemaon 27 Apr 2013 at 11:38 pm

    I believe I understand what you’re trying to communicate. There is only one YOU. I accept that and I see nothing wrong with your assertion. But when you say “you are a brain experiencing the world” why would it be different if my physical brain suddenly disappeared from the US and a physically identical brain to mine suddenly appeared in Paris? with all the same physically encoded memories of all the experiences I’ve had? wouldn’t it still be me? Why would I think that the me in the US was the real me and had died? And that the new brain (exactly like the old brain) was somehow not me? This is the question that Dr. Novella posed. If I’m a brain experiencing the world, then a new exact replica of brain, only now located in Paris, is still me! As long as there are not two resulting brains – I simply moved to Paris! right? does this solve the problem that there must not be two of me?

  168. Ditheiton 27 Apr 2013 at 11:53 pm

    I believe I understand what you’re trying to communicate. There is only one YOU. I accept that and I see nothing wrong with your assertion. But when you say “you are a brain experiencing the world” why would it be different if my physical brain suddenly disappeared from the US and a physically identical brain to mine suddenly appeared in Paris? with all the same physically encoded memories of all the experiences I’ve had? wouldn’t it still be me?

    Perfect, the crux of the issue. Yes, it’s you, just not in the sense that you get to experience what it is experiencing and feeling. Your brain has disappeared and you are now experiencing nothing; oblivion. If your brain disappears, you’re dead.

    Why would I think that the me in the US was the real me and had died?

    For the same reason that if an identical copy of you knocked on your door right now, you wouldn’t see or feel the door. You’re on the computer right now, after all. Not in Paris, Mars or in front of your home.

    And that the new brain (exactly like the old brain) was somehow not me? This is the question that Dr. Novella posed. If I’m a brain experiencing the world, then a new exact replica of brain, only now located in Paris, is still me! As long as there are not two resulting brains – I simply moved to Paris! right? does this solve the problem that there must not be two of me?

    Why would destroying the first brain make you experience Paris? Imagine your scenario without having the original disappear. You’re still here, at your computer.

    There’s no reason why there can’t be many copies of you. There’s still only one perspective that is you in the sense that matters.

  169. ccbowerson 27 Apr 2013 at 11:58 pm

    “how do I choose which is really ME? Why does it matter which one I choose to continue on as if we were all ME? The only preference would be: which one had the most pleasant or useful experiences while a unique individual. If all three were physically identical, what would tell me which was the real me?”

    Each copy would have the perception of “me,” which would be separate from the other, but identical.

    “ccbowers, this entire discussion is based on imagined possibilities. I don’t think I want to try to address what the added possibility of “a little different” copy would mean, because it really changes the question, the premise of which is: if there could be an exact copy made of you….”

    Well, I don’t really have a problem with these thought experiments, but in order to explore how our perspectives are different, this slight tweak may shed some light or not. This was directed more towards BJ7, because I am trying to guage the significance of the copy being identical.

    “why a preference to keep the one that existed first if there is only physical existence, and there’s no difference in physical existence between A and 1 ?”

    I believe the reason why there is a preference has nothing to do with who is “original” (A) or “copy” (1) it has to do with the fact that he is experiencing the consciousness/mental state of “A” and not the mental state of “1.” Even though they are physically identical they are/have separate yet identical mental states, because they arise from separate physical bodies. You seem to talk about them as if they collapse into one mental state, which sounds a bit odd, but maybe I misunderstand. I believe Ditheit is describing the situation as I am thinking about it, at least in the most recent comments.

    Pehaps this is where the impossibilty of identical comes into play, because perhaps the problem is that we are not thinking the same about what it means to be identical.

    Anyways, its off to bed for me.

  170. Mlemaon 28 Apr 2013 at 12:04 am

    yes, I think we are not understanding this in the same way. Identical is identical. If you are saying that a copy is not really a copy because it’s somehow impossible for two brains to be identical – well – that is how I understood the question: that the two brains are identical.

  171. Ditheiton 28 Apr 2013 at 12:06 am

    They are identical. But not in identical places. They therefore don’t have the same perspective, which is important to being the you that you care about.

  172. Mlemaon 28 Apr 2013 at 12:12 am

    Ditheit, if there is something about my brain in the US that simply cannot be replicated by my brain in Paris, what is it? why am I not experiencing or feeling anything in Paris?

    “Your brain has disappeared and you are now experiencing nothing; oblivion. If your brain disappears, you’re dead.”

    But my brain HASN’T disappeared! It’s just relocated to Paris.

    Let’s say there are two identical brains. They are both yours. One existed 5 years ago. Then it stopped existing. Then it came back into existence just now and is you. We could say that the one died 5 years ago. Then we could say that it came back to life just now. They are both yours and you would only have the sense that you had been asleep for 5 years.

    Now shorten this time to a millisecond. Your brain exists here in the US, then, a millisecond later it is in Paris. Why would you believe that you had died and then someone different whom you could not experience as yourself had come into existence in Paris?

  173. Ditheiton 28 Apr 2013 at 12:25 am

    Ditheit, if there is something about my brain in the US that simply cannot be replicated by my brain in Paris, what is it? why am I not experiencing or feeling anything in Paris?

    I don’t think there is anything that hasn’t been replicated. It just isn’t your brain/perspective/consciousness so you don’t feel what that brain is feeling over in Paris. Again, I feel like the best example is with identical copies knocking on your door. You have something from your perspective that they don’t and vice-versa. They are not you because you’re not experiencing what they’re experiencing.

    But my brain HASN’T disappeared! It’s just relocated to Paris.

    Ah, okay. I guess it would be important to know how this has occurred. As long as it is the same physical brain that is experiencing things in the US, it’ll still be you. If your brain is destroyed (the crux of the transporter problem), you have died. Otherwise, we’re golden.

    Let’s say there are two identical brains. They are both yours. One existed 5 years ago. Then it stopped existing. Then it came back into existence just now and is you. We could say that the one died 5 years ago. Then we could say that it came back to life just now. They are both yours and you would only have the sense that you had been asleep for 5 years. Now shorten this time to a millisecond. Your brain exists here in the US, then, a millisecond later it is in Paris. Why would you believe that you had died and then someone different whom you could not experience as yourself had come into existence in Paris?

    I don’t think the duration matters. If it is as you say, that my brain “stopped existing,” that consciousness has ended. It is now dead regardless of another coming into existence. The one that now exists has the sense that it has been asleep for 5 years, but as stated it is just a copy who thinks (and rightly so) that it is me.

    What if I was the brain from 5 years ago but I didn’t disappear?
    What if I was the brain that is in the US and I didn’t disappear? Why would I experience anything that other brain experiences in Paris or in 5 years?

    I hope I didn’t miss what you were getting at with that example.

  174. Mlemaon 28 Apr 2013 at 12:50 am

    we’re getting closer. I seem to understand that the only way you would accept the brain in Paris as you, (your own) is if it’s actually the same physical brain – that is, made of the very same atoms. That is, if instead your physical brain in the US had to disassembled, and then new, different atoms had to be reconfigured in Paris to recreate an exact duplicate – you believe you would be dead and unable to experience Paris as yourself. Is that a correct description of what you believe?

  175. BillyJoe7on 28 Apr 2013 at 2:16 am

    Ditheit and Mlema,

    This might help (or not – because I am going to use materialist language which can sound confusing):

    A dualist believes that a brain is inhabited by a self that takes input from the brain, makes decisions, and directs the brain to carry out these decisions.

    A materialist believes that a brain produces the illusion of being inhabited by a self that takes input from the brain, makes decisions, and directs the brain to carry out these decisions. What this means is that, although there is no such entity as a self (an entity inhabiting the brain, taking input from the brain, making decisions, and directing the brain to carry out these decisions), the brains feels as if there is a self inhabiting it, taking input from it, making decisions, and directing it to carry out these decisions.

    So on to the teleporter…

    The self that seems to be inhabiting the duplicate brain is identical to the self that seems to be inhabiting the original brain and therefore it feels as if it is the same self. Yes, there are two illusions of self, one produced by the original brain and one produced by the duplicate brain. But both feel like the same self. This is why, if the original brain is copied, vapourised, and duplicated, the self that seems to inhabit the duplicate brain feels like the same self that seemed to inhabit the original brain. This is why the duplicate feels exactly and equally like the original. This is why it feels as if nothing has happened. This is why it doesn’t matter whether the machine worked or it failed to work – nothing would feel any different.

    And it is no different when the original is retained on Earth and a duplicate is created on Mars. Before the eyes open, the self that seems to be occupying the duplicate brain feels exactly and equally the same as the self that seems to be occupying the original brain. Once the eyes open, of course, everything changes. They have different experiences and the selves that seem to inhabit their brains gradually change in different ways in response to these different experiences.

    You could say that the original and the duplicate have equal claims on that self.
    But now we’re slipping into dualist language…

  176. BillyJoe7on 28 Apr 2013 at 3:22 am

    ccbowers,

    “So I’m still unclear about whether it matters to “you,” and by you I mean the person I am currently interacting with. I am trying to inquire about a senario in which the scanning of you resulted in a slightly altered copy (altered in a neutral way), and the current you is then vaporized. How do you view this relative to the copy being precisely identical (and the original vaporized)? Is it more/less/equally preferable?”

    Here is a translation:
    (With a minor correction to the past tense for the deceased body called “BillyJoe”)
    (You can skip this bit if you wish)

    [The self that seems to inhabit the brain labelled "ccbowers"] is still unclear about whether it matters to [the self that seems to inhabit the brain labelled "BillyJoe"] – and by that [the self that seems to inhabit the brain labelled "ccbowers"] means [the self that seems to inhabit the brain labelled "BillyJoe"] that [the self that seems to inhabit the brain labelled "ccbowers"] has created a pretty good illusion of interacting with. The [self that seems to inhabit the brain labelled "ccbowers"] is trying to enquire about the scenario in which the scanning of [the brain labelled "BillyJoe" along with the self that seems to inhabit it] resulted in a slightly different copy and [the brain labelled "BillyJoe" along with the self that seems to inhabit it] is then vapourised. How did [the self that seemed to inhabit the brain labelled "BillyJoe" now deceased] view this relative to the copy being precisely identical. Was it more/less/equally preferable to [the self that seemed to inhabit the brain labelled "BillyJoe" (now deceased)].

    So you see the difficulty of using dualist language to explain a materialist point of view!

    Anyway…

    How could it have mattered to [the self that seemed to inhabit the brain labelled "BillyJoe" (now deceased)] that [the identical self that seems to inhabit the brain labelled "slightly different BillyJoe" (newly created)] is slightly different from [the self that seemed to inhabit the brain labelled "BillyJoe" (now deceased)]. [The self that seems to inhabit "slightly different BillyJoe" (newly created)] will feel almost exactly like [the self that seemed to inhabit the brain labelled "BillyJoe" (now deceased)] – a bit like [the self that seemed to inhabit the brain of BillyJoe (now deceased)] but with perhaps an added or altered memory or perhaps a slight distortion in perception or perhaps as if [the brain of BillyJoe (now deceased)] just nodded off for a moment. Speaking of which…

  177. Ditheiton 28 Apr 2013 at 3:45 am

    That is, if instead your physical brain in the US had to disassembled, and then new, different atoms had to be reconfigured in Paris to recreate an exact duplicate – you believe you would be dead and unable to experience Paris as yourself. Is that a correct description of what you believe?

    Yes, you die when your brain is disassembled. It doesn’t matter if it is rebuilt with the same atoms. When your brain is destroyed, you are dead. You could make a copy with the same atoms but it would make no difference if your brain had to be obliterated first.

    BillyJoe7-
    It is not dualist to recognize that an identical copy of you isn’t you. They could be somewhere else right now and you wouldn’t have the slightest inclination. You’d still be here, reading my message. That’s the you I’m referring to.

    What this means is that, although there is no such entity as a self (an entity inhabiting the brain, taking input from the brain, making decisions, and directing the brain to carry out these decisions), the brains feels as if there is a self inhabiting it, taking input from it, making decisions, and directing it to carry out these decisions.

    I think we all agree there is no homunculus watching the Cartesian theater. If anything I have written implies that such a homunculus exists, I would be interested in it being pointed out.

    This is why it feels as if nothing has happened. This is why it doesn’t matter whether the machine worked or it failed to work – nothing would feel any different.

    You’ve acknowledged that there are two individuals. One is you- the individual that experiences everything that you experience. This is the you that is experiencing this discussion, a distinct consciousness from the copy up in the Enterprise. The you that is reading this message should care whether or not you will be killed. The copy will think the transportation was a complete success but you will be dead.

    And it is no different when the original is retained on Earth and a duplicate is created on Mars. Before the eyes open, the self that seems to be occupying the duplicate brain feels exactly and equally the same as the self that seems to be occupying the original brain. Once the eyes open, of course, everything changes. They have different experiences and the selves that seem to inhabit their brains gradually change in different ways in response to these different experiences.

    If I gave you the option of being vaporized or the Mars “you” being vaporized, which would you prefer?

    If you don’t see why you should care, imagine a copy of you was made on Mars right now. You (on Earth) wouldn’t feel any different. You couldn’t even confirm that this had actually happened. It could have happened ten minutes ago for all you know. Do you seriously not care which one gets vaporized?

    You could say that the original and the duplicate have equal claims on that self.

    Sure they do. But I’m not talking to the Mars copy right now, I’m talking to you. You are not them in the sense that you don’t experience what they experience. Why would you care if they live on after you are deceased?

  178. Mlemaon 28 Apr 2013 at 4:49 am

    if you believe that you die when your brain is disassembled in the US, and you also believe that it is not you that lives when your brain is reassembled in Paris, then it seems to me you believe that there is something special about your US brain that cannot be duplicated. What is it that is special about your brain made up of US atoms that causes you to be you and cannot be created as you (your brain) with Paris atoms? why is your brain you in the US, but your brain is not you in Paris? Why does it matter that it’s made up of different atoms?

    What makes your brain your brain? Isn’t it the particular and unique arrangement of atoms that comprises its physical existence? If this same particular and unique arrangement of atoms that comprises its physical existence exists suddenly in France instead of the US, why did you die and lose the ability to experience existence as your brain in France? Why does your brain now belong to someone else whose existence you can’t experience? Why is that person not you if they have your brain?

    I think the big question for materialists who answer these questions as you do is: if you cease to exist when your brain is disassembled, even though your brain is reassembled exactly the same way a moment later, then: what were you? You say you are your brain. Then why is this second brain not you? It’s exactly the same! I can’t help but continue to interpret your belief as supporting something “attached” to your physical brain that simply can’t continue to exist if those particular atoms don’t stick together. Something that can’t follow the blueprint that flies with the speed of light over the ocean to then experience life through an exact copy of your brain overseas.

  179. Ditheiton 28 Apr 2013 at 5:37 am

    It isn’t that your brain is special, it’s just that it’s yours.

    To help you understand this, imagine I made a perfect copy of you on Mars. You would continue reading my message as if nothing happened. You wouldn’t suddenly become aware of your surroundings on Mars. A separate consciousness, not linked to you in any way, would open their eyes on Mars. Can’t you see that nothing changes from your perspective, sitting there reading this message?

    If nothing changes from your perspective, do you see why your brain and its physical continuity is important to you? Sure, the copy on Mars thinks he’s you. But who cares? If you die, you’re dead.

    Then why is this second brain not you? It’s exactly the same!

    To everyone else it is you. But don’t you see that you’re on Earth, not Mars?

  180. BillyJoe7on 28 Apr 2013 at 8:39 am

    Ditheit,

    “To help you understand this…”

    Unfortunately, Ditheit, there is nothing that Mlema needs to learn from you. He has an understanding about this subject that you have not even come close to approaching. There is clearly something here that you do not understand and you are letting your hubris get in the way.

    “It isn’t that your brain is special, it’s just that it’s yours”

    You don’t have a brain. You don’t even exist. You are an illusion created by a brain – the one that sits inside the cranium of the body labelled “Ditheit”.
    That’s materialism.
    Think about that for a while before reposting.

    “I think we all agree there is no homunculus watching the Cartesian theater”

    And, yet, here you are sneaking a homunculus in there anyway.
    Not only that, but it is the sum total of your argument.
    Please, you need to recognise that.

    (Ditheit, please note that I am back to using dualist language here, because it seems materialist language is too difficult for you to follow, so please don’t use this against me, especially as I’m trying to do you a favour)

  181. ccbowerson 28 Apr 2013 at 9:22 am

    “So you see the difficulty of using dualist language to explain a materialist point of view!”

    I think you are using a broader definition of dualism than I think is commonly used, but yes. And this dualist language you are referring to is true of all languages that I know of, and the laguage we both speak, but I know you know this. There is nothing wrong with using the symbolic language we both have a good mastery of, unless of course more specificity is needed.

    BillyJoe7-

    I would like to discuss your use of dualism and your contrasting it with materialism. I believe you are thinking very black and white about this topic, and perhaps are misusing terms so your broad use of dualism as mutually exclusive of materialism, but that’s not quite true. (and nothing I have written here contradicts a materialist perpective, with the exception of the limitation of using language to discuss these things)

    The way dualism is used in the philosophy of mind is usually broken up into 2 broad groups ‘substance dualism’ and ‘property dualism.’ Clearly, no here is is talking about substance dualism, as that is the idea the the mind and body are made up of 2 different kinds of substances. Now property dualism is a bit tricky to discuss, but there are many flavors, and at least some of them are completely compatible with materialism. Since the use of the term property dualism is pretty broad, and it breaks further into other subcategories I will refrain from dragging this conversation too far into philosophy of mind, because I think you have an incomplete understanding of topic (as do I, and everyone not knee-deep in the stuff).

    I will not attempt to characterize my own perspective on this using terminology, but I believe you are really proposing a type of “eliminative materialism,” and are concluding that anything that is not compatible with this eliminative materialism is dualism. I think this perspective is flawed, because it categorizes so many disparate perspectives into the category of dualism. This is already a problem as the dualism term is commonly used, and you seem to be throwing more things into that category. You also seem certain about your position in a way that is unwarranted, but that I think that is par for the course.

  182. Ditheiton 28 Apr 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Neither of you have answered what changes from your perspective when a perfect copy of you is made on Mars. It is not hubris or dualism. Don’t you see it could literally happen right now and you wouldn’t know?

  183. sonicon 28 Apr 2013 at 1:08 pm

    BillyJoe7-
    “You don’t have a brain. You don’t even exist. You are an illusion created by a brain – the one that sits inside the cranium of the body labelled “Ditheit”.”

    Does Ditheit exist or not?

    Does BillyJoe7 exist? (For the sake of discussion I will assume the answer is ‘yes’).

    Dr.N. seems to think he does exist and he is a physical body. It appears he thinks that if you were to end the existence of that physical object, then you would end his existence– at least that’s what I get from what he is saying–
    End the physical existence of this body and that will be the end of me- as that is what I am. (I hope I got that right).

    You seem to be arguing that you are in fact some non-physical ‘illusion’ that could be transfered from one body to another– a ‘ghost in the machine’ if you will. At least that what it sounds like– we destroy the body that we call ‘BillyJoe7′, but it doesn’t matter to the ‘consciousness’ of BillyJoe7– he has arrived at a new body.
    Would it matter to ‘you’ if the new BJ7 didn’t show up for a thousand years or so? (I mention this because some religious people were telling me that at some point in the future my body would be recreated here on earth and I will live again. Sounds to me like you find this more plausible than I do).

    Perhaps I’m missing something here— :-)

    Ditheit-
    I am the one at the computer screen on Earth. :-)
    Thank-you for making the point clearly…

    Mlema-
    My brain state just duplicated yours exactly (has to happen somewhere in the multiverse- right?)
    And now you know what it is to be me– or wait, maybe I know what it is to be you… no, I am you and you are me… no… “I am he as you are me and we are all together” I am the Walrus! ;-)

    Sorry if this causes nightmares :-)

  184. Mlemaon 28 Apr 2013 at 2:17 pm

    I would love to know what it is that can cause humans, who are so much alike in many more ways than they are unalike, to have such disparate understanding of this question. I’m tending to think that it’s simply experience, which is so varied between one human and the next that it might as well be that I am indeed on Mars, and maybe less than half of us are actually living here on earth :)

  185. Ditheiton 28 Apr 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Mlema, do you see what I’m saying in my previous post?

  186. Mlemaon 28 Apr 2013 at 2:26 pm

    Dr. N,
    This discussion has been enjoyable to read and participate in.

    I have a little bit different scenario that I’m hoping might illuminate our beliefs about the nature of our own physical existence a little further:

    Every six months throughout your life we make an exact copy of you, in the most complete and exquisitely detailed way – beyond what will probably ever be really physically possible. It is physically and physiologically identical to your self at that time.

    Then, two months after your last copy, you die in an accident.

    Do you want the last copy to be booted up?

    Is it you?

    PS, I will now say in a loud voice (suspicious fool that I tend to be) MY PROFOUND WISH IS THAT YOU LIVE A LONG LIFE IN PERFECT AND JOYOUS HEALTH. :)

  187. Ditheiton 28 Apr 2013 at 2:31 pm

    No, it isn’t you. To understand why, imagine you didn’t die and booted up a copy anyway. You’d be able to look at the copy and shake hands with them.

  188. Mlemaon 28 Apr 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Ditheit, I do believe I understand what you’re saying, BUT, i think this example of an unknown copy appearing on Mars is preventing us from reaching a point where we can say we are both agreeing on the situation. Here’s why: I believe that if a person who is exactly like my self is on Mars, but they have no experience of me here on earth just as I have no experience of them on Mars, that is equivalent to two different people. So of course if “I” die here, then I concur that my earth “me” is dead.

    BUT: what if I, me, here on earth, is simply disassembled by some extremely advanced mechanism of which we can have no real imagining now, and beamed with some light carrier to Jupiter – then reassembled. Did I die, or is it me, here on Jupiter?

  189. Mlemaon 28 Apr 2013 at 2:33 pm

    OK, if the rebooted copy isn’t me, who is it?

  190. Mlemaon 28 Apr 2013 at 2:36 pm

    we have to decide: are we talking about two identical individuals? because then i can see why you would say that only one can be you. But if we are talking about two identical individuals who exist at two different times, then, which one is you?

  191. Ditheiton 28 Apr 2013 at 2:54 pm

    So of course if “I” die here, then I concur that my earth “me” is dead.

    Alright, so we’re on the exact same page here now.

    BUT: what if I, me, here on earth, is simply disassembled by some extremely advanced mechanism of which we can have no real imagining now, and beamed with some light carrier to Jupiter – then reassembled. Did I die, or is it me, here on Jupiter?

    Being disassembled = your death. Again, you simply have to posit that you are not disassembled here on Earth and it becomes clear that you’re stuck here regardless of where a copy of you is made.

    OK, if the rebooted copy isn’t me, who is it?

    An individual that is indistinguishable from you in every way but doesn’t have your perspective (on Earth).

    we have to decide: are we talking about two identical individuals? because then i can see why you would say that only one can be you. But if we are talking about two identical individuals who exist at two different times, then, which one is you?

    Simple. You’re the one that’s reading this message here on Earth.

  192. Mlemaon 28 Apr 2013 at 3:00 pm

    What if the me reading this message is a rebooted copy of myself as I was copied six months ago – because – my body experienced a fatal error two months ago?

  193. Ditheiton 28 Apr 2013 at 3:07 pm

    Then the original you has passed away. If they had simply faked their death, they could knock on your door right now and you could have a beer together.

  194. Mlemaon 28 Apr 2013 at 3:17 pm

    then who is reading your posts? Is it me? who am I?

    you are making a valid take on this, but, it is not the take of the materialist. A materialist believes that his sense of “me” or self is the result of a particular arrangement of physical material. Therefore, any time this exact same particular arrangement of physical material exists: there you are!

    you are maintaining that one instance of the particular physical arrangement of material is : you
    but another instance of that same arrangement is : not you

    and you are basing the difference on a timeline.

    what if time started rolling backwards and all of a sudden you are the you of yesterday. Right now= you are the you of yesterday.

    Are you not really you now…because you’ve already been someone else in the future?

  195. Ditheiton 28 Apr 2013 at 3:26 pm

    then who is reading your posts? Is it me? who am I?
    you are making a valid take on this, but, it is not the take of the materialist. A materialist believes that his sense of “me” or self is the result of a particular arrangement of physical material. Therefore, any time this exact same particular arrangement of physical material exists: there you are!

    Who are you? You’re the person reading this message. An exact replica on Mars isn’t the “me” reading this message.

    False, this is entirely consistent with materialism. You said it best here:

    Here’s why: I believe that if a person who is exactly like my self is on Mars, but they have no experience of me here on earth just as I have no experience of them on Mars, that is equivalent to two different people. So of course if “I” die here, then I concur that my earth “me” is dead.

    you are maintaining that one instance of the particular physical arrangement of material is : you
    but another instance of that same arrangement is : not you

    Because it is obviously true! You’re reading this message, not frolicking on Mars like your identical copy! You’re identical. They think they are you, and rightly so. But they’re not reading this message.

    Are you not really you now…because you’ve already been someone else in the future?

    Nope, I’m me because I’m physically continuous with my brain.

  196. Ditheiton 28 Apr 2013 at 3:31 pm

    Here’s why: I believe that if a person who is exactly like my self is on Mars, but they have no experience of me here on earth just as I have no experience of them on Mars, that is equivalent to two different people. So of course if “I” die here, then I concur that my earth “me” is dead.

    Would you, based on this, be willing to concede it isn’t a good idea to get vaporized if there is a copy of you on Mars?

  197. Mlemaon 28 Apr 2013 at 3:34 pm

    is it a good idea for the me on Mars to be vaporized?

  198. Mlemaon 28 Apr 2013 at 3:35 pm

    it seems to me it’s never a good idea to get vaporized, but that has nothing to do with materialism

  199. Ditheiton 28 Apr 2013 at 3:35 pm

    is it a good idea for the me on Mars to be vaporized?

    No skin off your back. But to the extent that it is an individual and we care what happens to others, we wouldn’t want them to die either.

  200. Mlemaon 28 Apr 2013 at 3:39 pm

    we’ve moved away from consensus. You insist that you are your brain, but when I say: I have two of your brains. They’re both exactly the same. One of them has got to go. Which one do you want to continue to live with. For you it’s important which one existed first. Why? they are EXACTLY the same. If all you are is your physical brain, and I have the ability to offer you one of two that are exactly the same, why does it matter if one existed first? What if I split your current brain in two and built two brains out of that one – which one is you?

  201. Mlemaon 28 Apr 2013 at 3:39 pm

    who is the individual on Mars that gets vaporized?

  202. Ditheiton 28 Apr 2013 at 3:45 pm

    Which one do you want to continue to live with. For you it’s important which one existed first. Why? they are EXACTLY the same.

    The other brain should be destroyed. Not mine. There are two individuals. I am one of them. I’m either the one on Earth or Mars. Since I’m the one sitting here on Earth, I say destroy the other one.

    You know how I know I’m the one on Earth? It isn’t confusing. It’s because I’m the one here experiencing Earth.

    If all you are is your physical brain, and I have the ability to offer you one of two that are exactly the same, why does it matter if one existed first?

    …because I’m not experiencing what the copy is experiencing. I’m the one here typing the message. If a man points a vaporizer gun at my head, am I going to say, “Oh, I don’t care. There’s an identical copy of me over there. Go ahead and fire away, sir.”

    Of course the other me will say the same thing. I don’t care, the gun is pointed as his head, not mine. We are two individuals.

    What if I split your current brain in two and built two brains out of that one – which one is you?

    Not sure if we should move on to this until we both agree that we wouldn’t want to be the individual that gets vaporized.

  203. Ditheiton 28 Apr 2013 at 3:49 pm

    who is the individual on Mars that gets vaporized?

    It’s an identical copy of you on Mars. They’ll see things how you see things. No one could tell the difference between you two, not even them. It’s just that it isn’t you. You’re still here on Earth, reading this message.

  204. Mlemaon 28 Apr 2013 at 3:50 pm

    ok, neither of us wants to get vaporized. And neither does the guy on Mars. Forget Mars. That’s confusing the issue. Let’s stay on Earth.

    I have two exact brains. Exactly physically alike in every respect: which is the only thing that matters to a materialist. Which one do you want? you need to have one to keep living. which one do you want?

  205. Ditheiton 28 Apr 2013 at 3:52 pm

    Which one do you want? you need to have one to keep living. which one do you want?

    I am my brain. I’d either be one brain or the other. Two brains, two individuals.

    I’d want the brain that I am to be the one that lives.

  206. Ditheiton 28 Apr 2013 at 3:52 pm

    Let me put it this way:

    Either brain could be typing this message. We’re both going to say the same thing: I want to be the brain that lives!

  207. Mlemaon 28 Apr 2013 at 4:01 pm

    yes, that’s true. very much. But, I had your brain on a table and it began to gently vibrate. Then it appeared blurry to me. Slowly, I realized that every cell in your brain was splitting in two and separating into two equal cells = alike in every way, and then the two brains were moving apart from each other. You literally now have two brains on my table. Which one do you want me to put back in your body? I’ll then let you decide what to do with the other brain.

  208. Ditheiton 28 Apr 2013 at 4:04 pm

    yes, that’s true. very much. But, I had your brain on a table and it began to gently vibrate. Then it appeared blurry to me. Slowly, I realized that every cell in your brain was splitting in two and separating into two equal cells = alike in every way, and then the two brains were moving apart from each other. You literally now have two brains on my table. Which one do you want me to put back in your body? I’ll then let you decide what to do with the other brain.

    Since you’re addressing me, I’d like the brain you’re talking to put in my body. I don’t care what happens to that other abomination. Note: it doesn’t matter which one you ask, they’re going to say the same thing. They’re both identical.

  209. Mlemaon 28 Apr 2013 at 4:10 pm

    you’re letting me pick which brain to put back in your body?

  210. Mlemaon 28 Apr 2013 at 4:12 pm

    not that it should matter, they’re both you and exactly alike. The “you” I’m talking to is not a part of the question because I took your brain out tomorrow, so the the brain on the table was the same one in your body right now.

  211. Ditheiton 28 Apr 2013 at 4:12 pm

    you’re letting me pick which brain to put back in your body?

    There are two individuals there. You asked: “which one do you want me to put back in your body.”

    You have to ask this to either one brain or the other, right? Whichever you ask is going to request that it is them that is put in the body.

  212. Ditheiton 28 Apr 2013 at 4:18 pm

    not that it should matter, they’re both you and exactly alike. The “you” I’m talking to is not a part of the question because I took your brain out tomorrow, so the the brain on the table was the same one in your body right now.

    …I can’t say for certain that I would survive this process, even. The result might very well be two individuals, neither of which are “me” in the sense that you’re talking to “me.”

    This example doesn’t at all clarify the situation, it just makes it fuzzier. Scanning and copying brains makes it abundantly clear that “you” aren’t the copy in the sense that “you” are reading this message and they wouldn’t be.

  213. Mlemaon 28 Apr 2013 at 4:29 pm

    we’re getting to the real philosophical question though.

    I’m asking you right now:

    Tomorrow your brain will be on my table. It will become two identical brains through some as yet unknown process. Both brains will be exactly yours. There will be no physical damage to either one.
    How do you want me to choose which brain to put back in your body?

  214. Mlemaon 28 Apr 2013 at 4:30 pm

    PS – don’t worry about whether you would actually die at some point, we have the future’s medicine: your brain will be on the table and your body will be on another table: you are asleep and very much alive at all times

  215. Mlemaon 28 Apr 2013 at 4:31 pm

    gotta go to work – talk to you later!

  216. Ditheiton 28 Apr 2013 at 4:33 pm

    Tomorrow your brain will be on my table. It will become two identical brains through some as yet unknown process. Both brains will be exactly yours. There will be no physical damage to either one.
    How do you want me to choose which brain to put back in your body?

    Okay. But I’d like to reiterate in the transporter example, it is clear which is going to be you and which will be an identical copy.

    They’re both going to be exactly like mine, but I cannot be two brains. You have created two individuals that we cannot tell apart. I have no way to relate to you which is me (if I survive the process at all) unless I know the process that creates extra brain.

  217. BillyJoe7on 28 Apr 2013 at 4:56 pm

    ccbowers,

    As you say, neither of us is knee deep into philosophy. However, my observation over the years of discussing this topic is that property dualism is for the materialist who wants to have his cake and eat it too. It’s for the materialist who can’t accept the conclusions that materialism demands. The most prominent conclusions being that there is no self and no freewill.

    Essentially what these materialists do is redefine the words that are causing them difficulty. So dualism becomes “property dualism” which is nothing like what is meant by the word dualism; and freewill becomes “varieties of freewill worth wanting”, which is neither free nor willed.

  218. BillyJoe7on 28 Apr 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Mlema,

    I admire your persistence. I also understand it. You keep thinking your opponent is on the verge of understanding. So you keep on going hoping you will be able to help him over the top of the hill. Only to see him slip back down again. It is frustrating.

  219. Ditheiton 28 Apr 2013 at 5:07 pm

    I admire your persistence. I also understand it. You keep thinking your opponent is on the verge of understanding. So you keep on going hoping you will be able to help him over the top of the hill. Only to see him slip back down again. It is frustrating.

    You might be able to help me out, BillyJoe7. What happens from your perspective if an identical copy of you is made on Mars? Do you know about it? Could you relate what it is like to experience Mars from your PC on Earth?

  220. BillyJoe7on 28 Apr 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Ditheit,

    Suppose you are one of two identical twins.
    At the point of cleavage, your were identical to each other and to the preceding zygote.
    Which one of you has a more legitimate claim to be the original?

    Remember this is just an analogy to help you understand what Mlema is trying to say.
    (In other words, please don’t dissect the analogy)

  221. Ditheiton 28 Apr 2013 at 5:28 pm

    Which one of you has a more legitimate claim to be the original?

    Neither has a more legitimate claim. They are identical. I fully understand this.

    If I happen to be one of them, however, I care which lives or dies if one had to hypothetically die. Namely, the individual that is typing this message is “me” and the other isn’t.

  222. BillyJoe7on 28 Apr 2013 at 5:34 pm

    Ditheit,

    “BillyJoe7. What happens from your perspective if an identical copy of you is made on Mars? Do you know about it? Could you relate what it is like to experience Mars from your PC on Earth?”

    The point is that what you are saying about me-on-earth applies equally and exactly to me-on-mars.
    The me-on-mars has as much claim to being me as me-on-earth.
    The me-on-earth has as much claim to being me as me-on-mars.
    Because, at the point of duplication, me-on-earth = me = me-on-mars

  223. Ditheiton 28 Apr 2013 at 5:37 pm

    Yes, they do have equal claims to being you. But I’m not talking to a hypothetical you. I’m talking to the you on Earth. You are distinct individuals.

    I acknowledge that both are you in the sense that we could not distinguish them. You sure can, though, in the sense that you’re experiencing Earth and your copy is experiencing Mars.

  224. BillyJoe7on 28 Apr 2013 at 5:56 pm

    Ditheit,

    “I’m talking to the you on Earth”

    But why? Why don’t you talk to the me-on-mars? After all, as you have agreed, he has an equal claim to be me. And if the me-on-earth died in the duplication, the me-on-mars would be the only me that there is. Doesn’t he deserve equal consideration?

  225. cogniteon 28 Apr 2013 at 5:57 pm

    The pro teleportation commenters seem to hold the view (attributed to some kind of materialsm) that;
    1. consciousness can not transfer from moment to moment
    and possibly;
    2. consciousness is an illusion/epiphenomenon
    therefore it will not matter how you are realized. (But on the other hand; why would it matter if you are realized?)

    1.
    From time t to time t+1 something will change in the world; the arrangement of elementary particles in your body change or your mental state transitions from state 1 to state 2. These changes (I have no idea which particular changes means a discontinuity of consciousness/you but perhaps some one else do?) means that you at t+1 are not the same as you at t. So at each consecutive t there will be someone new continuing your existens. This is why proponents of teleportation do not hesitate to vaporize themselves when simultaneously copied.
    The trick seems to be to not continuing existens as two individuals after the copying as that would allow two different existencies to continue on their own path. At the moment of copying/vaporization the copy realizes you in every way possible, in this viewpoint, and therefore your existence continues. If the original is kept alive this means the two are no longer the same from that moment although both are you but two individual yous.

    This means the proposed black box breaks down; what happens inside can be highly meaningful to a version of you if kept alive. Also it seems weird to state that what happens in some secluded part of reality is irrelevant. If so we could declare suffering in Africa /Island/some other place irrelevant because we are not directly afflicted and will be building a wall around it anyways.
    It is certainly surprising that proponents of this view cares about teleporting (since for one thing “care” ought to be a dualist term) or the continuing popping in to existence of the countless future you´s/them´s.

    So from a certain materialist point of view this might be a logical conclusion. This is though, by no means, something of which to be so certain of as to make the claims of some commenters here.

    2.
    Aspects of mind do show properties of illusion, we experience a coherent world where there is not one. To say that consciousness is nothing but illusion is an overstatement that has no grounding in science.
    It is also mistaken in another way; to have an illusion of consciousness you have to have subjectivity. Rather you would have to conclude that the world is the illusion in that case:
    Something is having an illusion of your consciousness. If a material entity without consciousness has the illusion it is not aware of it and so there is no illusion. Or a subjectivity has the illusion of you and the world around you. Choose Berkeley or Descartes. Points go to Descartes (not the dualism thing, the cogito thing). Also we should feel sorry for those who identify with philosophical zombies.

  226. Ditheiton 28 Apr 2013 at 6:00 pm

    But why? Why don’t you talk to the me-on-mars? After all, as you have agreed, he has an equal claim to be me. And if the me-on-earth died in the duplication, the me-on-mars would be the only me that there is. Doesn’t he deserve equal consideration?

    I could talk to the Mars you, but then I’d have to do it on an 8 minute delay. It just so happens I’m talking to you. Sure, I fully consider him you. But from your perspective, he’s not you. You (again, the one I’m talking to) would be dead in the sense that you are no longer experiencing anything.

  227. BillyJoe7on 28 Apr 2013 at 6:12 pm

    Sonic,

    “You seem to be arguing that you are in fact some non-physical ‘illusion’ that could be transfered from one body to another– a ‘ghost in the machine’ if you will. At least that what it sounds like– we destroy the body that we call ‘BillyJoe7′, but it doesn’t matter to the ‘consciousness’ of BillyJoe7– he has arrived at a new body.”

    I have already answered this question. I assume you missed it. Briefly…

    First error:
    Nothing gets transferred. An exact copy is created. This exact copy has an exact copy of the brain and an exact copy of its mental state.

    Second error:
    An illusion is not non-physical. Have a look at the checkerboard illusion. The squares marked A and B seem to be the same colour. You can prove that they are not. But how can you conclude from this the the squares seeming to be the same colour is non-physical. In fact it is a product of the slightly flawed functioning of a physical brain. Therefore it is physical. At least for materialism, and that is what we are discussing here.

    “Would it matter to ‘you’ if the new BJ7 didn’t show up for a thousand years or so?”

    For a start, all my family and friends would be dead.

  228. BillyJoe7on 28 Apr 2013 at 6:24 pm

    Ditheit,

    In a sense you are dying all the time and being replaced by a new you. You are not the same as you were ten seconds ago, certainly a lot different than you were ten years ago, and a whole lot different that you were as a zygote.

    Would you at the very least agree that, if you had a terminal cancer, you would agree to be vapourised and duplicated without the cancer. I mean, it could be that your terminal cancer was detected without you knowing about it and last night while you were asleep they vapourised and duplicated you without the cancer and you would be feeling no different than you are feeling now.

    Please tell me you would accept the vapourisation and duplication in those circumstances.

  229. Ditheiton 28 Apr 2013 at 6:47 pm

    In a sense you are dying all the time and being replaced by a new you. You are not the same as you were ten seconds ago, certainly a lot different than you were ten years ago, and a whole lot different that you were as a zygote.

    Granted, but it is still a durable, physically continuous brain that I call “me”. The physical continuity is vital to staying alive.

    Would you at the very least agree that, if you had a terminal cancer, you would agree to be vapourised and duplicated without the cancer.

    Please tell me you would accept the vapourisation and duplication in those circumstances.

    If my goal was to live as long as possible, I would not accept vaporization and duplication under these circumstances because it would mean my death. If you disagree that the “me” that is typing this message would be dead, please imagine that the original isn’t vaporized. There isn’t something special about destroying one that makes you “live on” in a fresh, cancer-free body. It is still an indistinguishable copy that lives on right where you left off after your death. No one can tell the difference, not even the copy. But you’re still dead.

    I mean, it could be that your terminal cancer was detected without you knowing about it and last night while you were asleep they vapourised and duplicated you without the cancer and you would be feeling no different than you are feeling now.

    Okay, here’s where there’s some trouble. Yes, *I* could be the copy right now. I wouldn’t have any way of knowing. But the original me is still dead, just like the Earth “you” would be dead and not experiencing what the Mars “you” is experiencing!

  230. ccbowerson 28 Apr 2013 at 9:27 pm

    “Would you at the very least agree that, if you had a terminal cancer, you would agree to be vapourised and duplicated without the cancer.”

    This is actually a nice thought from my perspective, but it is largely for the sake of others around me, but I would still view it as dying and replaced by a new copy of a previous version of myself. But I would definitely do that, but to me it is a decision to die early (and not going through the terminal cancer part) so that my family, who relies on me, could have a “me” around.

    “However, my observation over the years of discussing this topic is that property dualism is for the materialist who wants to have his cake and eat it too. It’s for the materialist who can’t accept the conclusions that materialism demands. The most prominent conclusions being that there is no self and no freewill.
    Essentially what these materialists do is redefine the words that are causing them difficulty”

    I will agree that you have tapped into one of the sources of the disagreements here, but I disagree with your characterization of what logically follows from materialism or what it demands. I think these various perspectives in philosophy are legitimate attempts at understanding, and not a matter of mental gymnastics for “having his cake and eating it too.” Well, I’m sure that there is ocassionally some of that, but for the most part there is genuine intellectual honesty and debate about these types of questions.

    You seem to think the answer is obvious and settled, and that answer is what you subscribe to. Yeah, and so does everyone else. Lets practice some more intellectual humility, since it is far too easy to think you have figured it all out, when in actuality you have fooled yourself into thinking that you have.

  231. sonicon 29 Apr 2013 at 12:20 am

    BillyJoe7-
    Then you would agree that the ‘illusion’ has a location in space?
    Or are you one of those ‘not non-physical’ things that doesn’t exist in a location in space?

    If you have a location in space, then where is it?

    Are ‘you’ the object that appears in the mirror?

    ccbowers-
    Beware of those telling you the only way to understand reality is through a series of fantasies that include numerous physical impossibilities.
    Just saying… :-)

  232. sonicon 29 Apr 2013 at 1:41 am

    BillyJoe7-
    I’m sorry- I understand what you are saying– what is the same is the same- there is nothing special about ‘you’ or ‘consciousness’… what is the same is the same. :-)

    The problem is that you either exist in a location in space or you don’t.
    If you exist in a location in space, then where is that?

    One very clear meaning of what it is to be me– “that which is occupying this location in space.”
    It doesn’t matter if the other has the same or different ‘brain state’ or whatever- I am ‘here’ and it is ‘there’.

    It is purely a matter of location in space. “I am here and it is there” is what it means to have a ‘subjective’ reality.

    Now it is possible that you don’t have a location in space– and I would not find fault either way– if you have a location in space or not– it’s OK with me.

    Do you have a location in space?

    That seems an odd question, but it seems you are suggesting that you could have numerous locations and that you could inhabit a variety of physical substrates– perhaps simultaneously.

    The one thing I know about me– I am here. Definitional.

  233. Mlemaon 29 Apr 2013 at 5:01 am

    sonic, you never know…. ;)

  234. Mlemaon 29 Apr 2013 at 5:05 am

    Ditheit,

    I was having so much fun playing “what if” with you. But it looks like real life will prevent me from more.
    So let me try to say what I think (finally, right?) We do have to all get our heads around this if we’re ever going to be successful teleporters :)

    I see a contradiction between these two viewpoints:

    1) I am physical only. I am a unique arrangement of physical particles. The unique arrangement encodes “me”. All my memories, experiences, beliefs, emotions, etc. – exist as matter.

    2) If you separated all the particles of me from each other, and then put them all back together in exactly the same way, I would no longer exist. Others might think I did, but instead: I died, and what appears to be me is no longer really me.

    If I’m simply a physical arrangement of particles, why do new and identically arranged particles not constitute me?

    The idea of a “copy” confounds the issue because none of us can really imagine what it’s like to be two people. I like better the example of going to sleep, having all my atoms replaced overnight, and waking up the next day none the wiser. Interestingly, the materialist who says he doesn’t mind having his atoms replaced as long as they are perfectly arranged as “him”, has a lot in common with someone who believes in a spirit that could potentially move out of the first bunch of atoms and move into the second identical bunch of atoms.

    What do I personally believe? Not sure anymore.

    I just love pointing out contradictions. :)

    PS – I took good care of you while your brain was separated from your body. And I managed to put the two brains back as one brain. You are perfectly well and every bit yourself.

  235. BillyJoe7on 29 Apr 2013 at 8:16 am

    BJ: “I mean, it could be that your terminal cancer was detected without you knowing about it and last night while you were asleep they vapourised and duplicated you without the cancer and you would be feeling no different than you are feeling now”

    Ditheit: “Okay, here’s where there’s some trouble. Yes, *I* could be the copy right now. I wouldn’t have any way of knowing. But the original me is still dead”

    Yes, of course.
    The point is that it doesn’t matter.
    Can’t you see that?
    You went to bed last night with a cancer you didn’t know you had and you woke up this morning without that cancer and feeling absolutley no different from the person who went to bed last night. It doesn’t matter what happened to you last night. It’s all the same to you. If, in fact, you didn’t actually have cancer and you weren’t vapourised and duplicated you would be feeling exactly the same as you do now.
    So how can it matter?
    How can you continue to refuse to admit this simple, straight forward, and obvious conclusion?
    The truth of this is staring you in the face but you still refuse to admit it.

    And that goes for you too, ccbowers.

    Please, if you have a response, do not move on to the version where the original is retained. I will deal with that later, but there is no point in doing so unless and until you accept the obvious and undeniable fact about the above scenario.

  236. BillyJoe7on 29 Apr 2013 at 8:23 am

    Sonic,

    “The problem is that you either exist in a location in space or you don’t”

    That’s the dualist version.

    Here’s the materialist version…

    You are an illusion, part of a mental state produced by a brain.
    A duplicate brain in another location in space will produce an identical mental state part of which is the illusion of you.

    Please keep on topic.

  237. Bruce Woodwardon 29 Apr 2013 at 8:42 am

    BillyJoe,

    In the scenario above of being vapourised the night before, sure, to you now today, it doesn’t matter, in fact you owe your existence to that. The real question is what about the you yesterday? Turn this around, what if you were told that tonight you will be vapourised and you will die but an exact copy of you will continue without a tumour tomorrow.

    Your current stream of consciousness will end. What does it matter to you what other consciouness there is tomorrow because it won’t be you… it will be a copy, but it will not be you.

    Put that way can you see why people would not be to keen on it?

  238. Bruce Woodwardon 29 Apr 2013 at 8:43 am

    too*

    I would give money for an edit option. Or a good proof reader before I hit Submit.

  239. daedalus2uon 29 Apr 2013 at 9:04 am

    At no time were identical twins two separate and identical individuals.

    This thread is not covering anything connected to reality. Even the OP was about an imaginary technology (Star Trek transporter), one that violates physics as we know it.

    The idea that an electronic attachment could somehow augment and eventually substitute for a human brain is way beyond any capabilities that we know how to do. I don’t think that is possible. A biological brain can do many things that it has never done before. Some of its “programming” is activated by biological processes that are not apparent before they are activated and so couldn’t be “learned” by the electronic version.

    Suppose the scenario Dr Novella imagines played out, he augments his brain with an electronic addition, the electronic addition does more and more of his thinking, until he doesn’t notice anything when his biological brain falls asleep. Suppose this happens before he goes through puberty. Before he falls in love. Before he has a child. Before he has a grandchild. Does the electronic version “know” how to “reprogram” itself in response to those life altering events?

    Biological processes can “reprogram” biological brains to accommodate these life-altering events because that is how biological brains have been configured. Applying the “transform” of “falling in love” to a biological brain, produces characteristic changes that depend on the specifics of how the pre-love brain was configured. The post-love brain derives from the pre-love brain, but not in ways that the pre-love brain can understand ahead of time. How would an electronic version know how to apply a “falling in love” “transform” to itself?

    I especially reject the idea that languages are just “data”. To me, a language is equivalent to a “theory of mind” and I consider it to be the “communication protocols” that convert a data stream of language (speech, text, gestures, sounds) into mental concepts in a particular brain (and back).

  240. ccbowerson 29 Apr 2013 at 9:15 am

    “It doesn’t matter what happened to you last night. It’s all the same to you. If, in fact, you didn’t actually have cancer and you weren’t vapourised and duplicated you would be feeling exactly the same as you do now.
    So how can it matter?”

    After the fact it doesn’t matter, because the copy is all that is left. The original is gone, so yes, it doesn’t matter because the rest of the universe has not been affected. But… I think we may differ on why it doesn’t matter. To me, the main reason why my existence matters is that I feel attached to the concept of existing and my effects on the universe (particular other people in my life). After I am gone I no longer exist to care about this, and the other ‘me’ is fulfilling that role, but that doesn’t mean a prior I wouldn’t prefer to be the ‘me’ that remains. Pardon the symbolic language, but I think it’s clear enough.

    “Please, if you have a response, do not move on to the version where the original is retained. I will deal with that later.”

    Really? If you think your ‘take’ on this is correct the persistence of the original should not matter in a fundamental way with respect you your perspective of ‘self.’ If this does I think there is a problem.

  241. ccbowerson 29 Apr 2013 at 9:24 am

    “Biological processes can “reprogram” biological brains to accommodate these life-altering events because that is how biological brains have been configured.”

    This is one reason why I have always been doubtful about current computer technology as a suitable substrate for the brain, but I think this objection could go away with technological progress. To me, it seems like biology has already done the work through evolution, so that seems like we should be primarily using biology… what do we hope to acheive by taking biology out of the picture? I guess its the idea of immortality that is primary motivation. The other option is the hybrid form that Steve mentions. We will go to great lengths to find a loophole for this dying thing.

  242. Ditheiton 29 Apr 2013 at 1:03 pm

    Mlema-

    If I’m simply a physical arrangement of particles, why do new and identically arranged particles not constitute me?

    Because you’re still sitting here reading my message when 10 minutes ago I made a perfect copy of you on Mars. Then I shot the copy. You didn’t feel it, did you? Good, I didn’t think you would feel it, because it wasn’t you. You’re still reading this message after all.

    BillyJoe7-

    So how can it matter?
    How can you continue to refuse to admit this simple, straight forward, and obvious conclusion?
    The truth of this is staring you in the face but you still refuse to admit it.

    It doesn’t matter to everyone else, including the copy. It matters to the original, though.

    Yes, I wouldn’t know if I was the copy or not. Yes, I would have no way of determining whether or not the original me was vaporized. Yes, it doesn’t matter to the me sitting here typing this message. But if the original me was getting tortured on Ceti Alpha V, it sure as hell matters to him! If he dies, he’s dead forever. If I (the copy) were killed, it would matter to me! I’d be dead! I don’t want to be dead. That’s why it matters to *me* whichever me I happen to be. What haven’t I admitted now?

    Are you trying to say that I shouldn’t care if I live or die because it doesn’t matter? I would disagree. I like being alive.

    Please, if you have a response, do not move on to the version where the original is retained. I will deal with that later, but there is no point in doing so unless and until you accept the obvious and undeniable fact about the above scenario.

    I am really interested in how you answer the problem of retaining the original. I think that it is a crucial point in understanding why continuity matters.

  243. sonicon 29 Apr 2013 at 2:01 pm

    BillyJoe7–
    Let’s agree that if each brain was exactly in the same state they would each produce the same conscious experience.

    I suggest part of that experience would be “I am here” and “it is there”.
    That’s the experience of being a ‘self’ right?

    So we have two brains each with the correct thought “I am here and it is there”.
    And they are not the same brain (even though the only difference is location) and that’s what makes individuals distinct- two different i’s– each in its own location.

    So it is possible that what makes you is a brain with the thought “I am here”- nothing more, nothing less.
    You think there is more to it than that?

    And each “I am here” is a unique person– and there is nothing more to it– it doesn’t matter about experience and training and memory– because you are going to be you when you lose your memory– right?

  244. jasonnybergon 29 Apr 2013 at 3:08 pm

    Been very interesting watching this discussion proceed over the weekend.

    Some points I’ve been mulling:

    I think almost everyone is in violent agreement that a perfectly-reconstructed Person is, for all intents and purposes, exactly the same Person as far as the rest of the universe is considered.

    In general, the argument that “it doesn’t matter if there’s a reconstruction waiting in the wings, YOU die when you are vaporized!” is based on an undefined, and perhaps “traditional” definition of the word “death”; I.e. you’re “dead” when your brain ceases to function. (Under this definition, your functioning “brain-in-a-jar” is still “you”, which I’m betting even ditheist & ccbowers will accept.)

    ditheist is avoiding the question of “what is ‘you’” in a way that’s already been resolved earlier. Even while it seems that everyone is in violent agreement that both copies of a perfectly-duplicated Person wouldn’t be able to tell if they were the copy or not, he’s sticking his thumb on the scale by “inhabiting the POV” of one or the other instance and then judging the situation from that perspective. I.e. (paraphrased):

    Pretend, unbeknownst to you, a copy of you is made on mars; Now, while you (Earth-you) are just sitting there in front of your computer, someone comes in and says you must be destroyed; How do you feel?

    I’d feel PRETTY BADLY, I’m sure! From “my” POV, one second I’m sitting by my computer, the next, someone busts in and wants to destroy me! This is why I brought up “choice” early on. In this scenario, you have no choice in the matter… You can completely “change your perspective” on the question of “would you or wouldn’t you?” by fiddling with the pros & cons of the scenario. But none of these “POV” questions actually addresses the real matter at hand, which is: Are “you” “dead” if you’re scanned, vaporized, and reconstructed?

    ccbowers is falsely accusing the materialist position, which says that an identical copy of you is you in all respects, of being duallist by saying the materialist is transferring some non-materialist “stuff” from one copy to the other in order to make this claim; This is false because, while the materialist IS transferring “stuff” from one copy to the other, the “stuff” is merely information; the exact information generated by the scan, used to reconstruct the materially-identical copy.

    No biggie though, because I believe we all agree on one main point: That to the rest of the universe, an identical reproduction is just as good as the original.

    Moving on:

    “Self”: A product/phenomenon that emerges while the brain interprets and reacts to current sensory input, in the context of the integrated interpretation of all previous sensory input, as embodied in the connections/operation of neurons in the brain.

    This is a materialistic definition of “Self”. What are “you” if you are not, at the most fundamental essence, the collection of experiences in your life through which you interpret all new perceptions, filtered through the various chemical engines and connections and potentials that exist within the machinery of the brain.

    I would argue that the very concept of “Death” is obsolete in a world where your brain (which encodes all that makes “you” “you” for all intents and purposes) could be scanned with sufficient fidelity to create a copy indistinguishable from the original. Everything about you, even your “POV”, would exist inside the information that results from that scan, frozen in time.

    Given: Objectively, the copy is as good as the original,

    Question: Subjectively, doesn’t the question of whether or not you’d subject (no pun intended) yourself to the transporter come down to “choice?” I.e. what are your reasons for doing it, and are they important enough to overcome the innate animal survival instinct?

    Steve N. asked earlier:

    Marshall – I believe we already addressed this. Even if no one can’t tell the difference between the original and the copy, including the two people, there still is an original and a copy. The question is not – can you tell them apart. The question is – would you enter a process knowing that it involved destroying you and creating a perfect copy? Will you experience the copy’s existence in the same way that you are currently experiencing your own existence?

    “Would you” = “choice.” Choice is subjective. Choice requires a “why.”

    Let’s say my crazy friend got teleported to mars and back with no ill effects; He’s exactly the same, except he accumulated some pretty cool memories, photographs, and even a tattoo on his trip. Is he still my friend, or did my friend die? Assuming the technology is reliable, why wouldn’t I want to do the same thing?

    Nobody has given me any reason to believe that stepping through the teleporter would be any different from my POV than stepping through a door.

    Jason

  245. Ditheiton 29 Apr 2013 at 4:16 pm

    ditheist is avoiding the question of “what is ‘you’” in a way that’s already been resolved earlier. Even while it seems that everyone is in violent agreement that both copies of a perfectly-duplicated Person wouldn’t be able to tell if they were the copy or not, he’s sticking his thumb on the scale by “inhabiting the POV” of one or the other instance and then judging the situation from that perspective. I.e. (paraphrased):

    First, let me say that I do inhabit a POV. I inhabit the physical location in front of my computer screen.

    I’m really not trying to avoid this question. From my viewpoint, I’ve already answered it. I do actually inhabit this point of view. I’m at my computer while my copy on Mars is doing his business. I’ve said a half dozen times that it doesn’t matter from the copy’s perspective or everyone else’s perspective, just mine.

    Are “you” “dead” if you’re scanned, vaporized, and reconstructed?

    Yes. The person sitting in front of the computer is dead, which is all I personally care about. I don’t get to experience anything else if that person dies.

    I know there must be something I’m missing that is stopping me from understanding where the other side is coming from. I have read and re-read these post very carefully but I simply cannot see it. I would really like to, though, which is why I have posted 50 or so times already.

    I see that from everyone else’s perspective, it makes no difference if the “me” that is sitting in front of my computer is vaporized, I just don’t care. And when I say “everyone else,” I mean all of my hypothetical copies, too!

    Question: Subjectively, doesn’t the question of whether or not you’d subject (no pun intended) yourself to the transporter come down to “choice?” I.e. what are your reasons for doing it, and are they important enough to overcome the innate animal survival instinct?

    Yes, it’s a personal choice. If you are willing to die and a copy live in your place, you would use the transporter. If you don’t want to die, you wouldn’t use it. The critical thing here is that from your (the you reading this message) perspective, it would be the same if it simply vaporized you and didn’t make a copy.

    Is he still my friend, or did my friend die? Assuming the technology is reliable, why wouldn’t I want to do the same thing?

    From your perspective, he’s totally still your friend. I wouldn’t want to do the same, though.

    Nobody has given me any reason to believe that stepping through the teleporter would be any different from my POV than stepping through a door.

    Actually, I believe I have given a convincing reason why stepping through the teleporter would be suicide from your point of view. Suppose you stepped in the teleporter but the vaporizer malfunctioned. You are standing here on Earth while a copy of you is made on the Enterprise. From your perspective, you can’t even confirm there is a “you” on the Enterprise. The chief engineer comes up to you, draws his phaser and says, “Well, the transport was a success except we couldn’t disintegrate you here. Let me just take care of this…” From your perspective, you’re stuck on Earth, horrified that you’re about to die! You’ve already acknowledged this here:

    I’d feel PRETTY BADLY, I’m sure! From “my” POV, one second I’m sitting by my computer, the next, someone busts in and wants to destroy me!

    So I don’t see why you go on to think it wouldn’t be any different from your point of view than stepping through a door. It is different because you don’t face a gruesome death every time you step through a door!

  246. jasonnybergon 29 Apr 2013 at 5:48 pm

    The chief engineer comes up to you, draws his phaser and says, “Well, the transport was a success except we couldn’t disintegrate you here. Let me just take care of this…” From your perspective, you’re stuck on Earth, horrified that you’re about to die! You’ve already acknowledged this here:

    I’d feel PRETTY BADLY, I’m sure! From “my” POV, one second I’m sitting by my computer, the next, someone busts in and wants to destroy me!

    So I don’t see why you go on to think it wouldn’t be any different from your point of view than stepping through a door. It is different because you don’t face a gruesome death every time you step through a door!

    Yes, I addressed your scenario and why I feel it’s bogus; You’re putting your finger on the scale, forcing me to inhabit the “loser’s” perspective, and telling me I’m going to be killed unilaterally.

    You have to posit quite the scary scenario to make me blink.

    Re-introducing the ethical dilemma of branching then unilaterally terminating one branch of your consciousness is your particular nightmare; But you also concede that your POV will ALSO branch into the reconstruction; From that perspective, it’s you, feeling as if you stepped into a teleporter and stepped out on mars, with no feeling of discontinuity, and no experience of a gruesome death.

    You’re citing an “accident” teleportation scenario and then asking me to judge the technology and effects based on it. Guess what: I get into cars and on planes all the time, knowing there’s a very real, if small, chance I could die by doing so. I would submit to anesthesia (temporarily altering my brain chemistry and destroying my sense of self and my “POV”) to undergo open-heart surgery, knowing there’s a small chance the anesthesia might have a weaker (“AHHHH!”) or stronger (“ZZZZZzzzzz…….”) effect than anticipated.

    If teleportation, for all intents and purposes, were as as it’s depicted in movies, etc. (i.e. benignly) except for a 1/million chance of the “waking up in the middle of open-heart surgery” scenario, I’d be doing it all day long. Mars in the morning, Jupiter in the afternoon…

    As I said, there are issues society would need to work out if teleporter technology was available. Perhaps you’d need to sign a waiver before using the teleporter, waiving “your” right to exist given a “vaporizer malfunction.” Maybe vaporizer malfunction leftovers are allowed to live, but must fend for themselves. Maybe the reconstruction is deemed to be You after You “go through”, and it’s just accepted in society that the “leftovers” are considered by everyone (even the Traveller) to be socially unacceptable, and being destroyed is preferable even to being living “leftovers.”

    The notions of “Self” and “Death” would be completely redefined in a universe where a Person/brain/self/POV could be scanned, stored, and reconstructed/duplicated.

    I’m pretty sure that the benefits to society of being able to travel at the speed of light would be too vast and incredible to deny ourselves.

    Jason

  247. Ditheiton 29 Apr 2013 at 6:20 pm

    Yes, I addressed your scenario and why I feel it’s bogus; You’re putting your finger on the scale, forcing me to inhabit the “loser’s” perspective, and telling me I’m going to be killed unilaterally.

    But the person who steps into the Earth end of the transport will inevitably be the “loser”. “You” always lose. The person on Earth is never in the winner’s point of view, a wholly new individual is the winner.

    From that perspective, it’s you, feeling as if you stepped into a teleporter and stepped out on mars, with no feeling of discontinuity, and no experience of a gruesome death.

    Right, but I never get to be him. I’m always the one that gets brutally murdered by Scotty’s phaser here on Earth.

    If teleportation, for all intents and purposes, were as as it’s depicted in movies, etc. (i.e. benignly) except for a 1/million chance of the “waking up in the middle of open-heart surgery” scenario, I’d be doing it all day long. Mars in the morning, Jupiter in the afternoon…

    Then there would be scores of short lived jasonnybergs running around, each as doomed to live fore mere hours at a time.

    The “accident scenario” happens every time, it’s just instantaneous when you get vaporized.

    I’m pretty sure that the benefits to society of being able to travel at the speed of light would be too vast and incredible to deny ourselves.

    Like I said, have at it. It’s your funeral.

    I know I’ve said this a half dozen times by now, but picture it actually happened right now. There’s a perfect copy of you on Mars. Being instantly vaporized at the same time doesn’t change the fact that you’re the one on Earth, the “loser”. It sucks to die and gives you no consolation that someone is living it up on Mars right now, yes?

  248. jasonnybergon 29 Apr 2013 at 6:49 pm

    If the teleporter scanner is for all intents and purpose instantaneous, and it’s scanning you perfectly down to the atom, and assuming the reconstruction is likewise atomically precise:

    The reconstructed body will still be processing sensory input from it’s pre-scanned POV for several moments, as the chemical signals travelling through the reproduction’s nerves propagate towards the reconstructed brain.

    The brain itself will still be in a state where it’s thinking the exact same thought the original was thinking about when it was scanned, and quite literally, seeing the same thing the original was seeing, for a few moments after teleporting. Your POV will literally be duplicated; two brains perceiving the same environment, if only for an instant.

    I think that even though we all agree that a perfectly-reconstructed you is you, some people are squeamish about the treatment of the original, and to support their position, embellish the core issue with yucky scenarios that would make anybody squeamish.

    Jason

  249. Mlemaon 29 Apr 2013 at 7:06 pm

    ack. should not be here. It’s one of those times i really wish I had a copy of myself. :)

    Wanted to say something more to you Ditheit. Because i just love the way you are so willing to try to just plain understand what someone else is saying, whether you think they’re making any sense or not. I find that admirable and I try to do it myself. I’m not always successful. :)

    You’re sitting in front of your computer. You’re made up of countless atoms. You have memories, abilities, emotions, beliefs, sensations. You feel you are “in” your body, but you realize, as a materialist, that you’re not really “in” your body, but rather: you are your body. You have a perspective as a result of this body. You ARE those countless atoms and that’s all you are. All those other things you feel you “have” (your emotions, memories, sense of self) exist as those atoms. But why are those atoms “you”while the atoms of the computer are “not you”? Because: the atoms that comprise YOU are organized in a particular way. They’re really not different than atoms that make up your computer, they’re just organized differently. They’re all stuck together based on a sort of blueprint that informs the organization of every atom, molecule, gene, cell, tissue, cell, organ, etc., including your brain. If something gets messed up in translating that blueprint into physical material – you get messed up! This organization, this blueprint, is what gives you your perspective, NOT the actual atoms (which are changing all the time, but remain true to your blueprint) The blueprint is an actual thing. It’s non-material, but it’s not like it’s supernatural.

    The blueprint is indestructible because it’s information. So as long as that information is retrievable, you exist! All that really exists is electrons, protons, etc. You are not the same electrons that made up your 3 yr old self. So, if I could replace all the atoms in you right now as you’re sitting at your computer, would it mean that I had killed you? No. You’re the same person. There’s been no discontinuity, because I didn’t change anything about the way the “stuff” of you is ARRANGED. You’re the arrangement, the blueprint, not the actual stuff.

    How can you claim to be the physical stuff of you from one day to the next, when the physical you is different every day? When you make a memory, your brain and body change. A new body that has that same change in its brain and body is still you.

    It’s the organization, the arrangement, the blueprint, that makes you YOU. Thinking about using that blueprint to make 2 people is an abomination to us because it’s not something that seems very good or wholesome in this life. But that’s separate from the question about continuity. As long as the organization of matter stays true to the blueprint, you will remain you.

    I do think there’s just a simple inherent fear of the transporter because we are so attached to the SENSE of being “in” our body that we can’t imagine how all the atoms could be detached from each other without killing us. So we really have to ask: what are we? We’re not just a bunch of atoms, we are the result of countless cooperative relationships between those atoms based on a blueprint of specific organization. Since that is a non-physical informational thing, the information that “YOU” are doesn’t need to be disassembled in order to teleport. It just needs to be transmitted.

    This makes me think of the following:
    If a person is teleported, it’s not the physical stuff that’s being transported: it’s the information from the “scan”. So, we are making a sort of copy when we teleport. It seems we are “vaporized” simply to maintain the feeling of continuity – that is, so we feel like we went into the teleporter and then came out somewhere else. We wouldn’t necessarily be copying and pasting each time we traveled. We could have a copy made, test it out by pasting, and then just keep copies on all the planets we wanted to travel to. This does very much bring up the question of what to do with multiple yous? With this in mind, I understand why people wouldn’t want to teleport. There would be a destruction. This would be a very negative feeling, regardless. But I would do it because I look at it this way: I’m not the same person when I get off the plane as when I got on. The old person was destroyed. It was destroyed by time, and the new me got off the plane. So, If I go in the teleporter, I’d wait until I got the call from Saturn, from me :) saying “I’m here” Then I’d go in the vaporizer.

    There would have to be many more safeguards than currently exist with our TSA. We’d have to be sure no one other than ourselves could access the copy (blueprint) for fear that they could create other mes. Perhaps the info could be stored on our person instead. That would be so useful if I were severely injured. What if I got a serious brain injury? No problem. On this microscopic chip I have a the scan of my brain that i did this morning: restore! Yes, the brain-injured me is dead. Do I care? I’m still alive!

    What about this Ditheit: you go into the teleporter, a copy is made, and that allows the real, original you to wake up on Mars, with the copy here immediately vaporized. You’re hopping around on Mars, having a great time with your friends, then, a TSA agent taps you on the shoulder and says “we’re very sorry, but there was a malfunction and you’re actually the copy.” Now, what if he couldn’t find you to tell you that?

  250. Mlemaon 29 Apr 2013 at 7:16 pm

    I’d probably have a secret code word that only I knew, so that when my copy called me from Saturn I wouldn’t vaporize until I’d heard the word. Wonder how long that would take? And if some criminal tried to get me to tell them the code, I’d say: “go ahead kill me! The ticket was cheap and I’ll just buy another one.” :)

  251. sonicon 29 Apr 2013 at 8:45 pm

    Mlema-
    You have presented a series of physically impossible events in an attempt to explain how you are something other than the body sitting in front of the computer right now.
    I hope you can understand why I find this less than convincing… :-)

    I’m not sure I never know– it’s more like what I know might be wrong– ya know? :-)

    BillyJoe7-
    I’m wondering if you could answer the question-
    Where are you?

    That may seem an odd question, but you haven’t answered it– perhaps you can’t??– but it seems like you are suggesting that you are wherever a brain (or analogous physical substrate) is in a particular state.
    (If that is correct it leads to some rather odd questions, so before going there…)

    It is possible that you don’t know where you are, or that the question is meaningless because you don’t have a location. If so, then please state that clearly (I don’t have a location in space, for example) so that I can better understand what you are saying.

    Please don’t answer the question by making statements about others, as others have nothing to do with the question being asked–

    Where are you?

  252. jasonnybergon 29 Apr 2013 at 9:11 pm

    sonic,

    Imagine you asked him to tell you where he was, just as he was stepping through the teleporter.

    You’re not expecting a response, because he’s dead. Right?

    (phone rings…)

    Oops!

    Jason

  253. Mlemaon 29 Apr 2013 at 9:54 pm

    sonic:
    “You have presented a series of physically impossible events in an attempt to explain how you are something other than the body sitting in front of the computer right now.
    I hope you can understand why I find this less than convincing…”

    i have no way to account for myself.

    ask me more if you will, I’m eager to understand what you think I’m saying that doesn’t make sense. Because I’ve pretty much always agreed with you on everything, so I’m wondering if I’m coming out of left field on this
    thanks

    when I said “you never know” I was thinking about the idea that what I’m experiencing here and now might just be a cosmological holograph
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holographic_principle
    it “feels” like I’m here, but maybe I’m really just “a two-dimensional information structure ‘painted’ on the cosmological horizon”

  254. sonicon 30 Apr 2013 at 1:28 am

    Mlema-
    Perhaps we can help each other out here– I’m not sure you aren’t making sense– I’m just trying to understand what you are saying—

    If you are asking ‘what about these scenarios is impossible?’, then I can go into the list- although I believe daedalus2u has done a fairly good job of that all ready.

    If you are asking– given these scenarios, what is wrong with the thinking– I have to find out–

    Where are you?– I’m not looking for a street address– but rather I need to know if you are locatable in space.

    jasonnyberg-
    I don’t know where BJ7 is– how could I know if he is dead or not? ;-)
    Where do you think he is?
    Do you think he can answer the question?

    Of course he might resort to the old– “You are asking a dualist question,” gambit.
    But this just makes me think he doesn’t know where he is-

    I have other questions– but I really do have to know if I’m talking to someone with a location in space or not.
    The questions are different for someone who has a location in space than for someone who doesn’t. ;-)

  255. Mlemaon 30 Apr 2013 at 2:00 am

    Sonic – sorry, I wasn’t really trying to lay a claim to being sensible. Yes, as daedalus2u has eloquently written: the whole post is about impossibilities. I don’t think it’s possible that anything but a brain will ever be a brain. As for other possibilities: who knows? We don’t know what we’ll know someday :)

    There have been a number of conversations on this blog about consciousness, and with this discussion I felt like we got closer to the crux of some of the contradictions between what we believe and what we say we believe. Matter is matter is matter: what is it about the matter of “you” that makes you: “you”? So many have said: it’s just “my” physical stuff. But the physical stuff by any other name should smell as sweet – so – why is choosing between two identical brains not an easy choice? Do we instinctively know that they can’t be alike? Shouldn’t we still be able to choose for the sake of discussion? I think we reveal something about what we believe when we talk about these scenarios.

    we’re probably asking each other the same question.

    Where am I? If you’re not looking for a street address, then I can’t tell you. :/

  256. Mlemaon 30 Apr 2013 at 2:04 am

    oh, yes. I guess I just thought that the scenarios might make sense within a nonsensical scenario. Like a science fiction novel. It’s more about “selfness” and consciousness than about science.
    sorry again

  257. BillyJoe7on 30 Apr 2013 at 6:42 am

    Mlema,

    I just had a disturbing thought about your understanding of the materialist view on the problem of identity whilst reading what you wrote here…

    “I’d probably have a secret code word that only I knew, so that when my copy called me from Saturn I wouldn’t vaporize until I’d heard the word”

    Perhaps you were joking?
    But, to quickly clear this up, can I ask you the following question…
    If the original is retained when the copy is made and then the original dies a few days later, is it your opinion that the original will live on in the copy?

  258. BillyJoe7on 30 Apr 2013 at 7:08 am

    sonic,

    “BillyJoe7-
    I’m wondering if you could answer the question-
    Where are you?”

    Define “you”.

    “That may seem an odd question, but you haven’t answered it– perhaps you can’t??”

    I can. And I have. You just didn’t recognise the answer – because you are thinking and speaking and listening like a dualist. Here it is again:

    On 29 Apr 2013 at 8:23 am:
    Sonic: “The problem is that you either exist in a location in space or you don’t”
    BillyJoe: “That’s the dualist version.
    Here’s the materialist version…
    You are an illusion, part of a mental state produced by a brain.
    A duplicate brain in another location in space will produce an identical mental state part of which is the illusion of you.”

    ” but it seems like you are suggesting that you are wherever a brain (or analogous physical substrate) is in a particular state”

    Depends on how you define “you”.
    For the materialist, “you” are wherever a brain is in that particular state.
    That is the whole point of the vapourisation/duplication scenario. It demonstrates simply, clearly, and unequivocally how the copy is “you”, meaning “that particular mental state”. The copy feels exactly how “you” feel which is exactly how the original feels. They are equally legitimately “you”.

    “Please don’t answer the question by making statements about others, as others have nothing to do with the question being asked -
    Where are you?”

    Said like a true dualist.
    Define “you” as a materialist defines “you” and the question answers itself.

  259. BillyJoe7on 30 Apr 2013 at 7:28 am

    sonic,

    “BillyJoe7–
    Let’s agree that if each brain was exactly in the same state they would each produce the same conscious experience.
    I suggest part of that experience would be “I am here” and “it is there”.”

    Materialists don’t recognise the existence of selves.
    There is only the illusion of a self which is part of the mental state of a brain

    “That’s the experience of being a ‘self’ right?”

    Right. A dualist concept.

    “So we have two brains each with the correct thought “I am here and it is there”.
    And they are not the same brain (even though the only difference is location) and that’s what makes individuals distinct- two different i’s– each in its own location.
    So it is possible that what makes you is a brain with the thought “I am here”- nothing more, nothing less.”

    Said like a true dualist.

    “You think there is more to it than that?”

    In fact there is less to it that that.
    To repeat, for a materialist, there is no self, only the illusion of self (I would say that is something less than a self, wouldn’t you?)

    “And each “I am here” is a unique person– and there is nothing more to it– it doesn’t matter about experience and training and memory– because you are going to be you when you lose your memory– right?”

    If you lose your memory – if you can’t even remember what happened an instant ago – you are effectively suspended in time. Time literally does not pass for you. Thoughts can’t happen, actions cant happen, and you can have no concept of who you are.

  260. BillyJoe7on 30 Apr 2013 at 8:27 am

    Ditheit,

    “I am really interested in how you answer the problem of retaining the original. I think that it is a crucial point in understanding why continuity matters”

    But the whole point of the vapourisation/duplication scenario is to clearly and unequivocally demonstrate that physical continuity doesn’t matter.
    Can’t you see that?
    You went to sleep last night and you woke up this morning. Period.
    That fact does not change if there was a quantum fluctuation that resulted in the vapouriser/duplicator not working. Perhaps followed by a counter quantum fluctuation that corrected the fault and got it working again. Or not.
    You would feel no different when you woke up.
    This clearly and unequivocally demonstrates that continuity does not matter.

    ————————-

    On to the retained original where no one knows who is who…

    If the original is retained and the copy and the original wake up side by side, how would this change things? Well, it would certainly be a shock for both of them. They would both feel that the other is a doppelgänger that somehow managed to find their way into their bed. The copy and the original would feel exactly the same. Therefore, clearly, continuity cannot matter.

    ————————

    On to the retained original where both know who is who…

    You can do this by telling the original what you are going to do and then you scan the original in the front room looking out to the distant mountains and create the copy in the back room looking out to the chicken shed.
    Before they open their eyes, both feel exactly and equally the same.
    Continuity does not matter.
    When they open their eyes, they both know who is the original and who is the copy. Does this change anything. Of course it does. They both have things added to their memory circuits. One has added to his memory circuits the experience of looking out to the distant hills and realising he is the original. The other has added to his memory circuits the experience of looking out to the chook shed and realising he is the copy.

    But so what? That doesn’t negate the fact that, both of them felt exactly the same before they opened their eyes. And it doesn’t negate the lessons of the first two scenarios. If you think it does, then I forgot to tell you something…

    They actually put you to sleep while scanning you and moved you into the back room and created the copy in the front room. You are not the copy after all.
    Oh hold on, they were just kidding, they didn’t switch your positions after all. They has a coin flip and it came up heads and they spared themselves the effort of moving you. You are the copy. Feel bad?
    Well, cheer up, the supervisor came in during the scanning, noticed something was amiss, and made them put you in the back room anyway.
    Or not.

    If you find yourself on Mars, you might now be convinced that you are the copy but, having learnt the clear and unequivocal lessons above, how can that actually matter except for the psychological effects of realising you are never going to making love to your wife ever again. But, hold on, you were asleep much longer than you thought. You got transported to Mars and the copy stayed on Earth and is making love to your wife. Or his wife. Because they mixed things up and transported the copy instead.

    Continuity does not matter.

  261. jasonnybergon 30 Apr 2013 at 9:06 am

    BillyJoe7, I think you’re being a little hard on the sonic, he’s mostly getting it right; For instance, he said:

    So it is possible that what makes you is a brain with the thought “I am here”- nothing more, nothing less.

    This is a materialist view of “self”, recognizing that it’s arising from the activities of the brain.

    But sonic, nobody is arguing against the concept that active, conscious brains generate a feeling of “I AM HERE”, a POV. It has been recognized, universally, over and over in this thread.

    The only sticking point is that some contributors to this thread have a hard time believing that a reproduced brain will literally, exactly resume their POV from the moment of duplication. This is natural because we have a natural, instinctive aversion to “being killed”, even if we intellectually understand that ALL that makes you “you” would be contained in a sufficiently precise scan of the material in your body/brain.

    If you “asked me where I was”, and then immediately teleported me to Mars, you would get the answer, “I’m on Mars.” If you instead duplicated me, you’d get TWO answers from two legitimate copies of me. This is intuitive, and, I believe, universally agreed upon here.

    What isn’t universally agreed upon, I guess, is that a material destruction/reconstruction cycle is the same as nothing, i.e. (-1+1=0). The usual arguments against (-1+1=0) is to introduce something to the equation, something yucky, something unnatural, something that triggers the survival instinct or xenophobia. But that is avoiding the point; It’s equivalent to using (-1.1 + 1 =/= 0) or (0 + 1 =/= 0) to “prove” that (-1 + 1 =/= 0).

    Jason

  262. ccbowerson 30 Apr 2013 at 9:27 am

    “But the whole point of the vapourisation/duplication scenario is to clearly and unequivocally demonstrate that physical continuity doesn’t matter.”

    BJ7, in this discussion you seem to argue more by assertion than anything else, never convincingly explaining why your conclusions are necessarily true given the circumstances. You speak as if they are self evident, and repeat that many things “don’t matter.” The problem is that I could agree with you that these things “don’t matter,” from a certain perspective, but even that is vague, and it depends on what you mean by “don’t matter.” It appears that instead of clearly stating why your view of these senarios are correct, you are making an “argument by dismissal.” Constantly bringing up the term dualist, when it doesn’t apply.

    The fact that perfect duplication is probably impossible likely makes of this discussion moot, or maybe it doesn’t

  263. ccbowerson 30 Apr 2013 at 9:33 am

    “The only sticking point is that some contributors to this thread have a hard time believing that a reproduced brain will literally, exactly resume their POV from the moment of duplication. This is natural because we have a natural, instinctive aversion to “being killed”, even if we intellectually understand that ALL that makes you “you” would be contained in a sufficiently precise scan of the material in your body/brain.”:

    I’m not sure that this is the sticking point at all. The sticking point seems to be the significance of 2 identical bodies, therefore consciousnesses. So is it your perspective that if there are 2 identical consciounesses at the same time, that removing one (e.g. vaporizing one body) doesn’t matter? Why doesn’t it matter? Does it matter if there is only one body/ consciousness and it is vaoprized? What is the difference between these two senarios if the net effect is one less consciousness?

    (I used consciousness, but mean it to = mental state which corresponds to the physical brain and its activity)

  264. jasonnybergon 30 Apr 2013 at 11:15 am

    I’m not sure that this is the sticking point at all. The sticking point seems to be the significance of 2 identical bodies, therefore consciousnesses. So is it your perspective that if there are 2 identical consciounesses at the same time, that removing one (e.g. vaporizing one body) doesn’t matter? Why doesn’t it matter? Does it matter if there is only one body/ consciousness and it is vaoprized? What is the difference between these two senarios if the net effect is one less consciousness?

    It depends upon your definition of “matter”.

    It doesn’t matter to the continuation of the original consciousness as it existed at the moment it was scanned. There will be one continuous stream of that consciousness, regardless of which copy is destroyed.

    Certainly, adding the wrinkle of branching the stream of consciousness introduces an ethical dimension to the issue, and there is no concrete answer to the question of whether it “matters” (i.e. is it “right”?) to terminate one branch or the other. The owner of the consciousness might have different opinions about whether it would be “right” for both copies to exist, and which one should be the “winner”, depending upon his situation. But whether “it matters” if one branch of a branching consciousness is terminated is an ethical matter which is orthogonal to the question of whether that branching consciousness/self/POV, as scanned, has an unbroken, continuous, and continued existence.

    The REAL sticking point that is that some are using the ethical issues arising from the “branching duplicator scenario” to discredit the orthogonal, “technical”, materialist view of the “linear teleportation” scenario, even though they say they accept that the teleported person would, to the outside world and even the inside world, be indistinguishable from the original.

    Some just can’t grok the “black box”, that -1+1 really equals 0.

    Jason

  265. chriskonceson 30 Apr 2013 at 1:30 pm

    If the underlying technology essentially is a “Kill/Clone” machine then hell yea I got a problem with that.. who wouldnt ? Well the one person who wouldnt care is my clone, but “I” dont care about what my clone thinks – he doesnt exist yet.

    My clone would be perfectly happy , and I would imagine very excited that the transport worked and he retained all of my memories, and now is moving forward with his own arrow of time. But I as in me, right now, cares. Under the assumption that I will be destroyed, in order to make a copy of me to live on would bother me a great deal.

    Now if the technology that constututed the transporter were to physically “transport” my atoms, and reconstruct them – its possible that I would not have a problem with that. Whats the difference ? Well for one a copy is a copy. The fact that I know that I am going to be copied atom by atom gives me no solace in the fact that I am still going to be copied. A copy of an atom is not the same atom as the original. One atom may have been generated by the collapse of this star vs the collapse of another star. Its not the same atom.

    Maybe Im just being to picky, but an exact copy of me is still not me, to ME right now, at this point in my arrow of time.

  266. Ditheiton 30 Apr 2013 at 1:48 pm

    BillyJoe7, I hope this isn’t too frustrating for you. Thanks for sticking around and helping me understand your perspective on this problem.

    But the whole point of the vapourisation/duplication scenario is to clearly and unequivocally demonstrate that physical continuity doesn’t matter.
    Can’t you see that?

    I guess not, because I care whether I live or die. It matters to me if I get to keep experiencing the world. It gives me no consolation that another individual continues to live on in my place.

    You would feel no different when you woke up.
    This clearly and unequivocally demonstrates that continuity does not matter.

    Yes, I could be the copy that is alive right now. That doesn’t matter to the original who is now dead. From the original’s perspective, it is no different than simply dying. From my perspective I wouldn’t know the difference, but the original is dead forever regardless of an identical consciousness taking its place. When you say “you would feel no different,” it depends on which “you” feels no different. Again, we’ve made two individuals. One is dead and is no longer experiencing the world. One is alive and feels no different, granted. I just wouldn’t want to be the one that died!

    So no, I would say that it doesn’t demonstrate that continuity doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter to the individual that is still alive (or the rest of the universe) but from the other individual’s perspective, it is the same as dying.

    If the original is retained and the copy and the original wake up side by side, how would this change things? Well, it would certainly be a shock for both of them. They would both feel that the other is a doppelgänger that somehow managed to find their way into their bed. The copy and the original would feel exactly the same. Therefore, clearly, continuity cannot matter.

    It doesn’t matter to anyone but those two individuals which lives and which gets vaporized. But both would not want to be killed in the same way I don’t want to be killed now. If I died now, I would never understand where the other side of this discussion is coming from! It still matters to me which is killed regardless of whether I’m the copy or if I’m the original. That’s the thing, though: in the transporter problem, I’m the original. That means I don’t want the original to get vaporized.

    This is an important point that I’ll emphatically agree on: you both feel exactly the same. You are the same person but are two separate individuals. Each individual has their own experience and perspective even if they are both identical. Dying sucks for either, which means it would suck for me if I was the one that got vaporized.

    In your final example. you have a situation where neither knows who is the original or the copy (the copier pulls a shell game). I agree, from each of their perspectives (and the universe), they are indistinguishable. But they are still two individuals experiencing the world. They are two separate brains feeling, tasting, seeing, etc. If I am the copy or the original, I still care if I live or die regardless of the existence of the other because I don’t get to experience what they’re experiencing. If the original goes to Paris and I, the copy, am sent to a salt mine, it sucks to be me, right? It would be unpleasant! I don’t care how good of a time that high-and-mighty original is having.

    It seems to me that you’re analyzing the problem from a perspective that isn’t the copy or the original’s. I would come to the same conclusion if I was doing experiments on two objects that aren’t conscious and don’t have a unique perspective. I’m looking at this problem from my perspective (the me sitting at the computer) and saying that I don’t want to be vaporized regardless of how many copies you make of me. Because if you made a perfect copy of me on the Enterprise right now, I wouldn’t even know about it. If I don’t know about it, it doesn’t seem to matter to me that the copy exists at all. I’d be dead if you vaporized me, copy or no.

  267. ccbowerson 30 Apr 2013 at 2:09 pm

    “It seems to me that you’re analyzing the problem from a perspective that isn’t the copy or the original’s.”

    Yes this is part of the problem, because in denying that perspective matters, then it is a bit like begging the question. He wants to deny any mental experience (particularly subjective experiences of self) as being illusory, but illusions themselves are mental processes which result in these experiences (which arise from the physical brain of course).

    There seems to be a self contradiction in there – the only way for things to be illusory is to acknowledge that these mental processes occur, and BJ7 keeps calling acknowledging these as dualist perspectives, but I think that is incorrect – he is applying the term far too broadly.

    From my perspective if one concludes that being vaporized doesn’t matter if there is an identical copy, then being vaporized without a copy shouldn’t matter for the same reasons…. except for the impact those senarios have on the rest of the universe.

  268. Mlemaon 30 Apr 2013 at 2:36 pm

    BillyJoe,

    “If the original is retained when the copy is made and then the original dies a few days later, is it your opinion that the original will live on in the copy?”

    No. Here’s what I was trying to say:

    I’m thinking of a code # right now. Then, I’m scanned. And at the same moment, instantaneously, I’m on Mars (I’m now actually a copy – so – effectively, there are two of me (for a short period) My duplicate and I are two people, but before we were two people we were one person that had determined to end the life of the me on Earth. So, I call my duplicate on Earth to let me know that I’ve been generated successfully. I give my earlier self the code and I walk into the vaporizer.

    Essentially, I am two people at one time, but since we are exactly alike (minus the moments post-duplication) I feel no sense of loss when one of us “dies”. Of course I don’t want to “die” if I’m the earlier version – but I’m able to trust, once I hear my own voice speaking the code that only exists in my brain, that I actually am now on Mars. It’s “me”. I think this allows for the materialist’s “illusion”. – and is placing trust only in science: that “I” am an illusion that now virtually exists on Mars where there is a physically identical “me”.

  269. Mlemaon 30 Apr 2013 at 2:43 pm

    BJ, In other words: if the “I” is an illusion created by the physical brain, then the “I” illusion of the copy should, in a sense, “live on” in the copy. But the “I” illusion of the original doesn’t live on past the moment of destruction (but it wouldn’t even if the original lived, because in the next moment, the illusion is not the same anyway)

    am I answering you at all? this starts to get so trippy! :)

  270. Mlemaon 30 Apr 2013 at 2:50 pm

    further: I suppose I and my copy could agree to begin to be two different people. But when I was one person, I had decided that I didn’t want to do that – therefore – once I am two people, I still have the same proclivity, therefore, I’m willing to destroy one of my selves. There would be a problem, I suppose, if one of me suddenly decided post-teleportation: I think I want to live as two people after all. So then, if it was the original that decided that, and I had determined to destroy my original self, well, I guess we’d probably get into a big argument that formerly would have taken place in my mind.

  271. jasonnybergon 30 Apr 2013 at 3:11 pm

    sonic,

    It still matters to me which is killed regardless of whether I’m the copy or if I’m the original. That’s the thing, though: in the transporter problem, I’m the original. That means I don’t want the original to get vaporized.

    From my perspective, I (as scanned) am not “killed”, I live on in a suspended, purely informational state until I am reconstructed and continue on, as if nothing happened. From a materialist perspective, the copy is physically identical to the original in all respects, including the perception of continuity. From a materialist perspective, nothing happened to me.

    You seem to acknowledge this perspective on an intellectual basis, but cannot reconcile this acceptance with your “intuitive” perspective that you require your particular atoms to never be “unnaturally” perturbed.

    I.e. you’re intellectually a materialist, but intuitively/subconsciously a duallist. You don’t trust the materialist perspective.

    Irony alert: Perhaps, fundamentally, true acceptance of “materialism” requires a “leap of faith.”

    Jason

  272. ccbowerson 30 Apr 2013 at 3:16 pm

    “further: I suppose I and my copy could agree to begin to be two different people.”

    Mlema,
    I don’t think you can decide this, which is why this discussion is impossible. You really couldn’t remain identical unless you occupied the same space/time (which is not possible but if it were possible both versions would always be the same), but if you occupied two different locations, I don’t think you could remain the same other than that very instant in which you were copied. You would immediately diverge from that point

  273. jasonnybergon 30 Apr 2013 at 3:21 pm

    “further: I suppose I and my copy could agree to begin to be two different people.”

    [...]You would immediately diverge from that point

    Again, this divergence from the point of scan is universally acknowledged in this thread.

    Think, “branch” vs. “not branch”.

    Jason

  274. ccbowerson 30 Apr 2013 at 3:33 pm

    “Again, this divergence from the point of scan is universally acknowledged in this thread.”

    If it were universally acknowledge Mlema would not have made that comment. But I agree that that is not the point of contention, I just noticed that Mlema’s comment seemed to contradict what you say is universally acknowledged.

  275. Mlemaon 30 Apr 2013 at 3:44 pm

    ccbowers (quoting me):

    “further: I suppose I and my copy could agree to begin to be two different people.”

    I agree with you that once I exist as two people, we are not the same people. So any decision about what to do about that fact needs to happen before we (I) become two people. OR very very shortly thereafter, acknowledging that even that very very short time means we have begun to be two people, and have decided that the experience we have as individuals during that short time will vanish once the one who’s had it is no more. For myself I would say: no problem. Why? Because when I think back on my experiences of the last few moments, or even the last few hours, I think: no big whoop. Now, if it were Einstein, who may have some brilliant insight over lunch, then I would say: better just do an instantaneous exchange of atoms so that no information is generated that is then lost.

    Again, I think the contentious part of this is: is it the actual atoms of our bodies that make us “us” – or is it the way they are arranged? I think we have to say it’s the way they’re arranged. Because if I take those same atoms and just disarrange them, they’re no longer “you”, right? We’re not JUST our atoms – we’re the way they’re arranged – which is being duplicated from one moment to the next anyway. So why not just have one moment’s arrangement here on earth, and the next moment’s identical arrangement on Mars?

  276. Mlemaon 30 Apr 2013 at 4:21 pm

    jasonnyberg:
    “Irony alert: Perhaps, fundamentally, true acceptance of “materialism” requires a “leap of faith.””

    I think this is a scientific truth. Since all we can prove is our subjective experience of whatever really exists.

  277. jasonnybergon 30 Apr 2013 at 4:29 pm

    “Irony alert: Perhaps, fundamentally, true acceptance of “materialism” requires a “leap of faith.””

    I think this is a scientific truth. Since all we can prove is our subjective experience of whatever really exists.

    In our everyday experience, we call things that walk like a duck and quack like a duck “ducks.”

    I can see why it can be very hard to accept that something that “walks like me and quacks like me” is me. It’s just one of a million things that will never be intuitive to us lowly, evolved beings, like there is an ultimate speed limit in the universe, the superposition of life/death embodied in Schroedinger’s Cat, etc. etc. etc.

    Jason

  278. Mlemaon 30 Apr 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Like the fact that once again I have to go to work, while I continue to claim that: I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to. :)

  279. sonicon 30 Apr 2013 at 5:38 pm

    Mlema-
    Nothing to be sorry about– I get the impression that we have more agreement than not on this.
    It is an interesting question– what if two brains were the same– but one quickly realizes that two brains will always be in different locations and the main point of who “i” am is that “i am here”.

    You aren’t here and neither is anyone else– despite the fact that my brain becomes an exact duplicate of whomever I am communicating with — again– another ridiculous scenario to make a point.
    Right?

    It seems that when one gets into ‘multiple selves that are the same’… one is ignoring the key feature that makes us individuals–
    I am here and it is there– or one trys to say that this is an ‘illusion’ that ‘doesn’t matter’ while claiming that the ‘illusion’ will be exactly the same and ‘that’s all that matters’.
    Have it both ways– :-)

    Anyway– it is one thing to make up scenarios to explore an area– and it is actually a good way to do the exploring.
    But when you make conclusions based on fantasy about what you are exploring that are false without recognizing the error– well now you are getting into my expertise :-)

  280. sonicon 30 Apr 2013 at 5:42 pm

    BillyJoe7-
    “You” are the human being I am talking to.

    So you are where a brain is in a particular state. Very good.

    So what state is that? The brain that is directing the fingers that is typing this message changes states pretty much instantly and continuously. Is it a new me every 100th of a second?
    If so, then what do we call the part that continues (the body and such)?

    Now if it isn’t a new ‘me’ every 100th of a second or so, then it becomes clear that there is a range of brain states that would be ‘me’– right?
    So how much different from the current brain state will still be me?
    If I have a stroke, for example, the brain state could be dramatically different than it is now, so will that still be me?

    If a dramatic change in brain state could still be me, then could I be the guy down the street eating breakfast? Why not– it’s just a brain state– it isn’t really all that different from the one that is ‘me’—-
    Oh my, my brain state is changing… Now I’m Thomas Jefferson reincarnate! :-)

    But am I still me?? :-(

    Anyway, perhaps the brain state that is you exists in the cat sitting next to me.
    How would you adjudicate that?
    How would I?

    There is no self. only an illusion of self– then a self is the illusion that “I am here”.
    Gee, I’m not sure that’s an illusion.
    Perhaps you are here and I am there?

  281. sonicon 30 Apr 2013 at 5:45 pm

    jasonnyberg-
    I believe the imagined transporter scenario (a physical impossibility as far as we know) leads to the question about the duplicate (another physical impossibility BTW).

    The duplicate leads to another way of exploring the issue of what it is to be ‘me’ that at least seems relevant to the transporter question- perhaps a more clear way– perhaps it is muddying the waters– not sure on that.

    However, if you think you know what will happen in the transporter scenario– well, that’s fine– how many other physically impossible things do you know the outcome of?

    ccbowers–
    Wow– :-)
    Your take down of BJ7′s tactics is awesome…

  282. jasonnybergon 30 Apr 2013 at 6:36 pm

    sonic, once again, it is universally acknowledged within this thread that active, functioning people/brains are unique and each has a POV that’s unique, based on it’s current environment.

    It is universally acknowledged by materialists that your “sense of self”, your POV, arises from the function of the active brain, and is dependent upon its physical state.

    A cat’s brain cannot generate your sense of self. My brain cannot generate your sense of self. Is there some reason why you think there is some dispute about this? Is it because you don’t understand the materialist position that your sense of a conscious, thinking “spirit” within your head, right behind your eyeballs, is characterized as “emergent” or “illusory”, and think we’re talking on the level of “Freaky Friday” identity-exchange ideas?

    Is it a coincidence that everyone is long past the “diverging POV” issue except for yourself and ccbowers? That, even though everyone is past it, you both continue to “correct” us on this point?

    Finally, regardless of whether the thought-experiments we’re discussing are physically possible or not, we’re not really talking about “teleporters” and “duplicators”… We’re talking about the consequences of truly accepting a materialistic view of the universe, versus just paying it lip service but fleeing back to dualism or “quantum uncertainty” at the first sign of an intellectual hurdle.

    Jason

  283. ccbowerson 30 Apr 2013 at 9:08 pm

    “Is it a coincidence that everyone is long past the “diverging POV” issue except for yourself and ccbowers?”

    Its absurd to imply that I am hung up on the issue, when I was clearly referring recent comment that contradicted this diverging POV issue you say everyone is past. Either you are being intellectually dishonest or you have reading comprehension problem. Mlema implied that diverging POV could be decided mutually between the copy and original, which I pointed out is not a decide-able by anyone. If that is not what he meant, that is how it read in his comment. Now that he responeded, I think he gets that point, but perhaps worded his comment incorrectly. What is your problem with this again?

  284. ccbowerson 30 Apr 2013 at 9:14 pm

    “versus just paying it lip service but fleeing back to dualism or “quantum uncertainty” at the first sign of an intellectual hurdle.”

    I speak for no one but myself here, and it is not a legitmate tactic to lump different perpectives together, but explain to me where dualism is relevant here. Specifically who is being dualistic and how? Which arguments are proposing nonphysical substances or causes? I think you are arguing against a strawman

  285. jasonnybergon 30 Apr 2013 at 10:53 pm

    ccbowers,

    Its absurd to imply that I am hung up on the issue, when I was clearly referring recent comment that contradicted this diverging POV issue you say everyone is past. Either you are being intellectually dishonest or you have reading comprehension problem. Mlema implied that diverging POV could be decided mutually between the copy and original, which I pointed out is not a decide-able by anyone. If that is not what he meant, that is how it read in his comment.

    Perhaps you might find it instructive to go back and read some of Mlema’s comments from where he entered the conversation. You’ll notice that while he’s being amusingly “obtuse” (which is far more pleasing to read than my admittedly more “acute” style), you’ll find that he’s consistent… nay insistent in his acknowledgement that copies of a person have unique, diverging experiences. A recent post implying what you say would be inconsistent with his preceding posts, which might give one pause to interpret it in such a way if one recognized this.

    I speak for no one but myself here, and it is not a legitmate tactic to lump different perpectives together, but explain to me where dualism is relevant here. Specifically who is being dualistic and how? Which arguments are proposing nonphysical substances or causes? I think you are arguing against a strawman

    It’s dualist to say that something exists beyond your material being, something that is lost if you translate your material being into a description of your material being (of sufficient fidelity) and then back into actual material.

    (If you have read some of mlema’s early posts in this thread, you’ll see that he also made this exact point, in his third post.)

    It is a strawman to introduce the ethical dilemma of branching a consciousness to argue against translating a consciousness into a description of it’s physical embodiment and back.

    Jason

    Jason

  286. sonicon 01 May 2013 at 12:59 am

    jasonnyberg-
    If it is ‘universally acknowledged’ that ‘functioning people/brains are unique and each has a POV that’s unique, based on it’s current environment.’, then the consequence of this is also acknowledged– that the copy on Mars is not you and killing the person on earth would be the end and death of the one and only you.

    But it doesn’t seem so clear that everyone would agree to that.
    Isn’t that a consequence of what you are claiming everyone has agreed to– a person has a unique POV- -you (a person) has a unique POV– you are not someone with a different POV– killing the person with your POV is killing you…?

    My guess is that BJ7 is talking from “Consciousness Explained” by Dennett, not ‘Freaky Friday’ –

    I’m not sure where you are coming from yet– same book?

    Why couldn’t a cat’s brain or your brain produce my sense of self?
    How do you know it isn’t all ready?

  287. BillyJoe7on 01 May 2013 at 6:49 am

    ccbowers,

    “BJ7, in this discussion you seem to argue more by assertion than anything else, never convincingly explaining why your conclusions are necessarily true given the circumstances. You speak as if they are self evident”

    Because they ARE self evident.
    You just have to rid yourself of your intuitive biases which are almost always dualist in in nature.
    You went to sleep at last night and you woke up in the morning.
    The above statement applies whether or not the vapouriser/duplicator malfunctioned.
    How is this not self evident?
    How could this possibly need further explanation?
    And how does that not lead to the conclusion that continuity does not matter.

    “It appears that instead of clearly stating why your view of these senarios are correct, you are making an “argument by dismissal.””

    It’s not my view, it’s the materialist view, and it IS correct. And I have stated it as clearly as possible.
    I don’t see myself as arguing against others views so much as trying to show others what the materialist view on the problem of identity actually is.

    “Constantly bringing up the term dualist, when it doesn’t apply.”

    But it does apply.
    The fact that you don’t see this is part of the problem you have in understanding the materialist view.
    Jason explained it best with his mathematical formulation a couple of dozen post ago:
    It’s worth reposting:

    The only sticking point is that some contributors to this thread have a hard time believing that a reproduced brain will literally, exactly resume their POV from the moment of duplication. This is natural because we have a natural, instinctive aversion to “being killed”, even if we intellectually understand that ALL that makes you “you” would be contained in a sufficiently precise scan of the material in your body/brain.

    If you “asked me where I was”, and then immediately teleported me to Mars, you would get the answer, “I’m on Mars.” If you instead duplicated me, you’d get TWO answers from two legitimate copies of me. This is intuitive, and, I believe, universally agreed upon here.

    What isn’t universally agreed upon, I guess, is that a material destruction/reconstruction cycle is the same as nothing, i.e. (-1+1=0). The usual arguments against (-1+1=0) is to introduce something to the equation, something yucky, something unnatural, something that triggers the survival instinct or xenophobia. But that is avoiding the point; It’s equivalent to using (-1.1 + 1 =/= 0) or (0 + 1 =/= 0) to “prove” that (-1 + 1 =/= 0).

    “The fact that perfect duplication is probably impossible likely makes of this discussion moot, or maybe it doesn’t”

    It makes no difference at all.
    It’s merely a thought experiment – a tool if you like – used to clarify the materialists view on the problem of identity. If eventually worked for me, but I had to overcome a lot of intuitive biases. It seems it doesn’t work for everyone.

  288. BillyJoe7on 01 May 2013 at 7:11 am

    sonic,

    “jasonnyberg- If it is ‘universally acknowledged’ that ‘functioning people/brains are unique and each has a POV that’s unique, based on it’s current environment.’, then the consequence of this is also acknowledged– that the copy on Mars is not you and killing the person on earth would be the end and death of the one and only you.”

    I’m glad I’m not the only one you do this to.
    You ask me a question. You ignore my answer. You ask your question again.
    Jasonnyberg has already answered this question, and it ended with the line….
    “Some just can’t grok the “black box”, that -1+1 really equals 0″

    So, please, if someone does you the courtesy of answering your question, please return the courtesy of quoting their answer and responding to it.

  289. BillyJoe7on 01 May 2013 at 8:04 am

    Ditheit,

    “I care whether I live or die. It matters to me if I get to keep experiencing the world.”

    That statement applies equally to the original and the copy.

    “It gives me no consolation that another individual continues to live on in my place”

    The point is that “you” (a mental state) will continue to live on either in the original – like when the vapouriser/duplicator got caught up in traffic last week and failed to arrive – or in the copy – like when the vapouriser/duplicator managed to find its way through the traffic and arrived the following night. Or “you” (a mental state) will continue to live on in both the original and the copy – like when the vapouriser part failed. The problem with the last scenario is the unfortunate problem of having two of “you” for one wife.

    “I just wouldn’t want to be the one that died!”

    But the vapouriser/duplicator manged to get through the traffic last night and here “you” (a mental state) are and you couldn’t care less what happened last night. The machine failed or it didn’t fail, it makes no difference to “you” (a mental state). But what a bummer for both of you if you wake up with one of you on either side of your wife. Maybe you will have a duel between yourselves to see who survives to make love to your wife. And, no, neither of you will want to lose that contest.

    When there is knowledge by “you” who is the original and who is the copy, that adds a psychological element that in no way impacts on the above argument.

  290. jasonnybergon 01 May 2013 at 8:54 am

    Isn’t that a consequence of what you are claiming everyone has agreed to– a person has a unique POV- -you (a person) has a unique POV– you are not someone with a different POV– killing the person with your POV is killing you…?

    Technically, they are unique to a very, very small degree; just to the extent that each has begun to accumulate their own unique experiences past the point of duplication. We all agree that terminating one branch of a branching consciousness terminates that branches POV. And I’ve acknowledged over and over that there are ethical issues introduced when you branch a consciousness.

    At the moment of duplication, there is no unique POV. There are two sets of eyeballs literally perceiving the same environment, sharing the exact same POV, to the extent that there are lingering signals from from the senses still winding their way through the nervous system. Technically, at this moment, if you’re interested in preserving balance in the universe and not introducing ethical problems, the ethical thing to do is follow the wishes of the person being teleported and destroy the local instance, seeing as how that was his wish in the first place. It’s his consciousness, he can do what he wants with it. If he wants one unbranching instance, just moved from here to there, it would be unethical to create a new instance of his consciousness without his permission.

    I believe, with this perspective, I can now defend both the technical and ethical angles of the teleporter argument.

    Please make an attempt to understand it before repeating your usual response again.

    Jason

  291. ccbowerson 01 May 2013 at 10:47 am

    “Because they ARE self evident.
    You just have to rid yourself of your intuitive biases which are almost always dualist in in nature.
    You went to sleep at last night and you woke up in the morning.
    The above statement applies whether or not the vapouriser/duplicator malfunctioned.
    How is this not self evident?
    How could this possibly need further explanation?
    And how does that not lead to the conclusion that continuity does not matter.”

    I am not arguing this point at all, continuity is preserved in the senario you mentioned, for the “copy.” If the original is vaporized, that version no longer exists, so in that sense it doesn’t matter. The slightly different copy is the new “me,” and this is OK for the rest of the universe because I am always changing and slightly different as time passes anayways. I have no problem with your description of this, so I’m not sure why you keep pointing out this point. I’m still unclear about how dualism applies and I reject the label. Jason attempted to explain, but I will have to read that later as I have limited time today.

    “It’s not my view, it’s the materialist view, and it IS correct.”

    My take on this is that you are proposing “a” materialist view, and calling everything else dualism (which is incorrect). When in fact you are narrowing the term to what you think you understand, perhaps from reading a Dennett book, thinking you have understood all of the philosophy of mind. If this were clearly settled as you assert, we would not have intelligent people still arguing these distinctions as a legitimate controversies in the field (not psuedocontroversies). I agree that some of arguments are based upon some people’s intellectual biases, but I disagree that that is all it is.

    I get that you are talking from a certain perspective: that you think that you understand something I don’t, and that you have “progressed” from my position at some point to your current understanding. I have my doubts about this, but I am attempting to be convinced otherwise. You seem to be unwilling to entertain the idea that you are overstating your case. I don’t find your certainty that convincing, because your intellectual style seems to be to obtain intellectual closure after investigation that you deem sufficient. But that doesn’t mean you are correct, but it does mean you feel as though you are.

  292. ccbowerson 01 May 2013 at 10:58 am

    “It is a strawman to introduce the ethical dilemma of branching a consciousness to argue against translating a consciousness into a description of it’s physical embodiment and back.”

    Jason- How is this a “strawman?” A strawman is to misrepresent an argument in order to attack it, and this does not do that. The purpose of introducing branching consciousness is to help elucidate the other person’s persective to see where there is disagreement versus agreement. You keep bringing this up and then accuse others of bringing this up. I am actually attempting to be convinced here, and wanted to explore different senarios to see where the breakdown occurs.

    I don’t want to sound to antagonistic, because I appreciate your recent explanations and will have to read them more later. My take is that you both are overextrapolating from your understandings of materialism and overstating your cases, accusing materialist positions of being dualist ones

  293. jasonnybergon 01 May 2013 at 11:29 am

    I am not arguing this point at all, continuity is preserved in the senario you mentioned, for the “copy.” If the original is vaporized, that version no longer exists, so in that sense it doesn’t matter. The slightly different copy is the new “me,” and this is OK for the rest of the universe because I am always changing and slightly different as time passes anayways. I have no problem with your description of this, so I’m not sure why you keep pointing out this point. I’m still unclear about how dualism applies and I reject the label. Jason attempted to explain, but I will have to read that later as I have limited time today.

    Given what I highlighted in your statement above, we are in 100% agreement, and you are not making a dualist argument.

    I think you’re merely expressing concern for the fate of the original; As I said earlier, if the will of the Person is to merely move from one place to another while maintaining a single, unbranching consciousness, then it would be an ethical breach to allow his consciousness to branch in the first place… If his POV is allowed to branch and you’re worried about the ethics of what to do about the branch, so be it… But the ethical breach has already been committed, at the moment the branch was allowed to happen. The simple, traditional solution to this “problem” is to prevent the branch in the first place, by performing “the operation” while the mind is unconscious.

    I chose the word “operation” very deliberately:

    The ethical breach of allowing a consciousness (branched or not) to unwillingly experience trauma is already dealt with every single day… I would perhaps consider being “consciously exposed” to the trauma of the scan/vaporize stage of our hypothetical teleportation process to be qualitatively identical to being “consciously exposed” to the trauma of open-heart surgery. IMHO, they only differ quantitatively in the amount of deconstruction vs. reconstruction.

    Jason

  294. jasonnybergon 01 May 2013 at 11:56 am

    “It is a strawman to introduce the ethical dilemma of branching a consciousness to argue against translating a consciousness into a description of it’s physical embodiment and back.”

    Jason- How is this a “strawman?” A strawman is to misrepresent an argument in order to attack it,

    It changes the subject.

    It’s as if I said,

    “My foot is my foot, whether it’s as it is now, or whether it has been cut off and reattached.”

    And someone offered the counterargument:

    “It’s not your foot, because it’s wrong and painful to cut off a foot.”

    Jason

  295. sonicon 01 May 2013 at 12:56 pm

    BJ7-
    I’m sorry– I asked “Where are you?,” and you never said until I asked you a few times–then, after I gave you a hint to the possible answer you basically told me what I told you.
    Did I miss something there?

    And jasonnyberg’s answer involves two copies that are him– but he seems to agree there is only one him. So how many of him are there?

    Or did you miss the contradiction at the center of the reasoning?

    And he still hasn’t answered that completely– although it does appear that his last answer is beginning to acknowledge the difficulty–

    Perhaps you can answer the question-
    How many of you could there be at one time?
    And remember– I’m too stupid not to need an answer that is numeric. :-)

    jasonnyberg,
    It does seem the ‘duplicate’ scenario gives problems for the original.

    But that;s why we are discussing it– trying to understand the ramifications of the earlier construct– and at this point it seems we have reached a possible problem– on the one hand you seem to agree that each person is unique– but then it seems you have the idea there is more than one you at the same time.

    This is exactly the kind of thing that the fleshing out of the scenario is intended to produce.

    Your last reply indicates that you think there can be more than one of you at a time- yet I thought we agreed that you are unique…
    How many of you can there be at one time?

  296. jasonnybergon 01 May 2013 at 1:10 pm

    How many of you can there be at one time?

    sonic, I believe that this question has been answered to death from many different angles.

    Perhaps you can answer your own question by asking, in your imagination, each of the copies A) where they are, B) what their name is, C) who their parents are, and D) what their social security number is, E) how old they are, F) what their favorite color is, G) when and where they got that tattoo, H) where they live… Etc.

    You have some catching up to do.

    Jason

  297. ccbowerson 01 May 2013 at 1:39 pm

    “It changes the subject.”

    Hmm. Well I do not view it as a different subject as much as a different aspectof the same subject, and the purpose of doing so is not to weaken your argument but to clarify it. I am beginning to feel like some of the apparent disagreements are substanceless ones. I did not intend the pun, but I’ll leave it there.

  298. jasonnybergon 01 May 2013 at 1:56 pm

    “It changes the subject.”

    Hmm. Well I do not view it as a different subject as much as a different aspectof the same subject, and the purpose of doing so is not to weaken your argument but to clarify it. I am beginning to feel like some of the apparent disagreements are substanceless ones. I did not intend the pun, but I’ll leave it there.

    It sure is a tough way to sort out an apparent disagreement if one side is talking about A and the other side only wants to talk about B.

    That is why, over and over, I expressed my view that the technical issue of whether “you” are teleported into a reconstructed “you” is orthogonal to the ethical issue of how you treat the “original” if it is allowed to branch… If we want to get to the bottom of a complex topic, it’s nice to be able to focus on one thing at a time and not keep mixing them up.

    I’d still bet anything, that after all of this, that some here will still say “But you’re dead!”, even in the straight-up single unbranching continuity-maintained matter->information->matter cycle.

    Not you of course, having acknowledged that “continuity is preserved” “whether or not the vapouriser/duplicator malfunctioned.” Right? (This is just another way of saying, “What goes on in the black box doesn’t matter to the rest of the universe, even to the Person who went through the box.”)

    Jason

  299. BillyJoe7on 01 May 2013 at 5:46 pm

    I trust everyone understood that, when I said “continuity does not matter”, I was talking about physical continuity. All the atoms that make up your brain have changed, but there “you” still are in the copy.

  300. BillyJoe7on 01 May 2013 at 6:16 pm

    jasonnyberg–
    Wow–
    Your take down of sonic’s tactics is awesome…

    It has ever been thus.

    I’m not sure why I keep trying. Perhaps I think one day he’ll contribute instead of playing the rewind on questions that have been asked and answered or just generally playing the fool.
    And I must I’m pretty tired of his use of ambiguous smilies.
    I mean, is it a joke, is it sarcasm, is it ignorance, is he being condescending, is he hinting at something not understood, or is he just playing the fool to avoid serious decussion.
    You never quite know.

    sonic,

    The question you asked was answered before you even asked it, before you even entered the fray. You were a latecomer to the discussion, and if you didn’t bother catching up before posing answered questions, who’s fault is that? And, if you did, I don’t know what your excuse is. So I did finally answer the question that had already been answered and you simply ignored it and asked it again.

    It would help if you used the quote button every now and then, so that we all know what exactly you are addressing in your comments because, I have to tell you, you commentary here borders on the obscure. You’re the only one around here that I have to read several times in order to make some sense of what point you’re trying to make. If you want to emulate Chopra, that’s your loss, but if you want to be understood, please use straight language.

    And drop those damn smilies.

  301. jasonnybergon 01 May 2013 at 6:21 pm

    I trust everyone understood that, when I said “continuity does not matter”, I was talking about physical continuity. All the atoms that make up your brain have changed, but there “you” still are in the copy.

    I’m sure that most, if not all, of us are now on the same page that “continuity of consciousness” does not depend upon “continuity of material being”, and accept that your “sense of self” and even POV will be “tunneled through” the (material -> description-of-material -> material) sequence of transformations.

    Jason

  302. cogniteon 01 May 2013 at 6:22 pm

    Jason:

    The black box argument makes no sense. You could box up the whole earth and say that whatever is happening inside does not matter to the outside. That does not mean the inside would agree. The argument simply states that you dont think it matters to you.

    Claiming that materialsm dictates that vaporization does not matter as long as you make a copy of the vaporizee is a category mistake. Everything is made of particles and one electron is as good as any other electron. This does not mean that this scales to every level. I asume you people think continuity is an illusion to any mind wheter it teleports or not. This is where you are making an asumption based on low level descriptions of the world. It is not neccesarily true for every materialsit position.

    For one thing; mind is dependent on at least brain, body, world and time. A brain state does not make a mind. There would be no you without several consecutive brain states processing the interaction of the above. So either mind is only an illusion, which would lead to idealism, or your premise is flawed.

    No?

  303. Mlemaon 01 May 2013 at 7:04 pm

    Sonic,
    “…what if two brains were the same…one quickly realizes that two brains will always be in different locations and the main point of who “i” am is that “i am here”.

    I disagree that the main point of who I am is where I am. i am me whether I’m here or move somewhere else. I’m thinking if we can agree on what makes me me and you you, we’ll be able to figure out why we seem to be disagreeing about the rest.

    “You aren’t here and neither is anyone else– despite the fact that my brain becomes an exact duplicate of whomever I am communicating with — again– another ridiculous scenario to make a point.”

    What do you mean I’m not here? Can you please explain the question you’re asking me a little bit more – I’m not understanding too good. :/

    “It seems that when one gets into ‘multiple selves that are the same’… one is ignoring the key feature that makes us individuals–
    I am here and it is there– or one trys to say that this is an ‘illusion’ that ‘doesn’t matter’ while claiming that the ‘illusion’ will be exactly the same and ‘that’s all that matters’.”

    For the materialist: the illusion IS all that matters. (which admittedly is rather ironic – and is a separate and gigantic philosophical question that can’t be discussed here without eternal debate – which we’ve seen more than once on this site)

    It’s not so much the where as the what. Trying to conceptualize being two people is mentally impossible. Having two me’s is problematic. This is something that has to be dealt with in the teleporter scenario. But the question that will clarify the materialist’s philosophy is not “where am I” but “what am I”. If who you are is your physical self (as the materialist says) then any physical stuff in the same arrangement is you. And wherever that arrangement of physical stuff exists, that’s where you are. The materialist suggests that it’s physical stuff in a certain arrangement that generates the feeling you’re having that you exist “here”, so, if he can create that same arrangement over “here”, you will be over here!

    The information about how the physical you is “arranged” is fundamental to who you are, whether you’re a materialist or not. What is the nature of information? that is another philosophical question.

    another fundamental question (as Jason pointed out) is: choice. If I’m going to suddenly be two individuals, then, while I’m still one I have the choice as to how to conduct myself afterwards, no matter which one I am. I should be able to enter into some kind of contract with my future selves that will prevent me being two continuing selves. Or, better yet, I set up a contract that says: There will never be two individuals. Just one, me, now, who then becomes: one, me, now, again!

    “Anyway– it is one thing to make up scenarios to explore an area– and it is actually a good way to do the exploring.
    But when you make conclusions based on fantasy about what you are exploring that are false without recognizing the error– well now you are getting into my expertise”

    All I’m doing here is trying to illustrate why anyone who calls themselves a materialist, and says they’re not a dualist, should be able to get on board with the teleporter scenario. If a human is only physical stuff, arranged in a specific way, then any physical stuff arranged in that specific way is himself.

    Here;s what Dr. N said in his OP:
    “If you copy the information in your brain and then recreate it digitally, or in any form, such as an analog physical artificial brain, the new creation may think that it’s you, but it is again just a copy. Your consciousness has not “moved” – it cannot move, because it is your brain, not just the information.”

    those are not the words of a true materialist like BillyJoe. If consciousness is a function of the physical brain, then any physical brain exactly like the one belonging to Dr. N will be Dr. N. There’s nothing to “move”. He’s expressing a belief that there is something unique about a particular bunch of atoms arranged in a particular way – as opposed to – a different bunch of atoms arranged in the EXACT SAME WAY. Why? What is it that he believes would have to be moved? What does he think consciousness is that has to “move”? I have always heard him say that “consciousness is what the brain does” So, an exact physical duplicate of his brain would be “doing” consciousness in the exact same way – therefore – if self is a construct, or epiphenomenon, or function of the consciousness – he would be himself just the same.

    Dr. N also said:
    “Only the original carries forward your continuous consciousness. The other started it’s existence a moment ago, but has the memories of a past it never lived.”

    All anyone has of his past is his memories. What are memories? The materialist says: they’re physical. They exist as uniquely arranged matter. Therefore: whenever, and wherever matter is arranged in that unique way: those memories exist, and ARE a part of your continuous consciousness

    fundamental to the teleporter discussion are: information, and choice. We can’t just vaporize you here and expect you to show up on Mars. We have to have a way to translate you into information that can then for you to be translated back into you somewhere else. And you have to choose to have that done. And you have to choose to become these different instantiations of you at each point in time: I will be translated, I will be destroyed, i will be transmitted, I will be on Mars. You are the one being scanned, you are the one being destroyed, you are the one being re-established. Continuity!
    (in this, there is destruction of self. But we agree to this continuing destruction and re-establishment at all times we are living – including a sense of self that continually changes)

    If we want to support or condemn the materialist’s assumption of the physical world, that’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax. Again, I was just reacting to the contradictions between what self-proclaimed materialists are expressing, and what they claim they believe. I’m not defending the scientific probability of teleportation or what it would entail. And I’m not defending materialism. So, within what I’m saying, am I making any better sense to you? i hope so :)

  304. Mlemaon 01 May 2013 at 7:05 pm

    Jason, thank you for the compliment :)

    and for the contribution of “choice”

  305. jasonnybergon 01 May 2013 at 9:43 pm

    The black box argument makes no sense. You could box up the whole earth and say that whatever is happening inside does not matter to the outside. That does not mean the inside would agree. The argument simply states that you dont think it matters to you.

    Have you ever heard about the concept of a “black box” before? Hint: It is a widely-applied conceptual tool that I did not invent…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_box
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_box_theory

    In short, if you have to break open my black box (As you do when you say, “That does not mean the inside would agree”) to defeat my black box argument, you have lost the argument.

    Claiming that materialsm dictates that vaporization does not matter as long as you make a copy of the vaporizee is a category mistake. Everything is made of particles and one electron is as good as any other electron. This does not mean that this scales to every level. I asume you people think continuity is an illusion to any mind wheter it teleports or not. This is where you are making an asumption based on low level descriptions of the world. It is not neccesarily true for every materialsit position.

    I’ve been very specific in describing my position. There is no specificity whatsoever in your reply, I can’t do anything with it. For instance, what materialist position does not recognize that the mind is a product of material brain function? Are you invoking “quantum uncertainty”?

    For one thing; mind is dependent on at least brain, body, world and time. A brain state does not make a mind. There would be no you without several consecutive brain states processing the interaction of the above. So either mind is only an illusion, which would lead to idealism, or your premise is flawed.

    No?

    No.

    You’re quibbling over unspecified, minute details of a made up, imaginary scenario.

    Don’t you know that my imaginary scanner is capable of recording the perfect instantaneous brain arrangement and the instantaneous rate of change in it’s arrangement?

    Jason

  306. ccbowerson 01 May 2013 at 10:01 pm

    “That is why, over and over, I expressed my view that the technical issue of whether “you” are teleported into a reconstructed “you” is orthogonal to the ethical issue of how you treat the “original” if it is allowed to branch… If we want to get to the bottom of a complex topic, it’s nice to be able to focus on one thing at a time and not keep mixing them up.”

    Honestly this is the main issue I am curious about. I am not trying to change the subject here for argument strategy, but this is what I want to know from you: Why do you feel (or do you?) that these are two separate and unrelated issues?

    Since you are making these statements I must conclude that you think that “branching” makes a qualititative difference (either that or you view copying as fundamentally different than being transported). What in your view is the difference… Aren’t they both matter –> information –> matter? Does the passage of 1 nanosecond of time that it may take for the branching to occur really fundamentally change what you think of the senario?

  307. Ditheiton 01 May 2013 at 10:30 pm

    BillyJoe7-

    When there is knowledge by “you” who is the original and who is the copy, that adds a psychological element that in no way impacts on the above argument.

    I agree. It doesn’t change that both desperately want to survive. You also acknowledge that right here-

    And, no, neither of you will want to lose that contest.

    But you don’t seem to care that one person dies. Do you agree that they are two individuals with separate experiences? If so, wouldn’t you care if you were the one that lost?

    You went to sleep at last night and you woke up in the morning.
    The above statement applies whether or not the vapouriser/duplicator malfunctioned.
    How is this not self evident?

    This is not self evident. You actually didn’t state what happened accurately. One individual went to sleep and died. One individual woke up who was indistinguishable from the other, even to him. But that is irrelevant from the original’s perspective. To understand why, it is as easy as imagining the original was whisked away to Canada instead of vaporized.

    You go to sleep tonight. You are whisked away to Canada. Your duplicate wakes up in your place. Are you (the BillyJoe7 that I’m talking to) experiencing Canada or your bedroom in this scenario? I know there is another BillyJoe7 that would tell me they’re experiencing the bedroom.

    Mlema-

    For the materialist: the illusion IS all that matters.

    Actually, you are talking to several materialists that disagree. Which individual I am matters.

    . Trying to conceptualize being two people is mentally impossible.

    Again, no one can be two people. There are two separate people and you are one of them. They both have their own experiences even if they started out with identical brain states.

    All I’m doing here is trying to illustrate why anyone who calls themselves a materialist, and says they’re not a dualist, should be able to get on board with the teleporter scenario. If a human is only physical stuff, arranged in a specific way, then any physical stuff arranged in that specific way is himself.

    Actually, no. I wouldn’t use a transporter because it is the equivalent of my death.

    What sets the original and the copy apart is their unique perspective. The original is on their computer (you) and the copy is on the Enterprise.

    He’s expressing a belief that there is something unique about a particular bunch of atoms arranged in a particular way – as opposed to – a different bunch of atoms arranged in the EXACT SAME WAY. Why?

    Because when your copy has an itch on the Enterprise, you don’t sitting at your computer. They’re two individuals with their own perspective. You don’t feel what they feel.

    The materialist says: they’re physical. They exist as uniquely arranged matter. Therefore: whenever, and wherever matter is arranged in that unique way: those memories exist, and ARE a part of your continuous consciousness

    No, if you make a copy there are two separate consciousnesses. You don’t feel what your copy feels on the Enterprise. You know how I know? I made a copy of you on the Enterprise and I just saw them stub their toe. You didn’t feel a thing.

    If we want to support or condemn the materialist’s assumption of the physical world, that’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax.

    I’m pretty sure we’re all materialists here. Our understanding of the continuity problem does not entail dualism in any way, shape or form.

  308. Mlemaon 01 May 2013 at 10:48 pm

    ccbowers, do this thought experiment with me (if you would):

    you and i both have cancer in our bodies, except for our brains. We’re at a very very advanced clinic together. We have agreed to undergo a treatment wherein, in order to remove the cancer, we’ll have every atom in our bodies replaced by different atoms. Except for the atoms making up the cancer. The only way for this therapy to work is for it to replace every properly placed atom. (the cancer atoms are “improperly placed” – and will simply not be replaced with our other atoms)

    We go to sleep for about ten minutes. When we wake up, the cancer is gone. We haven’t moved from where we were ten minutes ago. Are we still the same people we were, minus cancer? Why or why not?

    Then, what if when each atom was replaced it was moved a few inches towards the north pole. Now, are we still the same people when we wake up? Why or why not?

    here’s a little bit different scenario: we replace one atom in your body in this minute – are you still you? we replace another atom in your body the next minute – still you? three atoms, four, etc. At what point are you not you anymore (if ever)? If you agree that you’re still you when we replace your atoms in this way – then why are you destroyed if we replace them all at once?

    the materialist would say that replacing the atoms in your body with identical atoms would not kill you.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Materialism
    and would also not agree that something has to “move over” into the body made out of identical atoms in order for you to continue to be you.

  309. Mlemaon 01 May 2013 at 10:52 pm

    Ditheit,

    here is one question posed by the teleporter scenario:

    is it possible to be more than one person at a time?

    You can answer that question with a yes or a no without revealing whether you are a materialist or not. You and everybody else i know would say: no.

    If you would be willing to do the thought experiment I just posed for cc bowers, maybe we can decide whether you’re really a materialist or not.
    I’m no authority, but it’s really not that hard if we just use the definition on wikipedia

    this is just for fun and learning for both of us – no right or wrong

  310. jasonnybergon 01 May 2013 at 11:05 pm

    Since you are making these statements I must conclude that you think that “branching” makes a qualititative difference (either that or you view copying as fundamentally different than being transported). What in your view is the difference… Aren’t they both matter –> information –> matter? Does the passage of 1 nanosecond of time that it may take for the branching to occur really fundamentally change what you think of the senario?

    I don’t consider a 1ns branch to be significant. It’s far below the limits of human perception, for one thing… Not enough time to accumulate any new experiences.

    No, it’s the scenarios proposed by folks like Ditheit and sonic where the short-timer branch of the consciousness is allowed to develop to the point where it’s aware of its own imminent demise. I, like I imagine most people, would consider this to be unnecessarily cruel and traumatic. I also believe that empathy for this individual’s trauma is the exact reason the “but you DIE” crowd posit this scenario… Because it is intuitively unsettling.

    But this unsettling scenario is avoidable. Just like the unsettling prospect of consciously experiencing your own open-heart surgery is avoidable.

    If I knew a-priori that, immediately after being scanned, I’d have to actually FACE MY OWN DEATH (as one of two branches of my consciousness), then I would certainly think twice about using the transporter, even if I knew my surviving branch would not have to experience it. Just like I might think twice about undergoing open-heart surgery if I had to be awake during the procedure.

    (On the other hand, knowing I have a backup copy waiting in the wings might actually make me treat my own life a little more recklessly. Live life closer to the edge. I might take up free-climbing, push a little harder through that corner on my motorcycle, or hold off for another few moments before surrendering to a tight rear-naked choke… Choice! Options!)

    Now notice:

    During NONE of this post have I said ANYTHING about the identity of the path of consciousness that extends through the “intended to survive” branch, or anything about its POV, or whether it’s continuous or not. That technical issue is orthogonal to the ethical issues of how to deal with a “unwanted” branch of my consciousness that was allowed to develop, or whether it’s ethical to even allow that branch to be created in the first place against the wishes of the owner of the consciousness.

    Bottom line is: It’s my consciousness. NOBODY HAS PERMISSION TO MAKE A DUPLICATE OF ME, much less a copy me to force the copy to experience its own death. I see the murder of a copy of myself to be an orthogonal issue to the question of whether my consciousness is represented or not within the information derived from a “perfect scan” of my material self.

    I hope this has helped you to better understand my position…

    Jason

  311. Mlemaon 01 May 2013 at 11:34 pm

    Jason, you’d have to have your “information” backed up very frequently in order to prevent loss of experience between back-ups (if you were going to use this as death-prevention)

  312. Ditheiton 01 May 2013 at 11:35 pm

    Mlema-

    We go to sleep for about ten minutes. When we wake up, the cancer is gone. We haven’t moved from where we were ten minutes ago. Are we still the same people we were, minus cancer? Why or why not?

    I’m not sure. To everyone else, we’re obviously the same person. I can’t say if I would survive this process or not because I don’t know enough about it. Even if I did, I’m not sure if I could say either way.

    Then, what if when each atom was replaced it was moved a few inches towards the north pole. Now, are we still the same people when we wake up? Why or why not?

    Okay, now I can say that I would be dead. The process you have described here involves one individual being disassembled (death) and another individual being assembled at another location. If you are using the same process in clinic, I will have died.

    here’s a little bit different scenario: we replace one atom in your body in this minute – are you still you? we replace another atom in your body the next minute – still you? three atoms, four, etc. At what point are you not you anymore (if ever)? If you agree that you’re still you when we replace your atoms in this way – then why are you destroyed if we replace them all at once?

    I do not know where the demarcation would be. This doesn’t mean that one exists or that one doesn’t. You are, however, clearly killed when you get shot in the head. It doesn’t matter if you have a thousand perfect copies on Alpha Centauri. To see that it doesn’t matter, imagine that I could have made those copies five minutes ago- you wouldn’t even know it. This as a crucial difference between them and you.

    and would also not agree that something has to “move over” into the body made out of identical atoms in order for you to continue to be you.

    No, there is nothing to “move over”. If you believe there is such a thing, I would be very interested to hear what that “something” is.

    is it possible to be more than one person at a time?

    No, it is a contradiction of terms. A person is an individual with experiences of their own. You can’t be two individuals any more than a circle could be square.

    If you would be willing to do the thought experiment I just posed for cc bowers, maybe we can decide whether you’re really a materialist or not.

    Actually, I’m pretty sure you’ve already decided what the answer to this question is. I’m yet to be convinced that this has anything to do with materialism.

  313. jasonnybergon 01 May 2013 at 11:52 pm

    Ditheit,

    You went to sleep at last night and you woke up in the morning.
    The above statement applies whether or not the vapouriser/duplicator malfunctioned.
    How is this not self evident?

    This is not self evident. You actually didn’t state what happened accurately. One individual went to sleep and died. One individual woke up who was indistinguishable from the other, even to him. But that is irrelevant from the original’s perspective. To understand why, it is as easy as imagining the original was whisked away to Canada instead of vaporized.
    You go to sleep tonight. You are whisked away to Canada. Your duplicate wakes up in your place. Are you (the BillyJoe7 that I’m talking to) experiencing Canada or your bedroom in this scenario? I know there is another BillyJoe7 that would tell me they’re experiencing the bedroom.

    LOL, in one breath you’re saying “they’re indistinguishable from each other, even to him.” In the next, you’re positing a branching consciousness and using the differences you introduce in your “debunking” of the linear mind-line.

    You’re using a branching topology to make an emotional argument against the technical consequences of a linear matter->information->matter sequence of transformations.

    Actually, no. I wouldn’t use a transporter because it is the equivalent of my death.

    Only the experiences you accumulate after being scanned by the transporter “die”, everything in your life up to that point is contained in the information produced by the scan.

    The “you” represented in that information is immortal. It contains the keys to your resurrection. Perhaps this wouldn’t be important to the “glass half-empty” type…

    Jason

    PS: Do you know what a tautology is?

    You’re saying that identical copies of something,
    * that are allowed to diverge
    * are different from each other.

    It is not very informative or interesting. Trust us when we say you are missing the point with this argument.

  314. Mlemaon 02 May 2013 at 12:03 am

    “I’m not sure. To everyone else, we’re obviously the same person. I can’t say if I would survive this process or not because I don’t know enough about it. Even if I did, I’m not sure if I could say either way.”

    honest answer. What do you need to know about the process in order to know if you would survive it?
    If you can’t say either way, that in itself is a legitimate answer. You’re saying that you’re just not sure if the you that woke up would still be you. But I think I can tell you: if you could answer: yes, it would still be me, then: you are a materialist.

    “Okay, now I can say that I would be dead. The process you have described here involves one individual being disassembled (death) and another individual being assembled at another location.”

    No, not disassembled. Just one atom after another replaced 3 inches north of where it was until you are moved in your entirety. You have not been copied wholesale. There was never more than one of each atom of your body at a time. Each one was replaced and moved a little. Not one individual, then another – just one atom here and then another exact atom very close to it.

    “I do not know where the demarcation would be. This doesn’t mean that one exists or that one doesn’t. You are, however, clearly killed when you get shot in the head. It doesn’t matter if you have a thousand perfect copies on Alpha Centauri. To see that it doesn’t matter, imagine that I could have made those copies five minutes ago- you wouldn’t even know it. This as a crucial difference between them and you.”

    another great honest answer. But until you can decide where the demarcation is, we really don’t know what you believe yourself to be, and whether or not you believe that it’s just physical stuff arranged in a certain way that makes you “you”. Yes, I’m killed if i get shot in the head. But the critical question is: at what point am I killed if you just replace each atom in my body one at a time?

    “No, there is nothing to “move over”. If you believe there is such a thing, I would be very interested to hear what that “something” is.”

    you say there is nothing to “move over”. But you don’t want to have your body moved a few inches, with it’s atoms replaced one by one – which sounds like you think there’s something that’s not going to move when we do that. The atoms now existing a few inches from where identical atoms were sitting doesn’t “contain” you – what is it that’s not contained? Why do you believe this killed you?

    “No, it is a contradiction of terms. A person is an individual with experiences of their own. You can’t be two individuals any more than a circle could be square.”

    yes, we can only try to imagine it. But we can’t really imagine it. And it doesn’t matter for deciding whether or not we are materialists. What matters to answer that question is: what am I here? what makes me me? A copy of me isn’t me if I’m me here and now.

    “Actually, I’m pretty sure you’ve already decided what the answer to this question is. I’m yet to be convinced that this has anything to do with materialism.”

    from wikipedia:
    “In philosophy, the theory of materialism holds that the only thing that exists is matter or energy; that all things are composed of material and all phenomena (including consciousness) are the result of material interactions. In other words, matter is the only substance, and reality is identical with the actually occurring states of energy and matter.”

    according to this philosophy: you (your conscious sense of being who and what you are) is identical with the actually occurring state of energy and matter. Therefore, any time a state of matter and energy occurs that is exactly like the one that is your conscious sense of being who and what you are, you exist! Theoretically, by this theory, there CAN be two yous, but only at one point in time – if there are two of you past that one point in time – they are then two distinct individuals because the state of energy and matter is constantly changing, and the two of you would be instantly different one you began to exist.

  315. jasonnybergon 02 May 2013 at 12:05 am

    I’m not sure. To everyone else, we’re obviously the same person. I can’t say if I would survive this process or not because I don’t know enough about it. Even if I did, I’m not sure if I could say either way.

    You’ve already answered your own question. If it’s “obvious” to everyone else that “we’re the same person”, i.e. you can’t devise an experiment that can tell them apart, including querying your own consciousness for discrepencies in your own subjective experiences, then A) you’ve survived, and B) it’s “you.”

    Jason

  316. Mlemaon 02 May 2013 at 12:07 am

    “Theoretically, by this theory…”
    My words are getting ahead of me

    I should read what I write BEFORE I post it :)

  317. Ditheiton 02 May 2013 at 12:16 am

    LOL, in one breath you’re saying “they’re indistinguishable from each other, even to him.” In the next, you’re positing a branching consciousness and using the differences you introduce in your “debunking” of the linear mind-line.
    You’re using a branching topology to make an emotional argument against the technical consequences of a linear matter->information->matter sequence of transformations.

    All I’ve stated is that the copy (and the rest of the universe) wouldn’t know he was the copy. They’re indistinguishable. But the original would still be dead. Heck, he could be on Mars and the copy wouldn’t know. They’re two separate individuals even if they’re identical. There’s a difference between identical and the same. Steve already explained this above.

    Only the experiences you accumulate after being scanned by the transporter “die”, everything in your life up to that point is contained in the information produced by the scan.
    The “you” represented in that information is immortal. It contains the keys to your resurrection. Perhaps this wouldn’t be important to the “glass half-empty” type…

    Experiences don’t die, individuals do. There are two individuals, not a single individual with experiences from two separate locations.

    PS: Do you know what a tautology is?
    You’re saying that identical copies of something,
    * that are allowed to diverge
    * are different from each other.
    It is not very informative or interesting. Trust us when we say you are missing the point with this argument.

    Trust us (ccbowers, Steven Novella, etc) when we say you’re missing the point with this argument. I could say that with the same conviction as you. It’s just a really condescending and oblivious thing to say.

  318. Mlemaon 02 May 2013 at 12:26 am

    Experiences don’t die?
    that is not the materialist philosophy. in Materialism, when the individual dies, or the matter that was arranged in a certain way in order to physically encode the experience becomes disarranged – the experience is dead. You’ve experienced things that you can’t remember. Those experiences are dead.

    let’s go back to one example that we didn’t complete:

    you’re sitting at your computer right now. Your whole body begins to vibrate, then splits into two identical individuals. Which one is you? The materialist would say: they are both me, but existing in two different places at the same time. In a moment they will each have physically changed and will be two individuals. According to materialism they are both you the moment they come into existence, and then become two yous with different experiences. Not possible to imagine, but there it is. That is the materialist’s take on splitting into two identical selves.

  319. Ditheiton 02 May 2013 at 12:28 am

    Mlema-

    honest answer. What do you need to know about the process in order to know if you would survive it?
    If you can’t say either way, that in itself is a legitimate answer. You’re saying that you’re just not sure if the you that woke up would still be you. But I think I can tell you: if you could answer: yes, it would still be me, then: you are a materialist.

    Steve already answered this, see the comment – Steven Novella on 25 Apr 2013 at 10:36 am.

    No, not disassembled.

    When I remove one block from a lego structure and put it three inches to my left, I’m disassembling it.

    But until you can decide where the demarcation is, we really don’t know what you believe yourself to be, and whether or not you believe that it’s just physical stuff arranged in a certain way that makes you “you”.

    This is the false continuum logical fallacy, see the post above, it’s been covered.

    The atoms now existing a few inches from where identical atoms were sitting doesn’t “contain” you – what is it that’s not contained? Why do you believe this killed you?

    To see what is not contained, imagine I create a copy out of whole cloth on the Enterprise. It’s not me in the sense that I’m not seeing, feeling or hearing what the copy is. It is its own individual. It doesn’t have my perspective here on Earth. That’s what is missing.

    A copy of me isn’t me if I’m me here and now.

    Correct.

    they are then two distinct individuals because the state of energy and matter is constantly changing

    Whoa, wait a minute. Making a copy of one individual means there are now two individuals. You don’t think there are two individuals in the transporter problem?

  320. Ditheiton 02 May 2013 at 12:30 am

    Experiences don’t die?

    Experiences aren’t alive, how can they die? People are alive. People can die.

    let’s go back to one example that we didn’t complete:

    Not yet. We’re not even close to visiting a grey area where possibly the brain is continuous and possibly it isn’t. We can’t even agree that there is death when there is an obvious discontinuity.

  321. Mlemaon 02 May 2013 at 12:41 am

    Steve didn’t answer these questions. And what Steve did say presents the same problems if he’s going to call himself a materialist. You have to try to answer these questions yourself, and then, by reading the definition of materialism, compare your answers to those a materialist would give. If you trust that there’s anyone here who understands the definition of materialism, that person could help you make those comparisons. You don’t seem to believe that I’m that person, so I can’t really offer you any help.

    It doesn’t really matter how you feel about the transporter thought experiment. If you don’t want to get in the transporter, that’s fine and I totally understand it. But you can’t defend your choice by saying: I will no longer exist IF you are truly a materialist.

    That’s my assessment and I can make no other. But I have had a blast talking with you.

    just saw your last post:
    “We’re not even close to visiting a grey area where possibly the brain is continuous and possibly it isn’t. We can’t even agree that there is death when there is an obvious discontinuity.”

    Can you pose a question that you think I could answer that would help you understand what I’m trying to say? I’m willing to answer. But I’m losing hope that we’ll ever be on the same page in our understanding of what materialism is. Maybe you could try to tell me in your own words: what is materialism?

  322. Mlemaon 02 May 2013 at 12:56 am

    “We can’t even agree that there is death when there is an obvious discontinuity.”

    To you there is an obvious discontinuity. But to the materialist there is no discontinuity because: there has never been an end or beginning in the existence of what makes you YOU, which is: a specific state of matter and energy AND THAT IS ALL. So, as long as there is always THE specific state of matter and energy that is YOU, then YOU never had any discontinuity.

  323. Ditheiton 02 May 2013 at 12:58 am

    You have to try to answer these questions yourself, and then, by reading the definition of materialism, compare your answers to those a materialist would give.

    Where do I propose something other than the physical constituting what it means to be you?

    But you can’t defend your choice by saying: I will no longer exist IF you are truly a materialist.

    Yes, I believe you can and that I have done just that.

    That’s my assessment and I can make no other. But I have had a blast talking with you.

    No doubt, I love a good nerd discussion.

    what is materialism?

    I agree with the wiki definition. This works for me- “…matter is the only substance, and reality is identical with the actually occurring states of energy and matter.”

    But I’m losing hope that we’ll ever be on the same page in our understanding of what materialism is.

    Where does my view on the transporter problem conflict with this definition?

    Can you pose a question that you think I could answer that would help you understand what I’m trying to say?

    Do “you” experience what your identical copy is experiencing on Mars? By you, I mean the you sitting in front of the computer, reading my comment.

  324. Ditheiton 02 May 2013 at 1:06 am

    To you there is an obvious discontinuity. But to the materialist there is no discontinuity because: there has never been an end or beginning in the existence of what makes you YOU, which is: a specific state of matter and energy AND THAT IS ALL. So, as long as there is always THE specific state of matter and energy that is YOU, then YOU never had any discontinuity.

    That’s not all there is to being “you”. You also have a perspective, a physical substrate (your brain). Remember that you don’t see what your Mars copy is seeing right now. I know you don’t because I made a copy of you on Mars 10 minutes ago and you didn’t even notice. It has everything but your perspective.

  325. Ditheiton 02 May 2013 at 1:10 am

    Also, I hate to triple post, but it is not out of line to state that there is an obvious discontinuity. It doesn’t matter if you’re a dualist or a materialist. The definition of discontinuity is clear enough that there is a discontinuity in this situation. “A distinct break in physical continuity or sequence in time.”

    It is disingenuous to deny that.

  326. Mlemaon 02 May 2013 at 1:10 am

    I’m going to try to hone in on this:

    “matter is the only substance, and reality is identical with the actually occurring states of energy and matter.”

    STATES of energy and matter. There is no YOU that is identical to the atoms of your body without the STATE in which they exist. Identical atoms in the same STATE is YOU. If we just take all your atoms and put them in a pile, that is indeed disassembled and it is not you. But when they are assembled, they are you. And it doesn’t matter where, when or how we assemble them, as long as we assemble them to match the state that is you.

  327. Mlemaon 02 May 2013 at 1:12 am

    “all things are composed of material and all phenomena (including consciousness) are the result of material interactions”

    as long as those interactions are the ones occurring as your body, then it’s you that’s whenever and wherever they are occuring.

  328. Mlemaon 02 May 2013 at 1:17 am

    ” The definition of discontinuity is clear enough that there is a discontinuity in this situation”

    no, there has been any discontinuity to the materialist because: the state of matter and energy that is you has never stopped existing.

  329. Ditheiton 02 May 2013 at 1:22 am

    Identical atoms in the same STATE is YOU.

    Here’s the problem. Identical atoms in the same state as “you” is not “you” in the sense that you’re experiencing what that individual is experiencing. The physical substrate- the brain- is critical to producing the experience that you’re experiencing now.

    And it doesn’t matter where, when or how we assemble them, as long as we assemble them to match the state that is you.

    Yes, it actually does matter. You know how I know? Because I made an identical copy of you on Alpha Centauri 10 minutes ago. You don’t feel any different. You have something that copy doesn’t- see what it is? It’s just that you’re not the copy- you don’t see Alpha Centauri right now, do you? You’re two individuals experiencing different things. You’re the one experiencing this (hopefully not too draining) conversation. They’re experiencing something different. Agree or disagree?

  330. Ditheiton 02 May 2013 at 1:24 am

    the state of matter and energy that is you has never stopped existing.

    My brain stopped existing for 1 second, say, and was reconstructed on the Enterprise. Do we now have a discontinuity?

  331. Mlemaon 02 May 2013 at 1:40 am

    “Identical atoms in the same state as “you” is not “you” (it is to a materialist) in the sense that you’re experiencing what that individual is experiencing. (which individual?) The physical substrate- the brain- is critical to producing the experience that you’re experiencing now. (yes, that is what the materialist is saying ALONG WITH: as long as we have a physically identical brain, the experiences that I’m experiencing now will be produced)

    “Yes, it actually does matter. You know how I know? Because I made an identical copy of you on Alpha Centauri 10 minutes ago. You don’t feel any different. You have something that copy doesn’t- see what it is? It’s just that you’re not the copy- you don’t see Alpha Centauri right now, do you? You’re two individuals experiencing different things. You’re the one experiencing this (hopefully not too draining) conversation. They’re experiencing something different. Agree or disagree?”

    Agree: They are experiencing something different because they are two distinct individuals in two different places. You’re not going to solve the materialist question if you insist on pressing the two individuals vs one individual. A materialist would say: for one brief moment I would be two exact selves in two different places and the next moment I would be two distinct individuals with all the same memories and feelings I had a moment ago, but life would continue unbeknownst to the other self. If you would entertain the problem of you splitting into two equal selves right now in front of your computer, you might begin to conceptualize what this question really is.

    “My brain stopped existing for 1 second, say, and was reconstructed on the Enterprise. Do we now have a discontinuity?”
    yes, you have discontinuity for 1 second, in the same way you have discontinuity for one second if you dose off for one second – but NOT discontinuity in any other way that would be relevant to a materialist.

  332. Ditheiton 02 May 2013 at 1:49 am

    A materialist would say: for one brief moment I would be two exact selves in two different places and the next moment I would be two distinct individuals with all the same memories and feelings I had a moment ago, but life would continue unbeknownst to the other self. If you would entertain the problem of you splitting into two equal selves right now in front of your computer, you might begin to conceptualize what this question really is.

    You realize that you’re the self that’s on Earth, right? And that’s what it means to be an individual, right?

    in the same way you have discontinuity for one second if you dose off for one second – but NOT discontinuity in any other way that would be relevant to a materialist.

    Actually, the difference between sleeping and having your brain vaporized is very large. Equivocating the two is a giant leap. You are simply asserting that it isn’t relevant to “a materialist”. Just a heads up, you don’t represent the materialist view any more than I do as we are both materialists. I could preface everything I say with “a materialist would say…” too. It’s just bad form.

  333. jasonnybergon 02 May 2013 at 2:07 am

    Ditheit,

    Only the experiences you accumulate after being scanned by the transporter “die”, everything in your life up to that point is contained in the information produced by the scan.
    The “you” represented in that information is immortal. It contains the keys to your resurrection. Perhaps this wouldn’t be important to the “glass half-empty” type…

    Experiences don’t die, individuals do. There are two individuals, not a single individual with experiences from two separate locations.

    Oh brother… Now you’re just playing word games; either subconsciously missing the point or consciously avoiding it.

    It should be clear by now, if you’ve been paying attention to the evolution of this thread or even if you read the text above with a mind towards understanding the other side of the debate that’s ongoing, that I’m talking about the state of your material being including your brain and the memories encoded within it.

    PS: Do you know what a tautology is?
    You’re saying that identical copies of something,
    * that are allowed to diverge
    * are different from each other.
    It is not very informative or interesting. Trust us when we say you are missing the point with this argument.

    Trust us (ccbowers, Steven Novella, etc) when we say you’re missing the point with this argument. I could say that with the same conviction as you.

    Yet I’m not basing my argument on a tautological strawman.

    (If you have been paying attention to the thread, it should not be a mystery why I call your argument a “strawman”.)

    Jason

  334. Mlemaon 02 May 2013 at 2:08 am

    “You realize that you’re the self that’s on Earth, right? And that’s what it means to be an individual, right?”

    No, in this problem, I am, at the moment I’m duplicated, one person (one unique, but duplicated state of matter and energy) in two places. The next moment I begin to be two people who share one history of matter/energy states, but must now experience matter/energy states that will not be the same.

    I said: in the same way you have discontinuity for one second if you dose off for one second – but NOT discontinuity in any other way that would be relevant to a materialist.

    you: “Actually, the difference between sleeping and having your brain vaporized is very large. Equivocating the two is a giant leap.”

    from wikipedia:
    “all things are composed of material and all phenomena (including consciousness) are the result of material interactions”

    Because consciousness (according to the materialist) is a phenomenon resulting from material interactions, it can exist wherever the right material interactions are occurring. Sleeping is a temporary suspension of the sense that you exist as yourself. So, in the world of a materialist, if your “brain stopped existing for 1 second, say, and was reconstructed on the Enterprise.” you would temporarily not be aware of yourself, and then, the next second you would be aware of
    yourself, just as when you go to sleep and wake up one second later. The discontinuity of the organization of your particular atoms would be irrelevant as long as they were reconstructed in the same way 1 second later. You would be you in every way that you are you right now, except you’d be on the Enterprise.

    “You are simply asserting that it isn’t relevant to “a materialist”. Just a heads up, you don’t represent the materialist view any more than I do as we are both materialists. I could preface everything I say with “a materialist would say…” too. It’s just bad form.”"

    Why don’t you try it and we’ll see if it lines up to the definition on Wikipedia?

  335. Mlemaon 02 May 2013 at 2:09 am

    If you’re frustrated with me, remember, I did say that I sensed you didn’t think I was the person who could help you with this.

  336. Ditheiton 02 May 2013 at 2:31 am

    jasonnyberg, I don’t see how any responses I could make would be productive. Thanks for the conversation, I really did enjoy it. I hope you understand that I’m not trying to be underhanded or am trying to play word games with you.

    Yet I’m not basing my argument on a tautological strawman.

    I’ve got no hard feelings, thanks for the conversation, but we’re probably at the limit of productive exchange.

    Mlema- I still think there’s something I can learn from this. My only frustration is that I am unable to communicate my ideas as well as I would like.

    No, in this problem, I am, at the moment I’m duplicated, one person (one unique, but duplicated state of matter and energy) in two places.

    Okay, here’s my disagreement. No, you didn’t even know that I made a copy of you on the Enterprise. You’re not experiencing what they’re experiencing. If you were, you’d be able to tell me what it’s like on the Enterprise. You can’t even though I literally made a copy of you there 10 minutes ago. Don’t gloss over the point that “I literally made a copy of you”. It’s critical. I could have and you wouldn’t know. Yes?

    The next moment I begin to be two people who share one history of matter/energy states, but must now experience matter/energy states that will not be the same.

    I’m certain that this is an incorrect interpretation of the situation. See above; you don’t experience both, you’re the one on Earth. Again, you literally wouldn’t know if I made a copy of you, right? Please answer the following question: would you know if I made a copy of you on Mars? I’m not asking you a deep, philosophical question. I’m asking if *you*, the person reading this message, would feel any different if I made a perfect copy of you on Mars. Yes or no.

    You would be you in every way that you are you right now, except you’d be on the Enterprise.

    Right, from the perspective of the copy on the Enterprise. But no, this is wrong if you think *you*, the *you* that is on Earth, would experience the Enterprise. Because you’re not on the Enterprise, you’re in front of your computer. I see the sticking point, it’s right here. It’s always been right here.

    “all things are composed of material and all phenomena (including consciousness) are the result of material interactions”

    Right. But there are two brains making two separate consciousnesses. Each experiences a unique perspective. You are one of those perspectives.

    I just don’t know of another sequence of words to make you see it how I see it. I totally see how you’re thinking the exact same thing right now. Ironic, yes? :)

  337. jasonnybergon 02 May 2013 at 2:41 am

    Ditheist,

    My brain stopped existing for 1 second, say, and was reconstructed on the Enterprise. Do we now have a discontinuity?

    This exact question has been addressed ad-nauseum in the thread. Did you miss it?

    To answer the question, you have to define how the reconstruction was performed.

    The only way the reconstruction could be performed is if a description of the material being at a specific point in time was created and transmitted to the remote location.

    CONTAINED IN THIS INFORMATION IS EVERYTHING THAT MAKES YOU YOU AT THE MOMENT OF THE SCAN. (I.e. materialism.)

    The thoughts that were percolating through your brain at the moment of the scan would be captured in that information, the description of your material being. There would be descriptions of signals from your sensory apparatuses winding their way through your nervous system contained in this information, captured in flight.

    Within this hypothetical scenario, an instantaneous description of your physical being would contain the information required to generate a reproduction of “you”, captured in space and time, at the moment you were scanned.

    Everything that makes you you, including your magical point of view, would be LITERALLY tunneled through the the communication medium used to transport the information describing you at the moment you were scanned from location A to location B.

    During the time spent in this “pure information” phase of your existence, everything about you would be perfectly, “digitally” preserved, including the thoughts and perceptions that were in-flight at the moment you were scanned.

    At location B, this information would (in this scenario) be used to reconstruct a precise copy of the physical state of your body at the moment you were scanned. You’d presumably be “restarted”, and your physical existence would then resume exactly where it left off, including the train of thought you were having.

    For a moment, you’d be seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling, thinking, moving, breathing, burping, farting, digesting, etc. etc. etc. exactly as if someone hit the “play” button on your physical being. You wouldn’t even start perceiving the light entering your reconstructed eyeballs for several milliseconds; The signals travelling through your optic nerves from your old location will still be propagating through your nervous system!

    Even though there has been a physical, material discontinuity, There is NO discontinuity from the perspective of the consciousness. One moment they were at position A, the next, they were at B.

    Do you need any more detail? Will you even read this? Or will you simply start talking about the original who has diverged from the moment of scan at point A again?

    Jason

  338. Ditheiton 02 May 2013 at 2:45 am

    CONTAINED IN THIS INFORMATION IS EVERYTHING THAT MAKES YOU YOU AT THE MOMENT OF THE SCAN. (I.e. materialism.)

    Just missing one thing. My physical brain.

  339. Ditheiton 02 May 2013 at 2:48 am

    Everything that makes you you, including your magical point of view, would be LITERALLY tunneled through the the communication medium used to transport the information describing you at the moment you were scanned from location A to location B.

    This is literally dualism.

  340. jasonnybergon 02 May 2013 at 3:26 am
    CONTAINED IN THIS INFORMATION IS EVERYTHING THAT MAKES YOU YOU AT THE MOMENT OF THE SCAN. (I.e. materialism.)

    Just missing one thing. My physical brain.

    It’s there, you just don’t recognize it.

    It’s in the blueprint that is capable of making the reconstruction. According to your previous posts, even you accept, for the sake of the scenario, that the reconstruction is indistinguishable from the original.

    I think, but I may be wrong, that you’ve said that even the duplicate wouldn’t be aware of a discontinuity. (Perhaps you could clarify.)

    (Note that NOBODY is claiming that there’s some kind of psychic connection between the Original Person and the Reconstructed Person. That duplicates diverge has been universally acknowledged in this thread.)

    Perhaps you think that we’re saying that once the duplicate is constructed, that we’re claiming the original can then overlay their “self” onto the duplicate and start living “in their shoes?”

    We’re not claiming this.

    Perhaps you think that we’re claiming that the original on Earth can live vicariously through the duplicate’s eyes via some psychic link?

    We’re not claiming this.

    Perhaps you can explain exactly what you think we’re trying to convince you of… Because it seems like you’re seeing and responding to positions that have not been expressed.

    Everything that makes you you, including your magical point of view, would be LITERALLY tunneled through the the communication medium used to transport the information describing you at the moment you were scanned from location A to location B.

    This is literally dualism.

    No, it is information science.

    (Unless you think that a blueprint is supernatural.)

    Jason

  341. Mlemaon 02 May 2013 at 3:48 am

    A person could imply that you’re a dualist because you seem to think there’s something about your physical brain that can’t be duplicated. This is the very definition of materialism: that the matter/energy state of your brain, if duplicated exactly, will create you. Because the matter/energy state of your brain is all you are.

    but i will try to respond to your comment to me since you seem to feel we’re coming to some sort of common understanding.

    me: No, in this problem, I am, at the moment I’m duplicated, one person (one unique, but duplicated state of matter and energy) in two places.

    you: No, you didn’t even know that I made a copy of you on the Enterprise. You’re not experiencing what they’re experiencing. If you were, you’d be able to tell me what it’s like on the Enterprise. You can’t even though I literally made a copy of you there 10 minutes ago. Don’t gloss over the point that “I literally made a copy of you”. It’s critical. I could have and you wouldn’t know. Yes?”

    I CAN tell you what it’s like on the Enterprise because that’s where my brain is. You copied it, disassembled it and reassembled it there. But now you’re saying you made a copy of it while I was asleep and put THAT on the Enterprise. You’ve cruelly created two of me. One of us can tell you what it’s like on the Enterprise and one of us can tell you what it’s like here. You’re talking to the original you left here. But if you call the Enterprise, you can talk to me there too. Sorry, but: the materialist would say: you have created two identical individuals who are both me, but we will be less like each other as time goes by.

    me: The next moment I begin to be two people who share one history of matter/energy states, but must now experience matter/energy states that will not be the same.

    you: I’m certain that this is an incorrect interpretation of the situation.

    That is the materialist’s interpretation of the situation.

    you: you don’t experience both, you’re the one on Earth. Again, you literally wouldn’t know if I made a copy of you, right?

    I do experience both, but not as one person. You’ve created two me’s, so you have to decide which one you want to address at any given moment. We would both know if you made a copy of me because we would both remember it. Unless you did it while I was asleep.

    you: Please answer the following question: would you know if I made a copy of you on Mars? I’m not asking you a deep, philosophical question. I’m asking if *you*, the person reading this message, would feel any different if I made a perfect copy of you on Mars. Yes or no.

    The me on earth, if scanned while asleep, would not necessarily know you put a copy of me on Mars. The me on Mars would not know that you left a copy of me on Earth. If you scanned me while I was asleep, neither one of me knows anything about the other

    You have created two mes. You say that can’t happen, but in the scenario that you’re creating that is indeed what you’re doing. Try imagining you’re at your computer and right next to you is another you. Neither of you knows if one is a copy or if you both just suddenly started to exist as two people. Now you’re one person again. Now you’re two people. Now one. When you’re one, you don’t want to die, when you’re two neither one of you wants to die. But if you understand that you are BOTH of those people, and then suddenly you are one and there is never two of you again, what difference does it make to YOU? you have lost NOTHING. no memories, no sense of being you. And yet, for a moment, there were two of you.

    me: You would be you in every way that you are you right now, except you’d be on the Enterprise.

    Right, from the perspective of the copy on the Enterprise. But no, this is wrong if you think *you*, the *you* that is on Earth, would experience the Enterprise. Because you’re not on the Enterprise, you’re in front of your computer. I see the sticking point, it’s right here. It’s always been right here.

    yes, the sticking point is here because you’ve created two individuals.
    you didn’t indicate that you were going to leave one of me here, all you said is that first I’m here, then I don’t exist for a second, and then I’m on the Enterprise. The perspective of the copy on the Enterprise IS my perspective. WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE AWARENESS OF SELF OF THE YOU ON THE ENTERPRISE THAT WOULD BE DIFFERENT IF ITS MATTER AND ENERGY STATE IS IDENTICAL TO THE YOU WHILE YOU WERE ON EARTH? How is it different from: getting into the copier, falling asleep, and transporting the copier to the Enterprise, waking you up and you walk out into the Enterprise?

    It’s this creation of two individuals that’s messing with your head. What if the scanning process was simultaneous to a disassembling process and ALSO simultaneous with the reassembling? would YOU have been non-existent at any point? If you were, would it constitute your death? since you exist immediately in a different place and no where else? we didn’t leave any matter/energy state that is you anywhere along the way?

    me: (quoting wikipedia) “all things are composed of material and all phenomena (including consciousness) are the result of material interactions”

    you: Right. But there are two brains making two separate consciousnesses. Each experiences a unique perspective. You are one of those perspectives.

    If there are two brains that are exactly alike and in two different locations, they will be having different experiences. But the moment they split into two identical brains, they were the same. And in that moment they WERE the same, you could be either one of them and still be you.

    you: I just don’t know of another sequence of words to make you see it how I see it. I totally see how you’re thinking the exact same thing right now. Ironic, yes? :)

    Well, I’m not sure we’re thinking the exact same thing right now. Because I’m not you! :)

  342. Mlemaon 02 May 2013 at 3:49 am

    sorry, the above comment is to Ditheit

  343. sonicon 02 May 2013 at 3:57 am

    Mlema-
    I don’t have any problem with your interpretation of the scenarios.
    I’m agreeing with pretty much what you are saying– except the stuff about what it is to be a ‘materialist’ and such.

    Please consider–

    The question is this– would a physically perfect copy of me, be me?

    I think that a physically exact copy of me could not exist in the material universe that I do. So I don’t think a physically exact copy of me could possibly be me– it wouldn’t exist in the material universe as I do. It might exist in an imagined universe–but I exist in the real one– an exact physical copy of me would most definately not be me.

    Now you say, for the sake of argument, that in your imagined universe a perfect physical copy of me would be me. OK. Now you say a good materialist would base his thinking on how things are in the imagined universe as opposed to the actual one. Whoa!

    Can I question that? That’s what I want you to consider– is it OK to question that the result of a thought experiment based in fantasy that leads to incorrect statements about the universe is the only proper materialistic stance?

    Other than that– I’m with you on how the scenarios play out– but not an exact copy…

    (Oh, and as far as I am concerned I am always ‘here’. I haven’t been ‘over there’ before. And that’s all there is to what I’m saying– Perhaps it’s different for you?)

    jasonnyberg-
    Please understand– if the answer to the question “How many of you can there be?” is something other than “One,” I’m not sure what you are explaining, but I fear it isn’t about me- the body sitting in the chair here.
    You can understand that I hope.

    Perhaps your ‘sense of self’ is very different than mine. Mine is basically “I am here.” There really isn’t much more to it than that. (I have memories, for example– they aren’t me… I have a body– it isn’t me as far as my sense of self goes… I have thoughts– they are not me as far as my sense of self goes… I have attributes- they could change and I’m still me… nope- “I am,” would cover it– except in my case my sense of self includes the “here” part.

    I’m guessing your sense of self is much more developed.

    Anyway- I’m fairly certain that every time the ‘sense of self’ “I am here” appears in the universe it isn’t me- because I’m pretty sure that shows up quite a bit- and where that shows up the physical configuration that produces that ‘sense’ is and– well that’s supposedly me.
    Perhaps I’m wrong about that.

    BiilyJoe7-
    I shouldn’t be so antagonistic.
    I really do like Dennett– he does such a good job of remaining pure–
    I am very impressed with “Consciousness Explained”. An amazing effort. I tip my hat.
    Perhaps I’m overly sensitive– didn’t you find his promise of immortality a bit much?

  344. Mlemaon 02 May 2013 at 4:02 am

    Ditheit: condensed version that might be more helpful:

    A person could imply that you’re a dualist because you seem to think there’s something about your physical brain that can’t be duplicated. This is the very definition of materialism: that the matter/energy state of your brain, if duplicated exactly, will create you. Because the matter/energy state of your brain is all you are.

    What is it about you, if you are your brain, that could not be recreated if the atoms all fell apart from each other? If you believe your brain is just matter, then we should be able to put some identical matter together in the same identical way the original matter of your brain was arranged, and create you again.

  345. Mlemaon 02 May 2013 at 4:31 am

    Sonic,

    I guess you’ll have to tell me what I said about materialism that is wrong. I’m not saying that materialism offers a valid interpretation of reality, but I believe I represented what a materialist would say about the teleporter situation. One of the ways I defend that is: BillyJoe said that I understood it. He’s a materialist, right?

    “The question is this– would a physically perfect copy of me, be me?”

    to the materialist: yes. because all you are to the materialist is your physical self

    “I think that a physically exact copy of me could not exist in the material universe that I do. So I don’t think a physically exact copy of me could possibly be me– it wouldn’t exist in the material universe as I do. It might exist in an imagined universe–but I exist in the real one– an exact physical copy of me would most definately not be me.”

    The materialist would say it is definitely you (if it could exist – it’s just a “what if” that attempts to illustrate what any individual might believe about what reality is)

    “Now you say, for the sake of argument, that in your imagined universe a perfect physical copy of me would be me. OK. Now you say a good materialist would base his thinking on how things are in the imagined universe as opposed to the actual one. Whoa!”

    The imagined universe is a way to illustrate what the ramifications are for the materialist’s viewpoint in the actual one.

    “Can I question that? That’s what I want you to consider– is it OK to question that the result of a thought experiment based in fantasy that leads to incorrect statements about the universe is the only proper materialistic stance?”

    I’m a little confused by the way your question is worded here sonic. Is the result the only materialist stance? (do you see that I’m not sure what you’re asking?) It is definitely OK to question the “results” of a thought experiment. Those “results” are only more thoughts.

    “Other than that– I’m with you on how the scenarios play out– but not an exact copy…”

    in a thought experiment, we can say the copy is exact. I think you’re saying: you don’t believe that an exact copy can exist, so therefore the thought experiment is invalid. and, on top of that, a materialist wouldn’t agree that an exact copy can exist. OH! if that is what you’re saying then I would say: if the materialist wanted to do the thought experiment, he would simply say: IF an exact copy could be made of my brain, would it be me? And the materialist would answer: yes.

    We’ll have to ask BillyJoe on this one.

    “(Oh, and as far as I am concerned I am always ‘here’. I haven’t been ‘over there’ before. And that’s all there is to what I’m saying– Perhaps it’s different for you?)”

    It is different for me. I have been here and I have been over there too.

  346. Mlemaon 02 May 2013 at 4:51 am

    hmm, Sonic: I think in that last bit you were referring to the part of the thought experiment where there are two of you. One is here and one is “over there” (you’re both thinking that)

    remember: it’s just a thought experiment. True, no one has ever experienced being able to say “I am over there” in real life. Is it possible you’re trying to force reality into the thought experiment?

    A materialist says: only the physical world exists. It is ironic that a materialist would participate in a thought experiment, since thoughts are illusions. but anyway: within the thought experiment, a materialist would be fine with having himself turned into information (there’s a question there about what the materialist would define as “information”) and then translated into other atoms – BECAUSE – he is no more or less than his physical self

  347. BillyJoe7on 02 May 2013 at 8:56 am

    Ditheit,

    “My only frustration is that I am unable to communicate my ideas as well as I would like”

    Not only are you satisfactorily communicating your ideas to me, I was already aware of those ideas before you even started communicating them to me, because I have heard them all before – they used to come out of my own mouth! So I understand exactly what you are trying to communicate. I understand only too well where you are coming from.

    I would hazard a guess that both Mlema and jasonnyberg have also been in the position of supporting your view on the scenarios described here. Because it seems intuitively correct. And I cannot speak for them, but the difference in my case was that I fully realised I was not supporting the materialist position but the dualist position. So, in my case, I actually knew my position was a wrong but I just could not, for the life of me, see what the materialist were trying to explain to me about why that position was wrong. Therefore, I think your chances of understanding the materialist position is close to zero. I don’t think I could ever have understood it either if I believed I was right.

    And that applies to sonic as well.

    But ccbowers is in a different position. He thinks this has nothing to do with either dualism or materialism, whereas in fact it is the pivotal argument that identifies you as a materialist or a dualist. If you don’t think this is about materialism v dualism, you don’t understand materialism. Not where it really counts.

    Mlema,

    Thanks for being my hero here. :)
    I’m glad I got the chance to say this to you after all the head butts and insults that we’ve exchanged in other posts. It’s nice to know that we can leave the battle field and share a drink in the pub as it were. If you’ve ever seen a game of Australian Rules Football – the game and the aftermath – you would know what I mean.

    jasonnyberg,

    Thanks to you also.
    Although we totally agree about the Materialist view on identity, you have an intelligent and interesting way of explaining things that I found very entertaining as well. And you also provided a slant on the question that I had not considered before – the failure to separate out the ethics of the process from the process itself which seems to be acting as a block to those who just will not see what is staring them right in the face.

  348. jasonnybergon 02 May 2013 at 9:53 am

    BillyJoe7,

    Thanks! It’s been a great metaphysical and philosophical discsussion which has, I feel, added depth to my own thoughts and positions, which wouldn’t have occurred if the dialog hadn’t been as vigorous.

    IMHO, tackling difficult concepts is easier when you can partition the subject into a stack of conceptual building blocks. Einstein developed, and more importantly presented, his insights into the fundamental nature of space and time in two stages: Special Relativity (i.e. the necessary consequences of a universal speed limit, i.e. C), and subsequently, General Relativity (the equivalence of mass and energy, E=mc^2). The former gives you tools that are required to understand the latter.

    IMHO, understanding “Special Teleportation” (i.e. mind=matter=information) provides the intellectual tools that are required to understand “General Teleportation” (i.e. the physical and social consequences of the application of Special Teleportation.)

    Jason

  349. ccbowerson 02 May 2013 at 10:35 am

    jasonnyberg-

    Your direct response to my question was very helpful, and I wish I had more time to read all the other comments since yesterday, but it will have to wait as I have much work to do.

    Let’s not forget that there is much more agreement all around, and we are focusing on the 1% of disagreement (maybe). This is of course the interesting stuff, as it helps us sort out our thoughts on the matter.

  350. sonicon 02 May 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Mlema-
    Some materialists might complain that they believe the universe works as it actually does– not they way it ‘would work if.’

    In this case , someone might complain that there can’t be two of him (he having a unique location in space)– so the thought experiment shows that at least one of the premises is incorrect.
    We know the premise of the ‘exact copy’ is incorrect– but it seems we might also have the definition of what it is to be ‘me’ wrong as well.

    Certainly this is not out of bounds– trying to nail down what the words being used actually mean. In this case I’ve been suggesting that ‘me’ is a unique individual that exists in a particular location in space.
    While there seems to be some agreement with that, the next line is always about how there are more than one ‘me’ at one time.

    I see this internal contradiction as problematic-

    I will quote daedalus2u–
    “A problem with this discussion is that our definitions don’t hold in many of these extreme examples. If you want to deny that an identical copy is the same “life”, you have to be able to use a definition of “life” that can distinguish between these different identical copies, and you have to use definitions that are consistent with reality as we know it.”..”..we don’t need to have coherent ideas of what will happen in impossible situations that are not just unlikely, they are impossible.”

    But I guess we each get to do the ‘thought experiment’ ourselves and we each can get our own certainty that way.
    What I see is a great deal of certainty here about the meaning of a fantasy that seems to me to lead to internal self-refutation. But that’s just because I think the concept of ‘me’ has to include the location of my body- at least when I’m thinking as a materialist.

    Anyway– given the premises of the scenarios- I would agree that you understand the ‘materialist’ thinking. Very well, in fact.
    I’m just suggesting that a person (a materialist even) might see the result as a reason to question the premises rather than the ‘truth’ of materialism.

    I hope that makes sense.

    Sorry if my method of communicating this has been obtuse. It’s really all I’m trying to say.

  351. jasonnybergon 02 May 2013 at 3:09 pm

    sonic

    But that’s just because I think the concept of ‘me’ has to include the location of my body-

    Yes, your insistence on using this definition of the word “me”, and interpreting everyone’s use of “you” in the context of your definition of “me” is clearly a source of disconnect.

    When someone says, “‘You’ are here AND there,” they are not using the word “you” in a way that’s compatible with your above definition of the word “me.”

    They’re not saying that “you are a single person sensing two points of view simultaneously”, though your responses make it clear that you ARE interpreting it as such.

    They’re actually using “you” in the sense that there are two individuals, sensing their own POVs within their own consciousnesses, that nevertheless have the same name, share a pre-copy history, and cannot tell whether they are the original or the copy because at the instant in time that their consciousness branched, they were materialistically identical.

    Your inflexible attachment to your particular definition of “me” is hampering your understanding of everyone who’s trying to discuss the issue with you.

    Jason

  352. Ditheiton 02 May 2013 at 3:41 pm

    In what way is the word “me” meaningful if another me could exist at this very second and I would not know about it? This is my hang-up. Would you agree if I define self as:
    “That which experiences what I’m experiencing?” Because remember: I made a copy of you on the Enterprise and you didn’t even notice, sitting there typing at the computer! Therefore, you don’t experience what an identical copy of you is experiencing.

    I apologize if I glossed over a question that I haven’t answered before making this comment, I’m going to re-read all of the comments after my previous post and give it another go.

  353. Ditheiton 02 May 2013 at 4:03 pm

    jassonnyberg-

    It’s there, you just don’t recognize it.

    No, in the transporter example, that specific brain is vaporized. It would be false to say “it is there.” A representation of it exists, but representations of brains don’t have a perspective or experience until instantiated in a physical substrate (until the copy is actually made).

    Perhaps you can explain exactly what you think we’re trying to convince you of… Because it seems like you’re seeing and responding to positions that have not been expressed.

    You’re trying to convince me that I’ll survive my death if only a perfect copy of me is made somewhere. I disagree because I believe that by definition I die when my brain is destroyed. That’s because I believe that I am my brain. The physical, actual factual brain that’s in my head right now.

    Mlema-

    A person could imply that you’re a dualist because you seem to think there’s something about your physical brain that can’t be duplicated.

    I don’t think there is anything in there that couldn’t be duplicated. The only reason it matters which brain is which is because *I* am *this* brain. *I* wouldn’t even be aware if a copy was made of me somewhere without my permission. It would change nothing from my perspective. It could have happened yesterday and I would be none the wiser.

    I CAN tell you what it’s like on the Enterprise because that’s where my brain is.

    Alright, hot shot. What color is my Andorian science officer’s garb? I saw “you” talking to him earlier today on the enterprise. Why can’t you, the you on Earth, tell me that? Because you’re not experiencing what your copy is experiencing in any meaningful sense of the word!

    One of us can tell you what it’s like on the Enterprise and one of us can tell you what it’s like here.

    Right, you’ve got no hope of telling me what’s on the Enterpirse, have you? Which one are *you*, the one I’m talking to? You’re the one on Earth, huh? Thought so.

    You say that can’t happen, but in the scenario that you’re creating that is indeed what you’re doing.

    No! No, no. No no no no no no… and no. I’m saying that it could happen! We agree that it could happen! It’s just that you can’t tell me what’s happening on the Enterprise because I’m talking to the Earth you.

    WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE AWARENESS OF SELF OF THE YOU ON THE ENTERPRISE THAT WOULD BE DIFFERENT IF ITS MATTER AND ENERGY STATE IS IDENTICAL TO THE YOU WHILE YOU WERE ON EARTH?

    Not a damn thing. :) It’s just that you’re on Earth and can’t tell me what color Shres’ uniform is even thought “you” talked to him this morning.

    What if the scanning process was simultaneous to a disassembling process and ALSO simultaneous with the reassembling? would YOU have been non-existent at any point? If you were, would it constitute your death? since you exist immediately in a different place and no where else? we didn’t leave any matter/energy state that is you anywhere along the way?

    Same situation as before. Trying to match up the times of death and assembly do nothing.

    And in that moment they WERE the same, you could be either one of them and still be you.

    Right. And you’re the one on Earth. (PS: what is the color of that Andorian’s uniform? You’re not really experiencing the Enterprise, right now, are you?)

    To you other question, Mlema-

    A person could imply that you’re a dualist because you seem to think there’s something about your physical brain that can’t be duplicated. This is the very definition of materialism: that the matter/energy state of your brain, if duplicated exactly, will create you. Because the matter/energy state of your brain is all you are.
    What is it about you, if you are your brain, that could not be recreated if the atoms all fell apart from each other? If you believe your brain is just matter, then we should be able to put some identical matter together in the same identical way the original matter of your brain was arranged, and create you again.

    Ah, but I am (1) proposing that there *is* something that can’t be “duplicated” by mere definition. It can be identical, but it is not the same brain! If you disagree that the same =/= identical, please indicate. If I am my brain, it matters if I am that same brain or not. (2) I haven’t proposed anything non-physical. Just that it matters that my brain exists to my existence as opposed to an identical brain that isn’t the same. Again, if you think identical is equivalent to “the same,” that’s where we should focus our next series of posts.

  354. Ditheiton 02 May 2013 at 4:13 pm

    BillyJoe7-

    Therefore, I think your chances of understanding the materialist position is close to zero.

    This assertion doesn’t bother me. I fully understand the materialist position. *Your* chance of understanding the materialist position is close to zero. We both claim this with the same conviction. We’re here to try and demonstrate this, however. It does us no good to state it.

  355. BillyJoe7on 02 May 2013 at 4:24 pm

    I forgot about daedalus…

    “we don’t need to have coherent ideas of what will happen in impossible situations that are not just unlikely, they are impossible”

    He does not understand the concept of a thought experiment or its purpose.
    It absolutely does not matter that it is impossible.
    It’s just a tool to help people to understand the materialist position on identity.

  356. sonicon 02 May 2013 at 5:30 pm

    jasonnyberg–
    thank-you much.
    I’m going to agree that it is my inflexible definition that is holding this up.

    It can sometimes happen that if one allows too much flexibility in one’s definitions it can hide flaws in the underlying reasoning–
    Allow me to explain why I think it important to maintain this inflexible definitional framework in this specific case-

    If there are 17 robots each built exactly the same (whatever that means)… we would objectively know they weren’t the same one because they would be in different places.
    And that’s the only thing we would need to objectively see– that they are in different locations– to know they are not the same one.

    Similarly an outside observer could note the man in the box is not the man outside the box– I suggest that would be true of both the man inside and outside the box as well. In other words there would be agreement from the standpoint of the ‘objective’ observer as well as both ‘subjective’ observers– the guy inside the box isn’t the guy outside the box.

    This would be true regardless of any difficulty in determining who is who– there are clearly different people involved from each perspective.

    This leads me to believe that an integral aspect of what it is to be ‘me’– both from an objective stand point as well as the subjective– is current location.

    I am not a ‘brain state’- I am a body that has a brain state that exists in a particular place now. This definition that fits the actual physical facts as we know them eliminates the contrary conclusion that there are more than one of ‘me’– or that two distinctly different objects are the same ‘consciousness’ or whatever-

    Am I completely lost?

    Now you want to say that these two objects would have the same ‘sense of self’ because of the ‘brain state’ that they share.

    While I’m going to agree that the two objects would have the same ideas about who they are– they would know they aren’t the same because of the fact they are in different places.

    I’m suggesting any ‘consciousness’ includes a ‘here’ that the consciousness is.
    And by creating the illusion that these two are the same– it seems we overlook the simple physical fact that the consciousness will never be the same — (there will be unconsciousness)– followed by the first conscious act of being ‘here’.
    But those ‘here’s’ will be different for the two different objects.

    So the two ‘consciousnesses’ will never be the same- although they may have the same idea about who they were up to that first moment–

    Am I missing something?

    Now you ask about the transporter scenario–
    is it non-materialist of me to suggest I’d like someone to try it first to see what happens?

  357. cogniteon 02 May 2013 at 5:46 pm

    “Have you ever heard about the concept of a “black box” before? Hint: It is a widely-applied conceptual tool that I did not invent…
    In short, if you have to break open my black box (As you do when you say, “That does not mean the inside would agree”) to defeat my black box argument, you have lost the argument.”

    I know what a “black box” is. One thing it is not is a conceptual toy for putting things in which you do not want to argue about. If one side of the argument is concerned with the stuff you put in the box, then you do not get to keep it.

    “I’ve been very specific in describing my position. There is no specificity whatsoever in your reply, I can’t do anything with it. For instance, what materialist position does not recognize that the mind is a product of material brain function? Are you invoking “quantum uncertainty”?”

    I never said some “materialist position does not recognize that the mind is a product of material brain function” and am not invoking the quantum thing. This was not specifically directed at you, although, looking back at the text, it came out that way. The point I was making was that continuity does not have to be an illusion to every materialist position and that focus on specific brain/mental states are irrelevant.

    In fact, take this abundant argument:

    “..to the materialist there is no discontinuity because: there has never been an end or beginning in the existence of what makes you YOU, which is: a specific state of matter and energy AND THAT IS ALL. So, as long as there is always THE specific state of matter and energy that is YOU, then YOU never had any discontinuity.”

    or this one, by you:

    “CONTAINED IN THIS INFORMATION IS EVERYTHING THAT MAKES YOU YOU AT THE MOMENT OF THE SCAN. (I.e. materialism.)
    The thoughts that were percolating through your brain at the moment of the scan would be captured in that information, the description of your material being. There would be descriptions of signals from your sensory apparatuses winding their way through your nervous system contained in this information, captured in flight.”

    This implies that the only thing that makes “you” “you” is a particular brain state. When that state changes, i guess you would have another “you” not identical to the first “you” (ie. someone else). So the only way to be “you” is to conserve the brain state, as by scanning. The conserved you would not be aware as it is not allowed to change state. The purpose of conserving the “you” would be meaningless and “you” would always have to allow “you” to change into another “you”.

    So only when in transport are “you” ever “you”. Why then would it ever be important to preserve the “you” from the transport at all?

    Further, this would mean you could do minor changes to the “you” while in transport without messing up the “you” to much (improve various cognitive functions, add some nice memories “total recall” style). And there will really be no fine line to cross before “you” become not “you”.

    Put another way, one side of this argument continually says something like this:

    When I am copied and vaporized I die.

    The other side is saying:

    When I am copied and vaporized I survive.

    as has been pointed out this confusion stems from differing definitions of “I” and “continuity”.

    Previously I posted this description of pro-teleportation-definition of “I”

    “From time t to time t+1 something will change in the world; the arrangement of elementary particles in your body change or your mental state transitions from state 1 to state 2. These changes (I have no idea which particular changes means a discontinuity of consciousness/you but perhaps someone else do?) means that you at t+1 are not the same as you at t. So at each consecutive t there will be someone new continuing your existence. This is why proponents of teleportation do not hesitate to vaporize themselves when simultaneously copied.

    The trick seems to be to not continuing existence as two individuals after the copying as that would allow two different existencies to continue on their own path. At the moment of copying/vaporization the copy realizes you in every way possible, in this viewpoint, and therefore your existence continues. If the original is kept alive this means the two are no longer the same from that moment although both are you but two individual yous.

    It is certainly surprising that proponents of this view cares about teleporting (since for one thing “care” ought to be a dualist term) or the continuing popping in to existence of the countless future you´s/them´s.”

    So continuity will not be a problem since “you”/”I” never have continuity at all. (Continuity meaning that a POV survives from moment to moment)

  358. BillyJoe7on 02 May 2013 at 5:46 pm

    Ditheit,

    I’m sort of finished here, but I will add this last post for your benefit, seeing as you’ve been so persistent.

    Firstly, I do understand your position. Intimately. Remember, I’ve been there. I feel for you every time you respond. I know what it feels like to believe what you’re saying to be true. But you don’t undertand my position. You can’t feel what it is like. That’s the difference.

    Secondly, I have definitely not just been stating that my position is the correct one for materialism. If that was true your objection would be valid. As it is you’re just sounding like sonic here. Disingenuous. I’ve been doing more than just stating that my position is correct, I been trying to show you why it is correct. And I’m not doing that for my benefit.

    Could I make a final suggestion?
    Just as an exercise, just for the next 24 hours, just imagine that you are wrong and we are right. Just as a exercise, okay? And concentrate solely on the following thought experiment. You might think it doesn’t extrapolate to all the other scenarios but, never mind, it is a starting point.

    Scenario 1:
    Last night after reading and responding on this thread, you went to sleep and this morning you woke up and now here you are reading and responding on this thread.

    Scenario 2:
    Last night after reading and responding on this thread, you went to sleep…
    Whilst you were asleep, you were scanned. Then you were vapourised. Then you were duplicated in the exact same position that you occupied when you were scanned, using the exact same atoms that comprised you when you were scanned, in the exact same positions these atoms occupied when you were scanned.
    …and this morning you woke up and now here you are reading and responding on this thread.

    Remember, I don’t want you to respond with your usual response. Let that slide. Try to imagine what it feels like for the other view to be correct.
    Good luck.

  359. Ditheiton 02 May 2013 at 8:45 pm

    Alright, thanks for the conversation. You’re right, it’s probably run its course.

    Unfortunately, I cannot imagine what it would mean for you to be right because I understand the problem in a very different way. It would mean that I could possibly be two people at the same time which is impossible for me to imagine.

  360. jasonnybergon 02 May 2013 at 11:32 pm

    cognite, rather than opposing your response, I’m just going to add what I feel is missing.

    “CONTAINED IN THIS INFORMATION IS EVERYTHING THAT MAKES YOU YOU AT THE MOMENT OF THE SCAN. [...]

    This implies that the only thing that makes “you” “you” [at a particular moment in time] is a particular brain state [at that particular moment in time]. When that state changes, i guess you would have another “you” not identical to the first “you” (ie. someone else, [i.e. a "new you" which has incorporated the perceptions it has processed since the "previous you")]. So the only way to be [preserving what makes "you"] “you” [at that moment in time] is to conserve the [blueprint of that particular] brain state, as by scanning. The conserved you would not be aware as it is not allowed to change state. The purpose of conserving the “you” would be meaningless [if never re-instantiated,] and [for "you" to exist as a dynamic, perceiving, and cogitating consciousness,] “you” would always have to allow “you” to change into another “you” [by being instantiated in a medium that can perform the function that the described material brain would perform].

    Assuming you accept my meager additions, we’re in sync.

    Previously I posted this description of pro-teleportation-definition of “I”

    “From time t to time t+1 something will change in the world; the arrangement of elementary particles in your body change or your mental state transitions from state 1 to state 2. These changes (I have no idea which particular changes means a discontinuity of consciousness/you but perhaps someone else do?) means that you at t+1 are not the same as you at t. So at each consecutive t there will be someone new continuing your existence. This is why proponents of teleportation do not hesitate to vaporize themselves when simultaneously copied.

    The trick seems to be to not continuing existence as two individuals after the copying as that would allow two different existencies to continue on their own path. At the moment of copying/vaporization the copy realizes you in every way possible, in this viewpoint, and therefore your existence continues. If the original is kept alive this means the two are no longer the same from that moment although both are you but two individual yous.

    This is a respectably accurate description of the technical aspects of my position. I’m glad you highlighted the ethical problem introduced by allowing the consciousness of the teleportee to branch, something I’ve tried to draw attention to as well. I think it’s the biggest, least comprehended issue that this thread has wrestled with.

    It is certainly surprising that proponents of this view cares about teleporting (since for one thing “care” ought to be a dualist term) or the continuing popping in to existence of the countless future you´s/them´s.”

    I can’t glean from this what exactly you’re surprised about; I’d say that to a great degree, I’m a proponent of the position you previously described, but you have not really stated the contrary position from which your surprise presumably stems.

    Are you surprised because you think that assuming the above materialistic position is to deny the existence of a “continuous self”? This wouldn’t be true, because I can simply define “myself” as not any particular state of matter at any particular point in time, but as the evolving integral of that system of sequential states of matter, including the sense of mind that this evolving integral generates.

    Are you surprised that someone who has the understanding that we exist solely in the material world, that there’s nothing else, and that there’s no “higher authority” or “higher purpose”, can “care” about anything? I’ll just defer to the multitudes of arguments materialists have already used to counter this this view.

    (Meanwhile, apparently unable to understand that this is a universally acknowledged consequence of creating a copy of a person, Ditheit is still trying to “explain” ad nauseam that one branch of a duplicated consciousness has a different point of view than the original…)

    Jason

  361. sonicon 03 May 2013 at 12:41 am

    jasonnyberg-

    If you are the ‘system of sequential states of matter’- rather than the ‘evolving integral of that system of sequential states of matter’- then we have no disagreement as to materialist position.

    But the ‘evolving integral’… isn’t what you are– it is an abstraction from the physical facts– and the physical facts are what you are, not the abstraction.
    And the physical facts in this case include a location in space.

    That’s so much easier than the other way to say it.

  362. BillyJoe7on 03 May 2013 at 12:52 am

    Ditheit,

    “It would mean that I could possibly be two people at the same time which is impossible for me to imagine”

    Then imagine there are two people who could possibly be YOU.

    YOU went to sleep last.
    YOU woke up this morning.

    YOU went to sleep last night.
    YOU were vapourised and duplicated (with the same atoms in the same positions).
    YOU woke up this morning.

    (The part in brackets it not essential but use it as a stepping stone).

  363. sonicon 03 May 2013 at 3:45 am

    BillyJoe7-
    I’ll try to language more acceptable to you–

    Let’s agree to these things-
    1) An exact copy is an exact copy.
    2) If an exact copy of you existed, then it would be you.
    3) By ‘you’ we mean a specific brain state.

    The first conclusion from this is that ‘you’ only last for a moment– coming into existence at a moment of consciousness, only to disappear forever in the next moment. This sounds way too much like ‘consciousness causes collapse’- I’m thinking it is not your preferred conclusion…

    So maybe we go with
    3) you are a series of brain states that evolve over time.

    In this case if there was an exact copy of you produced, then each would literally be you– as each would consist of a branch of the series of brain states that are you.
    So if one of you had to be executed– it wouldn’t matter which one was picked– they are both you in every way.

    Right?

    What I get from this is that one reason that an exact copy can’t exist is that two objects can’t be in the same space.

    Do we actually disagree about any of this?

  364. BillyJoe7on 03 May 2013 at 7:54 am

    sonic,

    “Let’s agree to these things-
    1) An exact copy is an exact copy”
    Wow! I mean, WOW! An exact copy = an exact copy!

    “2) If an exact copy of you existed, then it would be you”
    Don’t you mean “If an exact copy of you existed, then it would be an exact copy of you” |:

    “3) By ‘you’ we mean a specific brain state.”
    Hmmm…. “you” in the original = “a specific brain state” = “you” in the copy.

    “The first conclusion from this is that ‘you’ only last for a moment– coming into existence at a moment of consciousness, only to disappear forever in the next moment. This sounds way too much like ‘consciousness causes collapse’”
    Um…that was a joke right?

    “I’m thinking it is not your preferred conclusion”
    Personally, I would have gone for ‘quantum fluctuation’, but hey…

    “So maybe we go with
    3) “you” are a series of brain states that evolve over time.
    In this case if there was an exact copy of “you” produced, then each would literally be “you” – as each would consist of a branch of the series of brain states that are “you”.”
    Not bad, sonic.

    “So if one of you had to be executed– it wouldn’t matter which one was picked– they are both you in every way. Right?”
    Oh my god, jasonnyberg was right. Proof by orthogonal argument.

    “What I get from this is that one reason that an exact copy can’t exist is that two objects can’t be in the same space”
    Oh, well done!
    X = X
    But, Z
    Therefore, X =/= X

    “Do we actually disagree about any of this?”
    You are such a joker, sonic.

  365. BillyJoe7on 03 May 2013 at 9:12 am

    …in any case.

    “So if one of you had to be executed– it wouldn’t matter which one was picked– they are both you in every way”

    So a psychopathic homocidal axe murderer and his copy are caught and you’re wondering which one to remove from society?

  366. jasonnybergon 03 May 2013 at 10:01 am

    BillyJoe7, I think you’re seeing sarcasm in sonic’s last post that may not actually be his intent. If you read it at face value, he’s entertaining our viewpoint. Cut him some slack for a moment…

    sonic,

    “2) If an exact copy of you existed, then it would be you”

    I’d say that even an inexact copy to a certain extent would be you. If the “material-continuity-must-be-maintained” crowd can say that “you” are still “you” after one hemisphere of your brain is surgically removed (as has been stated in this thread), then surelyyou can spot me some atomic-scale deviations within a small thermodynamic range, can’t you?

    3) “you” are a series of brain states that evolve over time.
    In this case if there was an exact copy of “you” produced, then each would literally be “you” – as each would consist of a branch of the series of brain states that are “you”.

    This is definitely something we can work with.

    So if one of you had to be executed– it wouldn’t matter which one was picked– they are both you in every way. Right?”

    I’m going to interpret this as simply stating from a different angle that neither branch in the lineage of brain states has any more or less claim to the throne (i.e. social constructs such as name, money, ss#, job, familial lineage, etc. etc. etc.) of “you” than the other.

    If this interpretation is correct, then I agree.

    If OTOH by “It wouldn’t matter” you’re referring to the ethics of executing someone (which I don’t think you are), then I would say that we’re talking about two different things, and are just talking past each other.

    What I get from this is that one reason that an exact copy can’t exist is that two objects can’t be in the same space.

    A) My position does not require the copy to be a quantumly-precise “exact copy”… See my earlier comment about the brain hemispheres above.

    B) Either you’re participating in the thought experiment where the rules state we can, or you’re not. Whether teleporters can really be constructed or not is a completely different discussion.

    Do we actually disagree about any of this?

    In this post I’ve explained how I can interpret your statements in a way that’s compatible with my position. If you accept my interpretation as valid, then we are indeed in agreement with regard to these points. The ball is back in your court…

    Jason

  367. jasonnybergon 03 May 2013 at 10:22 am
    So if one of you had to be executed– it wouldn’t matter which one was picked– they are both you in every way. Right?”

    I’m going to interpret this as simply stating from a different angle that neither branch in the lineage of brain states has any more or less claim to the throne (i.e. social constructs such as name, money, ss#, job, familial lineage, etc. etc. etc.) of “you” than the other.

    To be absolutely clear, my comment here builds on top of the previously proposed and accepted statement that:

    3) “you” are a series of brain states that evolve over time.
    In this case if there was an exact copy of “you” produced, then each would literally be “you” – as each would consist of a branch of the series of brain states that are “you”.

    I.e., to be precise, in addition to the claim that each branch is technically an equally legitimate descendant of the original, unbranched sequence of brain states, and there’s no technical reason why one would be more legitimate than the other. I’m just anticipating that someone will soon be bringing up perfectly valid (but orthogonal) social and/or ethical reasons why one might be considered more legitimate than the other.

    In other words, I just don’t want my “social constructs” sidebar to get in the way of the “branching lineage of brain states” issue.

    Jason

  368. Mlemaon 03 May 2013 at 3:08 pm

    Detheit,

    “Ah, but I am (1) proposing that there *is* something that can’t be “duplicated” by mere definition.”

    What is it about your brain that can’t be duplicated?

    “It can be identical, but it is not the same brain!”

    true, once you have two things – they may be identical – but they are not the same thing.

    “If I am my brain, it matters if I am that same brain or not.”

    Tomorrow you will not have the same brain you have today. Will you still be you?

    “(2) I haven’t proposed anything non-physical. Just that it matters that my brain exists to my existence as opposed to an identical brain that isn’t the same.”

    Your brain matters to your existence. But if an identical brain replaces your brain, why does THAT matter to your existence?

  369. Mlemaon 03 May 2013 at 3:23 pm

    BillyJoe,
    I’ve always been your friend. I think maybe you believe that now because instead of me trying to make you understand my viewpoint, I’ve simply managed to show you that I understand your viewpoint.

    I’m the same person I’ve always been. We still don’t agree on some very fundamental philosophy.

    But a drink in the pub would be grand. Perhaps that would be the chance I need for you to show me you understand my viewpoint. If that didn’t happen, we’d still be drunk together – and that has a tendency to blur viewpoints and make them all alike.

    :)

  370. Mlemaon 03 May 2013 at 3:29 pm

    Sonic, what materials do we need to do a thought experiment?

    Can we look inside the brain and see the results of the thought experiment?

  371. Mlemaon 03 May 2013 at 3:41 pm

    Sonic,

    “If there are 17 robots each built exactly the same (whatever that means)… we would objectively know they weren’t the same one because they would be in different places.
    And that’s the only thing we would need to objectively see– that they are in different locations– to know they are not the same one.”

    But they are all RI-23.
    no matter which one you go to, it will be the same for you and it ?

  372. sonicon 03 May 2013 at 4:07 pm

    jassonyberg-
    I have no problem with what you are saying.
    In fact, given the scenario these conclusions are fairly ‘self-evident’ as BJ7 claims.

    I’m agreeing that in the scenario each branch has the same legit claim to being ‘sonic’.
    Let’s tease that out from a different angle for a moment–

    If we take some ‘leeway’ on the ‘exactness’ of the copy — then a question of how much leeway is acceptable comes up.
    Am I Thomas Jefferson reincarnate?, becomes the question of ‘how much leeway you asking for?’– and this isn’t a very good way to make the point– but perhaps you can understand the point of that now– not ‘freaky friday’, but rather ‘how much leeway you want?’
    And given enough leeway– I think we would agree that–”I am he as you are me and we are all together” becomes true– not a sarcastic statement- but rather a consequence of accepting ‘leeway’ in the ‘brain state’ of ‘me’.

    Am I making more sense to you now?

    Warning!!!– this next bit is intended to bring about laughter– not insight–
    Trying to convince anyone that “I am that guy over there.” can have negative consequences on the freedom of motion that is allowed to the body from which such an utterence might come– so even if you conclude that “I am that other guy,” or “I am in fact Thomas Jeffereson reincarnate,” I would suggest keeping this insight to yourself for the most part given the current cultural reactions to such a claim… :-(

    (Perhaps if I leave out the bad jokes like that last this communication would go more smoothly– what do you think about that?)

    I agree-
    “Either you’re participating in the thought experiment where the rules state we can, or you’re not. Whether teleporters can really be constructed or not is a completely different discussion.”

    As long as we agree that any conclusions we make thinking about the fantasy we construct are only valid to the extent they agree with the physical realities of the material universe.

    OK?

  373. BillyJoe7on 03 May 2013 at 4:30 pm

    jasonnyberg,

    “BillyJoe7, I think you’re seeing sarcasm in sonic’s last post that may not actually be his intent. If you read it at face value, he’s entertaining our viewpoint”

    Well, I think he thinks he’s delivered a curved ball.

    “Cut him some slack for a moment”

    I did actually….

    Sonic:
    “So maybe we go with 3) “you” are “a series of brain states that evolve over time”.
    In this case if there was an exact copy of “you” produced, then each would literally be “you” – as each would consist of a branch of “the series of brain states” that are “you”.”

    BillyJoe:
    “Not bad, sonic”

    Well, I did help him out with a couple of “scare quotes”, and I’ve added a couple more here, because I’m pretty sure (going on past history) that he actually means something quite different from what he has written (read at face value).
    But, okay, let’s take him at face value and see what happens…

  374. Mlemaon 03 May 2013 at 4:36 pm

    sonic, I’m thinking that maybe, just maybe, I might be getting a feeling of where you’re coming from.

    a materialist says: I am my brain (body) – or “brain state”. and that’s it. But he only knows he’s a body because he’s experiencing that. The idealist says: I’m my experience and that’s all. But what is he experiencing? Which one knows reality? Isn’t it true that we really can’t know?

    But mainly – are you wondering: how does debating whether “I” could survive teleportation elucidate the validity of either view? It doesn’t. It just points out contradictions between what any of us says we believe and what we demonstrate our beliefs to be.

  375. BillyJoe7on 03 May 2013 at 4:44 pm

    …oops, I didn’t see sonic’s last post.

    For the life of me I can’t see where this is coming from:

    “If we take some ‘leeway’ on the ‘exactness’ of the copy — then a question of how much leeway is acceptable comes up.
    Am I Thomas Jefferson reincarnate?, becomes the question of ‘how much leeway you asking for?’– and this isn’t a very good way to make the point– but perhaps you can understand the point of that now– not ‘freaky friday’, but rather ‘how much leeway you want?’
    And given enough leeway– I think we would agree that–”I am he as you are me and we are all together” becomes true– not a sarcastic statement- but rather a consequence of accepting ‘leeway’ in the ‘brain state’ of ‘me’.”

    Is that a curved ball or a googly? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Googly)
    And here he agrees with you:

    “I agree-
    “Either you’re participating in the thought experiment where the rules state we can, or you’re not. Whether teleporters can really be constructed or not is a completely different discussion.””

    But then, hey, he actually doesn’t:

    “As long as we agree that any conclusions we make thinking about the fantasy we construct are only valid to the extent they agree with the physical realities of the material universe.”

    Perhaps it might be better for me to sit back and watch the exchange for a while.

  376. Mlemaon 03 May 2013 at 5:20 pm

    Sonic, I had missed an earlier post of yours.

    “Some materialists might complain that they believe the universe works as it actually does– not they way it ‘would work if.’”

    I can why someone might say “no self-respecting materialist would engage in unrealistic fantasy that violates physical laws”. You may be right.

    “In this case , someone might complain that there can’t be two of him (he having a unique location in space)– so the thought experiment shows that at least one of the premises is incorrect.
    We know the premise of the ‘exact copy’ is incorrect– but it seems we might also have the definition of what it is to be ‘me’ wrong as well.”

    yes. But my thinking was: “IF we could exactly copy you as you are in this moment…” in order to illustrate what we think the definition of “me” is. Of course, once we copy, then we have the question of location in space. That’s where the discussion really went off the rails.

    “Certainly this is not out of bounds– trying to nail down what the words being used actually mean. In this case I’ve been suggesting that ‘me’ is a unique individual that exists in a particular location in space.”

    right. If we’ve created two of you, you can’t refer to them both as “me”

    “While there seems to be some agreement with that, the next line is always about how there are more than one ‘me’ at one time.”

    Well, even though I haven’t read back through the whole discussion, I think that we’re saying is: two physically identical individuals, not two “mes” – although i have spoken that way tongue in cheek to try to illustrate, again, the concept of “self”.

    “What I see is a great deal of certainty here about the meaning of a fantasy that seems to me to lead to internal self-refutation. But that’s just because I think the concept of ‘me’ has to include the location of my body- at least when I’m thinking as a materialist.”

    There is a certain self-refutiation in materialism. Would you agree? (that is, what do you think? because I’m not claiming to be an expert on this)

    “I’m just suggesting that a person (a materialist even) might see the result as a reason to question the premises rather than the ‘truth’ of materialism.”

    OK. I’m glad you pointed that out. It did make me think about it all a bit more deeply. Thanks.

  377. Mlemaon 03 May 2013 at 5:36 pm

    Sonic, maybe it all boils down to this:

    (me): If we make an exact copy…

    (materialist): that’s impossible.

    (me): is it you?

    (materialist): there’s only one me.

    The problem with not being able to make an exact copy within the thought experiment is, we can’t then use it to find out what you think you are! If you allow me to create two identical brains from your current brain, then I can find out what you think it is about your brain that makes you “you”, by asking you: If I have to get rid of one, which one do you want to keep?

    I understand that at the moment I create two brains, according to the materialist, there are two individuals, so there’s no one to ask: which one to keep? Instead there are two individuals who both want to keep their brains. That’s why the discussion then became: if I replace all the matter/energy of your brain with identical matter/energy, are you still you?

    In the discussion, these questions have revealed that even though some individuals say “I am my brain”, they believe that an identical brain in the same place would not allow them to say “I am my brain”. It’s my understanding that, to a materialist, as long as the matter/energy of the new brain is identical to that in the old brain, he would still say “I am my brain”.

  378. sonicon 03 May 2013 at 7:55 pm

    Mlema-
    I think you are understanding me fine- but I am willing to engage in the fantasy–
    Note- the difference at this point–

    I’m saying–
    “As long as we agree that any conclusions we make thinking about the fantasy we construct are only valid to the extent they agree with the physical realities of the material universe.”

    This seems to be a sticking point for BJ7. I’m not sure what jasonnyberg thinks yet.

    So yes- for the sake of argument I will accept the notion of the exact copy– but no, that does not prove there are more than one of ‘me’– it just shows you have stretched the analogy beyond its usefulness.
    And I am the ‘conscious entity’ that takes up a particular spot in space– and no amount of fantasy will alter that.

    This is not to say the exercise has no merit– it certainly demonstrates the inadequacy of thinking of oneself as a ‘brain state’.

    Anyway- In general I am leery of these ‘intuition pumps’ because they produce a level of certainty that can be unshakeable– Especially when they rest on tautology (‘an exact copy is an exact copy’ is the tautology in this case.)
    Another example of this sort of thing that might be more appropriate to discuss on this forum is the “God is Love” intuition pump that is so often used to produce a certainty that is unshakeable in the presence of material facts to the contrary.

    You say– “There is a certain self-refutation in materialism.”
    I haven’t found a philosophy that doesn’t have problems– maybe that’s why we are still working them through. And it appears there is at least more than one version of this ‘materialism’ stuff.

  379. Mlemaon 03 May 2013 at 9:39 pm

    Sonic,

    “As long as we agree that any conclusions we make thinking about the fantasy we construct are only valid to the extent they agree with the physical realities of the material universe.”

    How about if we don’t make any conclusions? In a way this mental exercise is just a name-calling one. One person calls himself a materialist, and another says “no you’re not” (that was me calling a few people “not a materialist”).

    “for the sake of argument I will accept the notion of the exact copy– but no, that does not prove there are more than one of ‘me’– it just shows you have stretched the analogy beyond its usefulness.”

    really this was about teleporting. We used copying as a means to teleport. I go into a teleporter. I’m scanned. I’m destroyed. The scan is used to build a body that’s physically identical to the one that went into the teleporter (in the same or a different location). Now we pose the question: is that me? I think I hear you saying: none of this can happen in the reality of the physical universe, so, how can entertaining the thought of it prove or disprove that I’m a materialist?

    I think that jasonnyberg, BJ7 and I were simply saying that, based on the materialist’s statement that “I am my brain”, one would answer “yes” to the scenario question because: an exact copy of his brain would still be him. Now I understand that “I am my brain” is most likely not a valid way to state materialism, but that’s the way that people on this site often shorthand their materialist stance.

    The fact that I can’t really know if I would be “me” if I were scanned, destroyed and rebuilt as the same physical configuration doesn’t really come into play in the scenario, because: it’s fantasy. I’m not saying I KNOW I WOULD BE ME. I’m saying, that is what the materialist philosopher in this fantasy would say. There’s no accounting for the plain fact that none of us really knows. We are all stating our beliefs (as materialists or otherwise) because: WE DO NOT KNOW. Perhaps the friction with BillyJoe is he insists he knows, not just believes. That is the “certainty” I think you sense. But if you go back to the beginning and read Dr. N’s post and the whole damn discussion that follows, you’ll see that we’re not making any assertions about reality. I was just playing out the scenario in the way I think a materialist who says “I am my brain” would interpret it. Because: I see a contradiction between how some self-proclaimed materialists here are reacting to the fantasy, and what they profess to believe.

    In the fantasy, (in my interpretation):
    a materialist would say: I’ll still be me
    an idealist would say: If I think I’ll be me, I’ll be me
    a religious person would say: if God wants me to be me, he’ll make it me
    I’m saying: I BELIEVE that IF it were possible to exactly copy me, the copy would be me in the same way I am me IN THAT MOMENT. In the next moment, if both the original and the copy remained, we would become two individuals who would, from that time on, become less like each other.
    and I think you’re saying: it’s invalid because it can’t happen

    fair enough

    now some people are saying: I’ll be dead, and the copy isn’t me. Well, then the question is: who is the physically identical copy?

    “Another example of this sort of thing that might be more appropriate to discuss on this forum is the “God is Love” intuition pump that is so often used to produce a certainty that is unshakeable in the presence of material facts to the contrary.”

    WHAAA….???? my head is spinning around like Regan’s in The Exorcist
    you’re gonna hafta gimme more on this one. I’m not familiar with that “intuition pump”.

  380. jasonnybergon 03 May 2013 at 10:28 pm

    sonic,

    If we take some ‘leeway’ on the ‘exactness’ of the copy — then a question of how much leeway is acceptable comes up.
    Am I Thomas Jefferson reincarnate?, becomes the question of ‘how much leeway you asking for?’– and this isn’t a very good way to make the point– but perhaps you can understand the point of that now– not ‘freaky friday’, but rather ‘how much leeway you want?’
    And given enough leeway– I think we would agree that–”I am he as you are me and we are all together” becomes true– not a sarcastic statement- but rather a consequence of accepting ‘leeway’ in the ‘brain state’ of ‘me’.

    It would be very, very, very improbable for random perturbations in the state of your brain and body to result in a brain-state that was recognizably any other person who actually existed. How did you (or anyone else) develop their particular “brain state?” By living, experiencing, and integrating their life into their physical being.

    No, significant random perturbations would result in varying degrees of brain damage and a physically and mentally degraded instance of you.

    This has been fun, but it seems like the discussion has run out of steam. I’ll keep tabs though…

    Thanks for the debate!

    Jason

  381. Mlemaon 03 May 2013 at 10:53 pm

    Jason, in the experiment, how would we know if the first teleportation had been successful?

  382. Jared Olsenon 04 May 2013 at 4:04 am

    382 responses and counting! Wow. Steve, is this a record?

  383. cogniteon 04 May 2013 at 6:59 am

    “Assuming you accept my meager additions, we’re in sync.”

    As long as it describes your view it’s fine. I would say, though, that a brain state is not enough to make a “you” (or mind, or whatever you would call it). You stated this very well when you defined it:

    “…as the evolving integral of that system of sequential states of matter, including the sense of mind that this evolving integral generates”

    Therefore the individual brain states becomes unimportant. Pick a few out, or make a few changes to them, and you would be no less you.
    This would easily be understood when you consider the situatedness of your brain. Your environment are continually making an impact on your brain which changes your brain states beyond “your” control. With one “you” i don’t suppose you would think that “you” would be not “you” if some small event the previous day had been slightly different? It might have had an impact but that would still be a “you” doing something else today.

    So the brain state thing is largely irrelevant for the discussion.

    “I’m glad you highlighted the ethical problem introduced by allowing the consciousness of the teleportee to branch, something I’ve tried to draw attention to as well. I think it’s the biggest, least comprehended issue that this thread has wrestled with.”

    Yes, it is unnecessary since the whole schism lies in the previous step. Both sides have taken their definitions of continuity and self for granted already and will from that point be unable to understand each other.

    “Are you surprised because you think that assuming the above materialistic position is to deny the existence of a “continuous self”? ”

    Yes.

    (Meanwhile, apparently unable to understand that this is a universally acknowledged consequence of creating a copy of a person, Ditheit is still trying to “explain” ad nauseam that one branch of a duplicated consciousness has a different point of view than the original…)

    What I think Ditheit IS trying to do is to say that his/her idea of continuity differs from yours. It would be nice if the way of arguing the point would evolve, though.

    Where we are in space (sonic?) is not very useful either. It is somewhat arbitrary. There have been no attempt at describing why this would matter or how this would save “you” from the vaporization and replacing at the exact same spot.

    The difference in opinion, to my mind, is still derived from the conception of continuity.
    One side is saying that there is only consecutive brain states and that’s what continuity is
    and the other side is saying that the intuitive sense of continuity exists, where the “you” stays from moment to moment despite the “you” changing. (Is there a better way of explaining this?)

    First of I have a problem with the first view of continuity because of the emphasis on brain states or some particlular momentary thing. Second I do believe in the intuitive sense of continuity. This is why i’m looking forward to eating ice cream tomorrow, I do believe I will be the one tasting the ice cream and not some “I”. The pro teleportation argument would be that it WOULD be I eating the ice cream tomorrow since all that exists is.. and so on. Again there would be no clear definition on self.

    Therefore I would suggest the actual argument, as all claim to be materialists, is in what way the material reality allows for mind/consciousness. Is there an argument for why, when the stuff exists, mind/consciousness could not be “intuitively continuous” in a material universe?
    Intuitively for me the pro teleportation argument would lead to mind/consciousness being some sort of illusion (which would lead to idealism).
    I am partial to biological naturalism and since I also believe it is only relevant to talk about self/mind/consciousness as something like

    “the evolving integral of that system of sequential states of matter, including the sense of mind that this evolving integral generates”

    I see no problem for “intuitive continuity”.

  384. sonicon 04 May 2013 at 12:26 pm

    BillyJoe7-
    I did turn it around– didn’t I?

    In one case you become ‘information that conveys the essence of you’ that could transfer to other physical objects — some sort of ‘essential data’ holding device- perhaps some substrate that could last much longer than your current physical form.

    But in the material world this information is probably only containable in the actual object that is you.

    Suddenly there is no transferable ‘essence’- but rather a singular- unique- physical body in all its glory- a one of a kind- never to be reproduced- singular object in the vastness of space-time.

    And all this fantasy of ‘exact copies’ and such has lead us to conclusions that are not in keeping with reality– no matter how wonderful and hopeful those conclusions might be.

    I don’t think it is invalid for a materialist to notice what I am saying is likely true– the only way to contain the ‘information’ that makes up the ‘essential’ you is in the exact form it is right now- and that exact form is not reproducible or transferable in actual reality.
    Do you?

    Of course we can speculate that a ‘nearly’ exact copy is good enough.
    And I believe the operative word there is ‘speculate’.

    Mlema-
    but people do make conclusions on these ‘scenario’s’.
    (Usually the conclusions involve things you have brought up– some sort of ‘essential information’ would reproduce ‘you’. This leads to the discussions of ‘downloading’ the ‘essential you’ into some other physical substrate– a computer or some such. Perhaps we can just ‘reproduce’ the health parts… This gives us the hope of ‘immortality’ through technology as our ‘essence’ could be saved as ‘information’ in some long lasting substrate.
    Perhaps you haven’t read the books about this.)

    So yes, if the ‘name calling’ was all that was involved I’d agree with you- this is OK for that.
    But if one draws conclusions that are different than “The only thing that will ever be me is this unique, unreproducible body,” then I fear the analogy has gone too far. And that’s what has happened here– right?

    That’s why it’s important not to be ‘against the rules’ to check one’s conclusions against actual physical realities.

    Didn’t mean to freak you— If one contemplates “God is Love”, then he is likely to ‘create’ his own definition of what god is and what love is.
    Having created this for himself he will be very certain that it is correct– after all he understands it better than anyone else in the universe– he created the meanings himself.
    Please note- I’m not saying that god isn’t love or that a teleporter wouldn’t work– I’m saying that this exercise can lead to certainty beyond the what the material facts would support.

    I hope that clears up that comment- and again– I’m not saying the exercise is worthless- I’m just suggesting that a ‘materialist’ (or anyone else) might want to check his conclusions against the actual physical realties to see if he has taken an analogy too far.

    cognite-
    It seems I would agree with your statements more than most.
    Agreed- the request for location was less helpful in making my point than I thought it would be.
    And for the reasons you suggest, probably.
    Thanks- I won’t be using that again.

  385. BillyJoe7on 04 May 2013 at 4:48 pm

    sonic,

    Cognate: “Where we are in space (sonic?) is not very useful either”
    sonic: “Agreed- the request for location was less helpful in making my point than I thought it would be”

    It was your pivotal point. Location in space. And now you’re giving it away?
    And why did you not comment, then, when the scenario in which the vapourisation/duplication occurred in the exact same position as when the body was scanned was first presented.

    Cognate: “the other side is saying that the intuitive sense of continuity exists, where the “you” stays from moment to moment despite the “you” changing”

    This is your position isn’t it.
    Can’t you see that this is the dualist position, despite your efforts to twist it around and say that my view is dualist. How can there be a “you” that persists when the “you” changes. There is no “you” that persists…unless you are a dualist and ascribe to a YOU in the brain, separate and distinct from the brain, that cannot move to the duplicate because it’s in the original.

    Anyway, I’m off to The Great Train Race this morning, so I’d better get some breakfast and make preparations…

  386. cogniteon 04 May 2013 at 6:44 pm

    sonic:
    “It seems I would agree with your statements more than most.”
    Yes, I think we agree on most. I especially like your argument on thought experiment/reality.

    BJ7;
    maybe read the comment before posting next time. I will treat your comment seriously for good form.

    “This is your position isn’t it.”

    I don’t think I could be more clear on this than when I wrote:
    “I do believe in the intuitive sense of continuity”
    and later also:
    “I see no problem for “intuitive continuity”.”

    “Can’t you see that this is the dualist position…”

    May I suggest you stop with the dualist bashing. Its old by now. I never mentioned dualism in connection with your view.
    Finally I tried to make it clear that I do not believe a brain state is a “you” and that a “you” only exists whit change.

    The only thing you got right was the citation. If you go back and read my comment again I am sure you will have a lot of actual objections.

  387. jasonnybergon 04 May 2013 at 8:32 pm

    Mlema:

    Jason, in the experiment, how would we know if the first teleportation had been successful?

    Your question is really, “how do we know the information in the blueprint is an accurate enough representation of the material item?” (Because we already know how to transmit information in a robust manner.)

    And that question is really questioning a premise of the thought experiment.

    I.e. it’s “transporter-technology-specific.”

    sonic:

    I don’t think it is invalid for a materialist to notice what I am saying is likely true– the only way to contain the ‘information’ that makes up the ‘essential’ you is in the exact form it is right now- and that exact form is not reproducible or transferable in actual reality.

    Let me just say that I love it when people draw lines in the sand and say that science will never cross that line.

    Let me also say that if we had technology capable of accurately scanning/reproducing matter at the atomic level at a particular instant in time, using it to merely move us around would be a complete WASTE. I mean, at that point, you’d essentially have the ability to arbitrarily manipulate the material world.

    Arbitrarily. Manipulate. The. Material. World.

    At that point, we would have the technology to accurately model the brain, augment the brain, etc. etc. etc.

    We’d be able to engineer a neo-neocortex that would make our plain-old biological neocortex look like an abacus vs. a modern supercomputer.

    If this thought experiment were actually true, we wouldn’t be worrying about whether or not it’s ethical to kill off our “old, redundant self…”

    No… You’d be paying dearly to recycle every single atom in that body into something better-engineered.

    Life as we know it would be unrecognizable to the us’s of today if we advanced just 1% of the way towards the world of our thought experiment from where we are now.

    cognite:

    Finally I tried to make it clear that I do not believe a brain state is a “you” and that a “you” only exists whit change.

    Do you assume that the definition of “a brain state” wouldn’t (couldn’t?) include its instantaneous rate of change?

    Is there something in the way the brain is changing that is “supernatural”, i.e. it couldn’t be measured or represented?

    A “Dualism In The Derivative,” so to speak?

    (Heh, this debate just got interesting again… :)

    Jason

  388. jasonnybergon 04 May 2013 at 8:34 pm

    Drat, another unclosed tag. Ignore the extra italics towards the end of that last post…

    Jason

  389. Mlemaon 04 May 2013 at 8:38 pm

    Sonic, I’ve written and deleted 3 different responses to your last comment to me. I think my brain is just fried on this particular subject. But I get what you’re saying as far as: in reality, two things that are in different places can’t be identical. What I’m taking away from the entire discussion is: since we really don’t know what consciousness is and what it requires – I can’t say whether I would be dead, or, just different to a small or large degree, or, exactly the same “me”, if I could be teleported.

    It’s an abrupt physical discontinuity. So it points up the question to a materialist: do you believe the arrangement of your physical self is all that’s critical, and, if you think instead that the actual particles exactly where they are right now is what’s critical – why? Because that’s what the scenario drives at: what do you believe makes you: you?

    If there were a way to store all physical information about me, “downloading” it would still be an instantiation with different particles in a way that doesn’t happen instantaneously in reality. If the copy were identical and perfectly embodied all the complete information of my physical self, still, no one, not even me, would be able to tell if I had been successfully teleported. That is because no one knows what it’s like to be me. So if I came out different only to myself, I wouldn’t know because the memory of what it was like to be me before, even if I had the same feeling of myself after, would be gone. But that’s not different from the fact that, even right now in this moment, I don’t know if I’m experiencing being me in the same way I was yesterday. Memory is unreliable. I’m mostly relying on that fact that no one has said to me: you’re really different today than you were yesterday.

  390. Mlemaon 04 May 2013 at 8:59 pm

    Jason

    I asked: “in the experiment, how would we know if the first teleportation had been successful?”

    you answered: “Your question is really, “how do we know the information in the blueprint is an accurate enough representation of the material item?” (Because we already know how to transmit information in a robust manner.)

    And that question is really questioning a premise of the thought experiment.

    I.e. it’s “transporter-technology-specific.”

    Well, as I admitted in my comment to Sonic, I’m getting a little fried on thinking about this, but, even if I accept that the transporter transmits ALL information, since we don’t know in what way “I” is experienced, how do we know that the me that walks out of the teleporter doesn’t now experience BLUE as RED? We can say: because the brain is physically the same, and it’s the brain that causes BLUE to be experienced – so – same physical brain, same blue. BUT, we don’t KNOW that a brain that can be known in every physical way to be the same, won’t instead produce BLUE where RED used to be, because my subjective experience, as compared to your subjective experience IS UNKNOWABLE. On top of that, if the memory that blue used to be where I’m now seeing red is not in place anymore, then I am not the same me that I was AND I don’t know that I’m not the same me that I was.

    Are you groking my question? When I walk out, I say “hey, it worked! I’m still me” but in reality, if I’m not remembering what it felt like to be me when I stepped in, and no one else can discern any difference…how do I know I’m me in the same way that I was?” The experiment is, again, making a leap of faith that we’ve gathered all information (you’ve assured me we have) – but how do we test it? We have only the report of the subject, whose reliability in reporting its current sate compared to its former: is unverifiable.

  391. Mlemaon 04 May 2013 at 9:06 pm

    I guess if we can say: the information is complete and the copy is identical, there’s no difference in reliability between me of today and me of yesterday, and: me of today and teleported me.

  392. sonicon 05 May 2013 at 12:47 am

    Mlema-
    It only took you four tries to come up with that?
    You are doing better than I am. :-)

    Anyway–
    I think you are seeing the problems that I see– specifically we know that a copy can’t be made exactly, we don’t have any idea what ‘close enough is’ …

    Actually your thing about not being able to verify the experiment is something I hadn’t thought of, but I do believe you are correct– how could one verify that it is the same ‘me’ on the other end?
    Brilliant!

    What I’m suggesting is the answer to this thought experiment is as good as one’s imagined answer to questions we don’t have an answer to.

    Note jassonyberg’s reply about what ‘science’ will produce.

    Oh, and an ‘exact copy’ is an ‘exact copy’. Hard to argue that.
    So if the question is “would an exact copy be an exact copy,” well the answer is in the question– right?

    BillyJoe7-
    I’m not giving away the point about location in space– I’m admitting that the way I was trying to make the point – asking ‘where are you?’ didn’t work the way I thought it would.
    At this point I’ve decided to state my position more clearly-

    I don’t think one has to agree to physically impossible things to be a ‘materialist’.
    My further point is that when engaging in fantasy it is not ‘out of bounds’ to compare the results to reality– but rather it is a good idea to do so.

    In fact, at this point I believe that ‘physical continuity’ has been demonstrated to be very important as the only way to make it unimportant is to believe in things that are physically impossible (an exact copy) as far as we know.

    jassonyberg-
    I believe there are ‘laws’ of physics that make the ‘arbitrary manipulation of matter’ an unlikely outcome of future discoveries.
    I’d be happy to be wrong about that- BTW.

  393. jasonnybergon 05 May 2013 at 1:26 am

    Well, as I admitted in my comment to Sonic, I’m getting a little fried on thinking about this, but, even if I accept that the transporter transmits ALL information, since we don’t know in what way “I” is experienced, how do we know that the me that walks out of the teleporter doesn’t now experience BLUE as RED? We can say: because the brain is physically the same, and it’s the brain that causes BLUE to be experienced – so – same physical brain, same blue. BUT, we don’t KNOW that a brain that can be known in every physical way to be the same, won’t instead produce BLUE where RED used to be, because my subjective experience, as compared to your subjective experience IS UNKNOWABLE. On top of that, if the memory that blue used to be where I’m now seeing red is not in place anymore, then I am not the same me that I was AND I don’t know that I’m not the same me that I was.

    Are you groking my question? When I walk out, I say “hey, it worked! I’m still me” but in reality, if I’m not remembering what it felt like to be me when I stepped in, and no one else can discern any difference…how do I know I’m me in the same way that I was?” The experiment is, again, making a leap of faith that we’ve gathered all information (you’ve assured me we have) – but how do we test it? We have only the report of the subject, whose reliability in reporting its current sate compared to its former: is unverifiable.

    Alright then… I can attempt to tackle this from multiple levels.

    First off, yes, no one can tell how anyone else subjectively perceives the world. All we have are the labels we slap on things. I.e. I point to something and say, “That’s blue!”, and then you either say “Yup!”, or you say “No, that’s RED!” and depending upon what everyone else thinks it is, one of us is going to get funny looks.

    So, if my copy and I agree on “blue”, and “red”, and everything else too, it means the neural associations are all wired up right. Experimentally, if you could trace signals through the synapses and could pinpoint activated neurons, you should be able to stimulate each copy’s retinas with blue photons, you should see connections to, and activations within, many of the same places that light up when the spoken word “blue” is fed into their ears. For deeply learned “BC” (Before Copy) brain associations, each “AD” (After Duplication) brain should see the same individual neurons and connections light up as the other when given the the same stimulations, even after they’ve started to diverge.

    None of this actually answers your question about whether, even if they both call blue things “blue”, one “sees” blue in their mind’s eye the same way the other does… But if the copy is “good”, associations with blue will be intact.

    Is the fact that I “see” colors in my mind’s eye just an illusion? It’s funny, I just did an experiment: I closed my eyes and imagined “blue”. I do not see the color blue in my mind’s eye. I try to picture a “golden retriever” and try to see it’s color; I cannot. It feels like it’s there, just outside the visual field of my mind’s eye…

    Interesting. Have I just messed up my mind by cogitating over this? :)

    Do even I perceive blue today the same way I saw blue yesterday? One second ago? I have no idea. If my copy and I are in universal agreement about all things “blue” though, does it even matter?

    IMHO, I’d say that if the Future-FMRI and the Teleportation Turing Tests check out, you’re good to go.

    Jason

  394. BillyJoe7on 05 May 2013 at 3:33 am

    Cognate,

    My post was addressed to sonic.
    I was just using quotes from your post against him.
    Perhaps that wasn’t clear.

  395. BillyJoe7on 05 May 2013 at 3:50 am

    …BTW, the race went well. I beat the train and improved my time by nearly two minutes.
    Well…I think it was me anyway. I sure didn’t notice the duplication if it happened, so that’s good enough for me.

  396. sonicon 05 May 2013 at 11:20 am

    BillyJoe7-
    Good to hear the race went well. Two minutes seems quite an improvement.

    If your argument is that there is no ‘you’ in the first place,– or that ‘you’ only last one moment of consciousness, then the discussion should be about if you would be killed by a bullet to the head (assuming the shot caused a body to fall and that a doctor would declare the body immediately ‘dead’.)
    It appears that your current position is that such a bullet to the head would not kill you.

    If a bullet to the head would kill you, then you have a continuing existence.
    If a bullet to the head would not kill you, then I would suggest that there is a problem with the definition of ‘you’ that is being used.

    How’s that?

  397. BillyJoe7on 05 May 2013 at 5:34 pm

    sonic,

    For the materialist, there is only the illusion of self which is just part of the functioning of the brain. If it was possible to code all the information in a brain at one instant of time and use that information to create another brain in the same state, then the illusion of self in that brain would be identical. Everything is physical, therefore the original brain is physical, the coded information from the original brain that is transferred to the duplicate brain is physical, and the newly created duplicate brain is physical.

    For the dualist, there is a actual self, which is non-physical. Being non-physical, the self cannot be coded and transferred and therefore cannot appear in the duplicate. Therefore, if someone is to insist that he is the original and that he is not the duplicate, this means that he is taking the dualist stance on the problem of identity. What he really means, whether he realise it or not, is that there is something over and above the physical that remains part of the original and that does not and can not appear in the duplicate.

    That’s about as clear as I can put it.
    And I really do not understand the problem you have with duplication being physically impossible. It is merely a tool to help understand the materialist v dualist position on the problem of identity. As such, it doesn’t matter if it is impossible as long as it helps. Apparently it doesn’t help you. All I can say is that it did help me many years ago. At the time, I was fully aware that duplication is merely a thought experiment and not actually physically ossible. But I did understand the usefulness of “thought experiments” to tease out problems such as these.

    “Good to hear the race went well. Two minutes seems quite an improvement”

    Thanks. Right after last year’s race I sustained an injury which put me off running for eight months, though I was able to maintain cardiovascular fitness by cycling. So I had only two months to get back to my base level of running fitness and another two months to train for the event, which is a thirteen kilometre run through the Dandenong Ranges. It’s a truly beautiful experience.

  398. Mlemaon 06 May 2013 at 3:40 am

    Congrats BillyJoe :)

  399. Mlemaon 06 May 2013 at 3:47 am

    Sonic and Jason: thanks for your last comments.

  400. sonicon 06 May 2013 at 5:56 pm

    BillyJoe7-
    2 minutes off a 13 kilometre run?
    That is impressive.
    Are you thinking to include more biking and less running in your future workouts?

    Anyway–
    When I did the thought experiment I came to the conclusion that physical continuity wouldn’t matter– But when I compared this to actual reality and I realized it was an error.

    I decided that it would be a mistake for a materialist to base his conception of self (or anything else for that matter) on a thought experiment that produced exactly the wrong answer to a physical question (does physical continuity matter?– the real answer is ‘absolutely’, just in case you got confused).

    At this point I looked at the formulation of the exercise to see how it could produce the exactly wrong answer– and realized there were a number of problems- including the notion of the ‘exact’ copy- an ‘exact’ copy in the material universe could only exist in the ‘exact’ space-time location as the original (thus my discussion about location– not a dualist notion but rather a recognition of the nature of space-time.)

    Anyway, taking this extra step leads to an understanding that is different than the analysis that stopped at the place motivated by the desire to find differences.

    And it sure makes all this talk of ‘downloading my essence in the form of information’ or whatever I hear ‘materialists’ talking about seem like a wacky religion based on the hopes of those accepting physical impossibility as the basis for belief.

    Perhaps that is why I took the approach I did.

    And yes, I realize it is all wrong to do the things I do. :-)

    You know- I bet we will get along fantastically as soon as we both realize that ‘hey– that guy is smarter than I’ve given him credit for.’

    I’m willing to try– how about you?

  401. cogniteon 06 May 2013 at 6:29 pm

    BJ7:
    “My post was addressed to sonic.
    I was just using quotes from your post against him.
    Perhaps that wasn’t clear.”

    Not clear to me. Sorry.

    Jason:
    “Do you assume that the definition of “a brain state” wouldn’t (couldn’t?) include its instantaneous rate of change?”

    Of course it could. What I was replying to was that there could not be a “you” when the “you” is changing. Rather I would say there is no “you” if “you” are not changing.

    The brain states are still irrelevant either way. I would guess no matter which view you hold you would have to say this. All views would have to accept change coming from without and within as it does in the real world. I think all would accept certain cognitive enhancements, neural implants, as well. Or erasing embarrassing memories or habits. For the pro teleportation side; why not do that in transit, while teleporting? You would arrive with a different brain state from when you left but why would that matter? You would still be a “you”. As long as it’s a possible derivative of the neuroblastoma once developing in your mothers belly, or how ever you would want to define it.

    “Is there something in the way the brain is changing that is “supernatural”, i.e. it couldn’t be measured or represented?”

    Not supernatural.
    I dare you to measure subjectivity/consciousness in a way that distinguishes it from a “Chinese room”-version, though.

    Jason and BJ7:
    Do you see subjectivity/consciousness/”sense of mind” as pure illusion, epiphenomenon or existing but simply momentary, what is it to you?
    Are you concluding from materialism that there can be no mind, for instance?

  402. jasonnybergon 07 May 2013 at 1:43 pm

    sonic,

    At this point I looked at the formulation of the exercise to see how it could produce the exactly wrong answer– and realized there were a number of problems- including the notion of the ‘exact’ copy- an ‘exact’ copy in the material universe could only exist in the ‘exact’ space-time location as the original (thus my discussion about location– not a dualist notion but rather a recognition of the nature of space-time.)

    So there’s no such thing as “sufficient fidelity” to you, only “exact copy” can satisfy you…

    Earlier I called that fleeing into “quantum uncertainty.”

    Whatevs…

    cognite,

    “Is there something in the way the brain is changing that is “supernatural”, i.e. it couldn’t be measured or represented?”
    Not supernatural.
    I dare you to measure subjectivity/consciousness in a way that distinguishes it from a “Chinese room”-version, though.

    As I’ve stated many times, IMHO subjectivity/consciousness/mind would be captured within a sufficiently detailed scan of the material brain. IMHO you wouldn’t need to (nor could you) measure “subjectivity” directly. By definition.

    Jason and BJ7:
    Do you see subjectivity/consciousness/”sense of mind” as pure illusion, epiphenomenon or existing but simply momentary, what is it to you?
    Are you concluding from materialism that there can be no mind, for instance?

    What an odd question! Of course the mind “exists”. It exists like the color purple “exists”, I.e. as a product of the function of the brain.

    Jason

  403. cogniteon 12 May 2013 at 4:28 pm

    Jason:
    “you wouldn’t need to (nor could you) measure “subjectivity” directly. By definition.”

    So it would not be possible to differentiate between a consciousness and a chineese room version of that consciousness? Would you say that a difference exists? I suppose you do not think the room would necessarily be conscious and on the other hand I suppose you do not think consciousness would only be realizable in brains.

    “What an odd question! Of course the mind “exists”. It exists like the color purple “exists”, I.e. as a product of the function of the brain.”

    So I’m guessing you see it as epiphenomenal then, without causal effect?

  404. jasonnybergon 16 May 2013 at 9:33 am
    Jason:
    “you wouldn’t need to (nor could you) measure “subjectivity” directly. By definition.”

    So it would not be possible to differentiate between a consciousness and a chineese room version of that consciousness? Would you say that a difference exists? I suppose you do not think the room would necessarily be conscious and on the other hand I suppose you do not think consciousness would only be realizable in brains.

    “What an odd question! Of course the mind “exists”. It exists like the color purple “exists”, I.e. as a product of the function of the brain.”

    So I’m guessing you see it as epiphenomenal then, without causal effect?

    Sorry, but I’m having trouble following your train of thought. Are you arguing against the notion that you can measure subjective perceptions? That, for instance, you can measure and comprehend directly how I perceive the color purple?

    (Not to mention the fact that every question you asked me was in the form of presuming my answer, and presuming it incorrectly. I’ve never quite seen such an extreme form of “presumptuous” argument…)

    Re: “Chinese Room Brains,”

    A) Of course you could tell them apart, unless you’re proposing a “black box” type of scenario. Different implementations have different features, even if they produce the same/equivalent results.

    B) A “Chinese Room” simulation of a human brain, that functions like a real brain would, would of course be conscious; that’s what functioning brains do. (But you still wouldn’t be able to “see” how it “sees” purple. You could agree with each other that what you’re looking at is purple (an indirect measurement), but that’s not the same as measuring its subjective experience of purple.)

    Re: “you see it [the mind] as epiphenomenal then, without causal effect?”

    What?? I don’t know how much simpler I can state it: Brain function “causes” the mind.

    The function of the brain is to make sense of the world in order to be able to react within it in an advantageous fashion. The mind arises from a brain making sense of itself. (IMHO)

    Jason

  405. cogniteon 20 May 2013 at 5:43 pm

    Jason:

    Clearly you can not think that any representation or simulation of a brain would automatically be conscious?

    “A “Chinese Room” simulation of a human brain, that functions like a real brain would, would of course be conscious; that’s what functioning brains do.”

    I did not write of a room that functions like a brain (ie a brain) but that represents a you (represents, not simulates).

    “Are you arguing against the notion that you can measure subjective perceptions?”

    I was responding to your statement:

    “Is there something in the way the brain is changing that is “supernatural”, i.e. it couldn’t be measured or represented?”

    with the challenge of measuring (directly) subjective experience. My example of the Chinese room was aimed at the subjective experience, nothing else; could you measure specifically if one had a subjective experience and the other did not?
    You your self answered your own question:

    “you wouldn’t need to (nor could you) measure “subjectivity” directly. By definition.”

    But that is just an assertion. Based on what?

    “I don’t know how much simpler I can state it: Brain function “causes” the mind.”

    Therefore; epiphenomenalism. If the mind is “caused” by the mind it does not get to cause behavior. That would be done by the brain at the same time as the mind is being caused. Therefore no causal role for the mind.

    Finally, I think I see the root to our differences regarding teleportation:
    You keep answering phenomenological questions with functional arguments.
    If your world is strictly functional, a bit Dennetian perhaps, I can see your point regarding survival.

    Unfortunately to me the world is phenomenological and full of qualia. I experience the world through qualia first and can not escape it without escaping the world as well.
    I do believe it is unwise to challenge a process that can only exist as extended in time on the grounds of its poor definition in the now.
    I do not believe ill defined concepts such as a self is a good reason to dismiss intuitive continuation of self.
    I do believe it is a continuum fallacy to claim the exchange of one neuron as dammaging as vaporizing them all and then recreate them.
    I do believe you are making a category error in going from particles to selves.

    Well, that’s what I take from this discussion. I was going to call you a panpsychic or an idealist as well but I’ll save that for another time.

  406. sonicon 20 May 2013 at 10:22 pm

    BillyJoe7-
    Sorry it took me so long to get back to you–
    I would like to better understand what you are saying about the difference between a materialist and a dualist.
    To that end–
    1) Define ‘physical’
    2) If it is not possible to code all the information in the brain at one instant, then does this mean that the ‘self’ is unique and cannot be transferred to another structure?
    3) Is an ‘illusion’ physical? If so, then why is the ‘self’ not real? If not, then how is the position of the dualist different from the materialist? Both seem to be claiming that the ‘self’ is ‘non-physical’. And if it is not possible to code all the information at once, then both sides would agree that this ‘non-physical’ self can’t be duplicated through ‘physical’ means– right?

    Perhaps there is more to this.

    jasonnyberg-
    ‘Sufficient fidelity’ leads to numerous questions that I can’t answer–
    What would have to be duplicated? How close is close enough? Is there any way to test that? Are my misconceptions about how the physical actually works hindering my ability to see how this is a) done or b) impossible?

    and so on.

    Suppose that it turns out that, like the ‘perpetual motion machine’, it is not possible to reproduce the conscious entity that is ‘you’.

    Would the philosophy of materialism be wrong or would it just accept the finding as part of the underlying truth of the material that the universe is actually made of?

  407. Mlemaon 21 May 2013 at 3:27 am

    I think in the “thought experiment” the transporter is a machine that can reproduce my physical self in every way – regardless of whether or not any human can know what “every way” is. It’s a fantastical machine. But it’s true that if it’s physically impossible to create a teleporter, then the thought experiment can’t reveal anything useful about the philosophy of physicalism (the modern name of materialism). But it can still reveal what my “feelings” are about being a physical being, if I make the assumption: it’s possible to move a human from point A to point B by copying him (using all the information about his physical self to build an identical self, and simultaneously disassembling his original self)

    The theoretical question is: If I am every bit “physical”, and physical is ALL that i am, then the transporter should be able to move ME from one place to another (if it is physically possible to move my complete physical self in every way, even the ways that are unknown). If I believe there’s something about me that’s non-physical, i might be afraid that the non-physical wouldn’t “stick” with the physical and “move over” (as Dr. Novella seems to say).

    On the other hand, I might believe that there’s something about me that’s non-physical, but is ALWAYS with any configuration of me that IS physical (like the code represented by my dna – as an example of an informational piece of content)

    Sonic, I think that the consideration of time adds a very interesting element to the experiment. I’m unable to conceptualize how it might effect things. (but mostly unwilling to think about it :) However, for the sake of the experiment, we could say: we have figured time into the process – because we have come to understand every physical aspect of human: including how he exists in time.

    Lastly, there are unknowable elements beyond the unknowable physical ones. Such as: no one can ever know whether the transporter is working as we want it to – since no one can know the subjective experience of anyone else.

  408. BillyJoe7on 21 May 2013 at 8:11 am

    sonic,

    “1) Define ‘physical’”

    I will answer, but I’m not going on a wild goose chase.
    I think of it as physical/material/natural v non-physical/immaterial/supernatural.
    The first category includes entities made up of the elementary quantum particles and forces* and everything that derives from the interaction of these entities. So, for example, brains are made up of enitities that are made up of these quantum elements and are therefore in the first category; and the interaction of these entities within the brain produces the mind which is therefore also in the first category.

    *http://www.phys.ufl.edu/~korytov/phz6355/note_A01_SMsummary_NaturalUnits.pdf

    “2) If it is not possible to code all the information in the brain at one instant, then does this mean that the ‘self’ is unique and cannot be transferred to another structure?”

    For the materialist, the ‘self’ does not exist, so your question is meaningless.

    “3) Is an ‘illusion’ physical?”

    Yes, by definition, an ‘illusion’ is in the first category.

    “If so, then why is the ‘self’ not real?”

    Saying that the ‘illusion of self’ is real, is surely another way of saying that the ‘self’ is not real.
    They are mutually exclusive.
    Think of the checkerboard illusion. The illusion that the colours of A and B are different is real. Meaning that the brain really does see A and B as if they were different colours. But it is not a fact that A and B are different colours (because they actually reflect exactly the same wavelength of light). If it was a fact that A and B are different colours, than it wouldn’t be an illusion that they are different colours. And vice versa.
    They are mutually exclusive.

    “If not, then how is the position of the dualist different from the materialist? Both seem to be claiming that the ‘self’ is ‘non-physical’.”

    The dualist puts the ‘self’ in the second category.
    The materialist says the ‘self’ does not exist.

    “And if it is not possible to code all the information at once, then both sides would agree that this ‘non-physical’ self can’t be duplicated through ‘physical’ means– right?”

    The dualist says the ‘self’ cannot be duplicated.
    The materialist says the ‘self’ does not exist.

  409. BillyJoe7on 21 May 2013 at 5:52 pm

    Perhaps I should summarise as follows:

    The dualist puts the ‘self’ in the non-physical category, meaning that it would not be duplicated.
    The materialist says the ‘self’ does not exist.
    The materialist puts the ‘illusion of self’ in the physical category, meaning that it would be duplicated.

  410. sonicon 22 May 2013 at 1:50 am

    BillyJoe7-
    Your reply begins “I will…” and ends “The materialist says the ‘self’ does not exist.”

    I (my self) should have asked you to define ‘self’– my bad.

    I believe the current medical definition would be-
    Self= the union of elements (as body, emotions, thoughts, and sensations) that constitute the individuality and identity of a person

    If we accept that definition, then the ‘self’ exists (Joe is not Bill because they have different bodies, emotions, thoughts…), although it may be true that our perception of our individuality and identity is flawed.

    That is to say– just because we see the colors on the checkerboard incorrectly (an illusion) doesn’t mean there isn’t a checkerboard (a real object).

    Perhaps you have a different definition– or am I misreading the implications of the one I’m stating?

  411. BillyJoe7on 22 May 2013 at 6:47 am

    sonic,

    Our language is dualist, so hang me. |:

    The original definition of “self” was synonymous with spirit and soul – something residing in the brain but separate from the brain controlling the brain’s output.
    Dualists believe in the “self” as defined above.
    Materialists do not believe in the “self” as defined above.

    That new definition of “self” sounds more like the definition of the materialist’s “illusion of self”.

    So, yeah, if we re-define the word, materialists can believe in the “self”.
    Problem is that there is then nowhere for the dualist to hang his coat.

  412. sonicon 22 May 2013 at 2:29 pm

    BillyJoe7-
    I think the word ‘sensation’ would include ‘qualia’ and ‘states of consciousness’ which would give plenty of places for a coat if one were looking to hang one.
    Anyway, I understand the definitions you are using and agree with what you are saying about the differences.

  413. Christopher Newellon 24 May 2013 at 10:12 am

    The key to understanding the problem of continuity lies in causality. When we talk about a particular river we assign it a name. The water in the river changes from minute to minute, so the river can’t be said to be the water. The banks of the river change over time changing the path that the water follows, so the river neither can be defined by its course on the landscape. Yet when we talk about the river we refer to it with the same name at different points in its history despite these changes in its form and content. The thing that makes the river of today the same river of the past is the causal connection between them. River A becomes river B. People likewise change throughout their lives both in their form and physical makeup, but are causally linked to their former selves. Causality provides the continuity that makes me as a baby and me as an adult the same person.
    When subject A steps into the transporter and is destroyed and subject B appears on the planet’s surface, the thing that makes them the same person is the causal relationship between the two. Subject B cannot exist without there having been a subject A. They’re the same person connected by a seamless sequence of events. Subject B hijacks the causal stream and proceeds to live a life indistinguishable from the original subject.
    In a scenario where two individuals exist simultaneously, they can no longer be the same person in the same universe because of their inability to occupy the same place at the same time. They can’t both marry the same girl, get the same job etc. and so from that instant separate causal streams with separate futures exist for each of them. They are not the same person, therefore this version of the thought experiment doesn’t reveal a problem with continuity.

  414. Caueon 29 May 2013 at 3:00 pm

    Steven (or Jay), hope you can read this.

    I was just hearing the mentioned podcast and I can’t believe on all confusion J was doing. Maybe this line of thought can help.

    I think the problem can be narrowed down to one question:

    - Where does consciousness come from?

    If it really comes from the brain then yes, simply replicating it wouldn’t be continuous and would make us lose ourselves in a “tele-transporter” where our cells are recreated (that doesn’t exclude the way-too-remote-possibility of actually moving cells and matter faster than light). Steve’s approach of slowly merging the brain into cybernetics would be the only way to keep the continuity.

    But what if it doesn’t come from the brain? We have no evidence for this at all, but our evidence to the contrary, while existent, is actually very poor. Basically we know a malfunctioning brain presents no consciousness. As said in the article, someone who goes through a full surgery will lose it completely, because the brain has been shut down. Brain on, consciousness back. How was **that** continuity not lost? I could argue about some “data is saved” in the brain / body matter, but we don’t truly know that.

    My point is, only when we are able to fully replicate a human brain at its current state, a simple test could be done to solve it:

    1. make the original brain deeply memorize something
    2. shut it down
    3. turn it back on, test to see if it remembers
    4. repeat until get a fail-proof procedure of memorizing

    Then:

    1. copy original brain to new brain, keeping the new one shut off
    2. make the original brain deeply memorize something new for sure (as seen before)
    3. shut it down (we can safely do that nowadays already)
    4. turn on the new brain, see if it remembers
    5. turn back on the original brain

    Until then, we can only hypothesize. I believe it’s mostly evident today the *new* brain would not remember anything (in which I think I agree with Steve)… But I wouldn’t be all that surprised if it did remember.

  415. Digital Poltergeiston 05 Dec 2013 at 12:12 pm

    The problem with teleportation is that you’ll never know. In fact you CAN’T know. Someone steps in and someone theoretically identical steps out. There’s no way for anybody to know, especially the person that steps out, if they two are the same person. People who believe that it’s the same person have to explain how this is the case when the original is not destroyed. “The Prestige” exemplifies this point. What you’ve essentially done is create a bunch of offspring force grown to adulthood with all your memories. As I believe it was a character of Daniel Keys Moran who said in regards to cloning and “consciousness transfer”, “its a good way to give a total stranger all my problems.”

    “Digital immortality” is even worse because it’s obviously not the same person. Bart Kosko’s “Nanotime” disgusted me for trying to portray the process of swapping someone’s “consciousness” over to a chip as being the same person. In the book he actually has the main character get his brain scooped out and replaced with a chip with his “consciousness” transferred to the chip and much ado is made about the character not being able to tell the difference even as it is happening piece by piece in real time. This book is so bad I don’t really remember anything else about it but the parts that pissed me off.

    As for whether I’d care if the copy or me was destroyed? Either one would be murder so of course I’d care about both. However, if forced to choose, I’d sure as hell choose me over a copy, even a super high fidelity copy. Only way I’d ever step into a teleporter or have my mind ported to a chip is if I was set to die upon not doing so. However, when the copy got to the other end, he’d have no illusions about who he was and wasn’t.

    Beggars can’t be choosers.

  416. Alex Ponebshekon 14 Feb 2014 at 9:06 pm

    I ended up coming to this post, a bit frustrated, after listening to the latest SGU special feature. An interesting discussion as always, but not for the first time it seemed like it fell to Rebecca to be a solitary voice of reason, and it was a bit surreal listening to several of my favorite skeptical minds worrying about such vague concepts as continuity of consciousness and whether their molecules are made out of different atoms.

    Steve, you’re right that the sleep analogy is crap, but I don’t need it. My argument is that “continuity of consciousness” is an entirely conjured, sentimental notion. The premise here is that we can take an exact snapshot of your body at an instant in time. By that premise, we’d have perfect continuity from the physical processes pre and post teleportation. If we *don’t* have that premise, then I’ll be the first to admit this gets a lot more complicated. But with that premise intact, there simply would be two of you (in the malfunction hypothetical) who both have continuity of consciousness from the original.

    I 100% agree with Rebecca that all of the arguments about it not being the same person, reek of “ghost in the machine” thinking. If you don’t have a naturalistic view of human consciousness, then go ahead and stop reading this comment because it will be pointless, but the impression I got on the episode was that you all do. In that case, your brain is just a piece of computing hardware. That’s all it is. Copy the hardware, copy the software state, and you have continuity.

    When you have to “move” a server, and you do it by imaging the drive across the internet to an identical hardware rig, is it the same server? Maybe technically not, but who cares? It has the same hostname, behaves the same way, the sysadmins will call it the same thing, and the other hosts on the network will interact with it as if it were the old server. A scientific mindset involves asking the questions that have real significance in the world and are testable. You will never be able to test the difference between your identical copies (if you can, you have defeated the premise of the hypothetical). The you who was killed doesn’t care due to being dead, and the you who still lives feels like the original in every way. You would all, I’m sure, have to agree that if you *did* step into the teleporter, and then felt like you weren’t yourself anymore, that it would be purely a psychological hang-up and not the cause-and-effect result of being made out of different atoms.

    To feel like you have some “continuity of consciousness” beyond the state of every physical process in your brain, without any evidence or any conceivable way to ever find evidence or falsify that claim, is irrationally sentimental at best, and it’s hard to see how it’s not magical thinking. The silver lining, I guess, is that whatever the extra thing that, along with your brain-copy, completes the consciousness pie, probably goes to some fancy heaven when you die. I hope heaven has dozens of Rebecca.

    As an exercise, somebody please write me up a definition of “continuity of consciousness” that you can sit back and read to yourself without feeling like a pseudoscientist.

    If anything I’m more extreme than Rebecca, because I don’t see a need for the strict rule on not existing at the same time. I would draw the line at probably about an hour diverged, because losing an hour of time is less inconvenient than having to deal with unwanted copies out there in the world. And an hour of memory is all I’d be losing, since everything else is fully intact in the other copy. Do I want backups of myself in cold storage in case I kick the bucket? Absolutely, but they don’t need to be walking around until I’m confirmed dead…

  417. Jorjon 16 Feb 2014 at 2:57 am

    I think I’ve finally wrapped my head around this.
    Imagine a person is copied in the transporter but is not destroyed in the process. So now there is the original person and the transported person. The original person’s consciousness is unchanged and continues normally. The transported person has a newly created consciousness (with the original person’s memories/stuff up to the point of the copy).
    The important point is that although the transported person has the same memories as the original person (at time of transport), it is not because the consciousness has been transferred.. there is no transferal of consciousness.. a new consciousness has been created as a product of the transportation process (creating a new body). There are now two distinct consciousnesses.

    So if the original person is destroyed in the transporter, that consciousness ends. The new consciousness continues with the copy, but it is not the same consciousness as the original.
    If you step into the transporter, it goes black for you and that’s the end. Sure, a copy of you is created over there, but you do not wake up in the copy.. the copy wakes up in the copy.

    Does that make sense?

  418. Alex Ponebshekon 18 Feb 2014 at 2:06 am

    And what’s your evidence that this is a new, different consciousness? That there are two now, so they can’t be the same one? It seems to me that this all stems from our own psychology. To me it feels like I am an individual, and that if there were another like me, no matter how exact a copy, he would still be different and not me.

    Consciousness is a very powerful feeling, I will grant you. We as humans have a very strong sense of self and other, and I don’t fault anyone for letting their brain fully convince them that anything outside their current body is strictly and forever other. But what we have in this hypothetical is a neatly-wrapped guarantee that this thing is exactly equal to you, only with the detail of being built up from different identical atoms thrown in to confuse your instincts.

    I don’t fault anyone for puzzling over it, and I certainly have for years, but I think the inevitable conclusion if you adhere strictly to the scientific consensus, is that there would be no justifiable reason to worry about the notion of a consciousness that is a copy of yours but different, unless you make the mistake of letting them exist at the same time for too long (and I’m sure reasonable people will forever vary wildly on how long is too long). But life is full of rational options that we avoid for emotional reasons.

    To anyone who takes a supernatural view of human consciousness, though, my gut instinct is that if the teleporter’s timing is reasonably good, your proper consciousness will just find the new host I will admit I can’t support this case.

  419. Bill Openthalton 18 Feb 2014 at 6:44 am

    Alex –

    The only thing that matters is the information, like in your server analogy. And just like the information contents of computer, it really doesn’t matter if the hardware is the same, as long as it is compatible (cf. transferring a physical server to a virtualised one). A clone (in the sense of an exact copy of a human at a particular moment of its life) will have the same “state” at the moment of cloning, and then immediately diverge because the sensory input it receives will be different (if only because the bodies will be in different locations and might be in different physical condition). You’ll have two distinct people with the same memories and state up to a specific point in time. No problems whatsoever with co-existence.

    Consciousness is nothing more than the ability to obtain information on the state of a (mental) process combined with the ability to communicate that state to another entity. It’s not an identifiable “something”, merely a convenient shorthand describing a process.

  420. BillyJoe7on 18 Feb 2014 at 8:05 am

    Alex,

    I completely agree with your analysis. To believe otherwise is to be a dualist – there is an essential “you” (a spirit or soul; a ghost on the machine) in the original that is not in the copy. But, where you can find no material difference, there is no difference. Thought experiments where the copy and original have no way of telling who is who, illustrate this very clearly. Each feels themselves completely and equally to be the original. And they are. There are just two now instead of just one.

  421. Jorjon 18 Feb 2014 at 11:27 am

    Alex: “And what’s your evidence that this is a new, different consciousness?”

    Evidence? Well, my reasoning is that consciousness arises from the physics of our body (in particular, our brain). Therefore, if another body is constructed exactly the same as another, alive and well, the other body will have its own consciousness that arises from its body, independent from the original body’s consciousness.

    I guess I was trying to point out that the consciousness of the person who steps into the transporter ends and another consciousness that is functionally equivalent to the original is created with the new body. I can’t imagine that anyone would want to actually use a transporter like this because they are letting their consciousness end when they are disassembled.
    It doesn’t matter to the person who steps into the transporter that their copy has an equivalent consciousness or not because they are dead.

  422. Bronze Dogon 18 Feb 2014 at 12:23 pm

    When you get anesthetized for surgery, your consciousness pretty much stops. When the drug wears off, your brain constructs a consciousness with the same memories and general personality based on its physical state. Is it the same consciousness?

    The differences I see the transporter make: 1) there’s the potential for duplication of a consciousness if the reading process isn’t inherently destructive, and 2) the same atoms aren’t being used before and after.

  423. Jorjon 18 Feb 2014 at 8:15 pm

    - Bronze Dog

    That’s an interesting point.

    I don’t know enough about how the brain works, but I think there are two ways to consider it:

    1) Consciousness is merely suppressed, and that continuity is maintained through the subconscious. The brain is still active while anesthetized. I’m not sure if people dream while anesthetized or not. Maybe the dreams are simply not being saved by the brain, as is sometimes the case when we sleep.

    2) All brain function related to identity/consciousness does indeed stop and continuity is broken. Not sure exactly how to phrase that… but anyway, if this is the case, then I think you are right.

  424. Alex Ponebshekon 19 Feb 2014 at 4:07 am

    “Therefore, if another body is constructed exactly the same as another, alive and well, the other body will have its own consciousness that arises from its body, independent from the original body’s consciousness.”

    I think it’s a mistake to call exact copies independent. It confuses the issue, and this continues to be my point, without any gain in understanding that you could ever apply to the real world. Given time to coexist they will diverge and become independent, but for that moment in the hypothetical when they are exactly identical, they are one consciousness residing in two places. If you could somehow feed them the exact same inputs, they might continue to be identical forever, or I dunno, depends on quantum physics stuff. I digress. My point is that, as compelling as the illusion of individuality is, you’re not an individual when you have an exact duplicate. For that moment you and the copy are the same, and if allowed to exist, will experience the same sense of individuality, not as separate individuals, but as the same individual with severed contact to herself. Nothing but time and different environments will turn you into two separate individuals.

  425. Jorjon 19 Feb 2014 at 8:33 am

    - Alex

    I don’t really understand why you think that the original and copy must share the same consciousness at the time of copying. I don’t understand how that could be possible.
    As I see it, there are two brains in different locations. Since I’m assuming that consciousness is a product of the brain functioning, each brain would have a separate consciousness regardless of how perfectly identical the copies are.

  426. Bronze Dogon 19 Feb 2014 at 10:50 am

    Regarding anesthetization, it depends somewhat on consciousness versus unconsciousness. At least in my case, I’ve had a distinct memory of a time jump. Idle conversation with the anesthesiologist while waiting for it to kick in immediately followed by feeling groggy and in some pain in my hospital bed, being told the surgery was completed. I don’t rule out the possibility that I was in some kind of conscious state for a while where I simply wasn’t recording memories.

    Back to transporters, they’d be two separate but initially identical consciousnesses. If Bob gets copied, you have Bob 1 and Bob 2. I suppose the question is whether you consider each consciousness inherently valuable, or whether you value having at least one instantiation of a unique individual continuing, or value in proportion to the level of uniqueness.

    Let’s change it up to some cloning scenarios to try to sort out emotions at the least:

    1) Bob gets cloned perfectly. Immediately after the cloning, someone throws a grenade and Bob 1, being both selfless and the closest, throws himself on it to save everyone, including Bob 2. Would you feel a sense of loss?

    2) William Riker and Thomas Riker: A person gets copied without his knowledge, and without the copy knowing that he’s a copy. For some reason or another, the copy is isolated from the original’s social circles. Both instances live different lives from that point on before meeting years later. If one is killed, would you feel a sense of loss? Does it matter which one?

    3) Someone offers to build you a backup clone. You can update it whenever it’s convenient, so if you die, the clone can pick up your life from your last save. Is this deal worthwhile to you?

    4) You are offered a backup clone that is continually and automatically updated via a brain scanning implant in your head. The clone can pick up your life from the moments before your death. Is this deal worthwhile to you?

  427. Jorjon 22 Feb 2014 at 5:40 am

    - Bronze Dog

    I think that 1) and 2) are the same situation. As I see it, the transporter is essentially creating a new life with the characteristics of the original person, so I would feel a sense of loss if either perished. The fact that the copy and the original are equivalent is irrelevant to the sense of loss I would feel because they are both living creatures.
    If I was cloned, I would view my clone simply as another person, albeit very similar to me.

    For 3) and 4), I don’t think it really matters to me that my clone continues on after I die. I will still be dead. I suppose if it was important to others that my knowledge and personality and such continued on, the deal would be worthwhile to me.

  428. BillyJoe7on 22 Feb 2014 at 7:49 am

    Jory,

    “If I was cloned, I would view my clone simply as another person, albeit very similar to me”
    “I don’t think it really matters to me that my clone continues on after I die. I will still be dead”

    I know you will object, but this means you are a dualist.
    I think the confusion is the result of the fact that language itself is dualist in nature.
    Let’s see what this sounds like in materialist language:

    A brain – along with its illusion-of-self (s) – is duplicated. There are now two identical brains each with the identical illusion-of-self (s). It doesn’t matter which brain s is in. Because everything is identical including memories and emotions. In any case, s only ever lasts for an instant. An instant before the duplication, the illusion-of-self was different from s (and this can be said for every instant stretching back into the past). An instant after the duplication there are two illusions-of-self which are different from s (and this can be said for these two illusions-of-self for every instant moving forward into the future.

    It’s the illusion-of-self that’s important. And it doesn’t matter which brain it is in (it’s like software – it doesn’t matter which computer it’s in). And the illusion-of-self is never the same from moment to moment regardless of whether it remains in the same brain or generated in another brain. This is bought out clearly in the scenario where every night – and I’m switching back to dualist language now – when you go to bed you are vapourised and a duplicate is created in your place. Theoretically, this could have been happening to you every night from the day you were born and it wouldn’t have made the slightest difference to you.

    For the materialist, there is only physical stuff and where there is no physical difference there is no difference, period. There is no “essential self”, soul, or spirit, call it what you will. There is no “essential self” continuing in the original brain, there are just two identical illusions-of-self in two identical brains. The materialist concept of Identity is about as difficult to grasp as the materialist concept of Freewill. But, until you do grasp it, you are doomed to remain a dualist in materialist clothing. But it’s okay, even Steven Novella doesn’t grasp the materialist concept of Identity, so you’re in good company (:

    (Oh god, now I’m sounding like Will Nitschke)

  429. Bruceon 22 Feb 2014 at 7:14 pm

    “(Oh god, now I’m sounding like Will Nitschke)”

    Never… not possible to plumb those depths.

    I disagree with you however. We do not get vapourised every night and there is clear evidence that brain activity is continuous, even when knocked out when perception of time changes dramatically.

    If I die… I cease to exist. The fact that there is a copy means absolutely nothing to me, whether that copy is made 10 years ago, this instant or ten years after I die. The essential self you refer to is in fact something that does exist in our continuous perception of reality. What people seem to completely miss is that the only perception that matters is the perception our actual physical brains create. Destroy that brain and your perception ends. Copy me a million times, but when I die, my perception is gone, my brain is gone, and while the copies live on and act like me and think like me, I am still dead, gone, ended.

  430. Bronze Dogon 22 Feb 2014 at 8:07 pm

    Copy me a million times, but when I die, my perception is gone, my brain is gone, and while the copies live on and act like me and think like me, I am still dead, gone, ended.

    Define “me.”

  431. BillyJoe7on 23 Feb 2014 at 2:23 am

    Bruce,

    Are you a dualist then?
    In any case, the language you use to describe this scenario is dualist.
    (That, I think, is the point of Bronze Dog’s question above).
    If you are a dualist that’s fine. Well, it’s not fine, because it means your position is not evidence based. But you have accurately described the scenario from the dualist perspective. But if you are a materialist, then you have it all wrong, which I’ll explain in a moment.
    But first, let’s take care of this red herring:

    “We do not get vapourised every night”

    I’m just using what is known in psychological circles as a thought experiment. Thought experiments just help you to see things clearly or, at least, that is their intent. In fact, you don’t know for sure that you aren’t vapourised and duplicated every night. You could be an alien’s real life physics experiment – see if it makes any difference if I vapourise and duplicate Bruce very night…nope, not so far…he has even effectively denied the possibility of being vapourised and duplicated every night in his very last post. But the point is, if it IS true that you are vapourised and duplicated every night, you would be completely unaware of that fact.

    Okay, I’ve been using dualist language as well so far, so let’s see if we see this from a materialist perspective. The following is practically the sum total of your post. Every single quote betrays a dualist perspective. Pay attention to the pronouns and, as Bronze Dog suggested above, think about what using this pronouns means.

    “We do not get vapourised”
    “If I die”
    “I cease to exist”
    “The fact that there is a copy means absolutely nothing to me”
    “ten years after I die”
    “Destroy that brain and your perception ends”
    “our actual physical brains”
    “Destroy that brain and your perception ends”
    “Copy me a million times”
    “when I die, my perception is gone, my brain is gone”
    “the copies live on and act like me and think like me”
    ” I am still dead, gone, ended”

    The most obvious one is: “my brain is gone”.
    What do you imply when you say “my brain”. You imply that there is some entity, separate from the brain, that controls that brain. That’s dualism. The materialist view is that there is only a brain, and that brain produces the illusion-of-self. The illusion-of-self is the illusion that there is an entity, separate from the brain, that controls that brain. I would suggest you translate your post into the materialist perspective to see what the materialist perspective would be. In other words, without all those pronouns.

    “The essential self you refer to is in fact something that does exist in our continuous perception of reality”

    If you really believe that, then perhaps you ARE a dualist. If that is the case, can you see the scenario I described from the materialist perspective (even of you believe the materialist perspective is false)?

  432. Bruceon 23 Feb 2014 at 4:19 am

    Aaargh… too many words for a Sunday morning.

    I am not sure I have written what I mean, and therefore not sure you have taken from it what I meant. Though I do see I misinterpreted the thought experiment.

    I am sure in this case the wording and semantics are in fact important, but parsing all of that is not within my ken this morning. I would much prefer a good sit down face to face hash out of things like these.

    Just to answer one question though:

    Define “me.” – This is the continuous snapping of synapses that produce the perception of consciousness that is the self.

    I am under no illusion that the brain is what is driving the perception, but I am not sure there is an easy way to explain how we experience life as we don’t actually feel each synapse firing. (i know, we/I language, but I hope you get what I mean…).

    Like I always tell my wife “listen to what I mean, not what I say!”.

  433. Bronze Dogon 23 Feb 2014 at 11:32 am

    BillyJoe got most of the point behind my request, but I suppose another part is “What makes you you?”

    As I see it, my consciousness exists because there’s an arrangement of neurons and such that produces this consciousness. The specific atoms involved don’t matter because they’re pretty much interchangeable. An exact copy is as much me as I am. If I get copied and my original self dies shortly after, there isn’t much lost. If I get copied and both of me go on to have different experiences, then the loss increases when one dies because we gradually become more distinct from one another.

    Granted, there’s plenty of visceral self-preservation instinct on top of the built-in dualist tendencies to struggle against, but intellectually I’d be fine with the transporter concept. I’d be more worried about the accidents and malfunctions from the franchise.

    On software analogies, I might still have an old floppy disk somewhere that contains save data from a game I played at a computer camp that I felt nostalgic about. We’re used to the interchangeability of computer software, so I think of that save file on the floppy as the same file even though it’s no longer on the hard drive it was originally saved on.

    Things are different when data isn’t so transferable. I’d feel more nostalgic for an old NES game cartridge I played from my youth than a copy I picked up from a used game store, in part because I can’t transfer my save data from one cartridge to another. There’s also the issue of non-transferable physical properties of the cartridge itself: All the cartridges from my youth have a “sweet spot” that corresponds to the best connection points on my original NES deck, while used game store cartridges feel noticeably different when sliding in.

  434. Bruceon 24 Feb 2014 at 5:05 am

    Sorry, meant to post yesterday. I did read this and appreciate what you are saying. I still don’t necessarily agree but don’t currently have the mental capacity at the moment to fully articulate it.

    You have made me think about my position and understanding of how consciousness works, but I am not sure I am quite ready to draw that particular curtain all the way back. I sit very much in the Jay (Novella) camp here and while I am not going to be freezing my head any time soon, the thought of not existing is quite frightening to me.

  435. BillyJoe7on 24 Feb 2014 at 5:51 am

    Bruce,

    “the thought of not existing is quite frightening to me”

    I used to feel the same way. But more frightening than not existing is existing forever. Imagine living forever. A trillion years and you’ve hardly even started on your journey into the future. A trillion times a trillion years and you’ve still hardly even started. It will never end, and you’ll be, all along, acutely aware of that fact. On and on, never ending, and no escape.

    I would like to live a bit longer, and I think I will always feel that way, even when my time comes, but I would not want to live forever. I’ve known many people with terminal illnesses who have faced the prospect of death with equanimity, even non-believers. I see no reason why, when my time comes, I’ll be one of those people. And why not you as well.

    In the mean time, I guess both of us could do no better than live life in the present. There really is no time like the present.

  436. Gardeneron 04 Mar 2014 at 11:15 pm

    Steven asks:
    “Now I point a gun at you and say that I need to vaporize you. Do you mind? If so, why?

    I do mind, because in this case, now there are two of “me”. Both of me don’t want to be vaporized exactly the same amount, but only because both of me have been conditioned by culture to have an essentialist perspective with regard to selfhood. Both of me know that essentialism is silly, and that “me” is just a concept now running with equal strength in two identical nervous systems. Both of me know that it doesn’t ultimately matter if one of me is vaporized, but essentialism is a hard illusion to dispel. There is rational argument for keeping both of me alive: Two is better than one.

    “Only the original carries forward your continuous consciousness. The other started it’s existence a moment ago, but has the memories of a past it never lived.”

    While I agree that only the original has continuity of consciousness, this seems like a non problem if we reject essentialism. If the me that was going to be vaporized was able to be completely rational about the situation, that me wouldn’t care about continuity of consciousness. Everything important about me has been copied. Rationally, we should assign no value to continuity of consciousness. It only seems like something important because of essentialist notions.

    But yeah, don’t vaporize me. And give me back my real teddy bear, not the one that one that was copied.

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