Re: zombie wives

From: Russell Standish <>
Date: Tue, 31 Aug 1999 12:26:54 +1000 (EST)

> Gilles HENRI wrote:
> >
> > Some remarks about already old mails!
> >
> >
> > CM:
> > >I agree that the concept "that one's measure is somehow distributed
> > >among the so called computational continuations of one's brain activity"
> > >leads inevitably to the concept of near-zombies. The description of
> > >making a million copies of one person is a good illustration. Each of
> > >those copies has only a one millionth chance of "being" the original
> > >person, so we should not be as concerned when one of those dies as
> > >when someone else, who has never been copied, dies. But is this a
> > >refutation of the concept, by reductio-ad-absurdum? I don't think so.
> >
> > This shows very clearly the absurdity of identifying two copies as the same
> > individual and divide the "value" of each copy by two. As I argued already,
> > two instantaneous copies will immediately diverge because they are not at
> > the same physical place, and must be considered as two persons capable of
> > different future histories (although sharing the same past), exactly like
> > two twins. In Wei's argument, we need an external factor (color of the
> > screen) to differentiate jane 1 from Jane2 : they are different since they
> > have a different memory of what happened after the duplication. Jacques, do
> > you mean that it is less crual to kill 5 quins than 5 children from
> > different families?
> Well, a few people seem to be arguing from a "common sense" point of view,
> which immediately makes the arguments suspect. Let me say a few words about
> this case. You're asking about the value of an individual conscious being,
> and asking an ethical question about killing that being. I'd agree that the
> value is tied up with the ethical question.
> But it seems that you are jumping to the conclusion that the value of one of
> two copies must be the same as the value of the original, based on "common
> sense". But is it? If we have such a thing as a copy machine, I agree that
> each of the copies will begin to diverge from the other instantly. They will
> become different. I'd assume that the amount of difference between the copies
> would vary according to time, tending to increase. This is true whether or
> not they are subject to different stimuli.
> So maybe after one second, the copies are slightly different, and have just
> begun to have a thought with some slight different quality than the other
> copy. Now, if one of those copies is killed, have we committed a crime
> equal to killing an original, unique person, who has never been involved in
> our dastardly experiments? From the bird perspective, all that is lost to
> our universe is a small amount of information, representing the delta
> between that copy and the other. For the most part, the memories of the
> copies are identical, as are the personality, the shape of the face, etc.
> So if you equate the value of a human with the information content, then
> clearly killing a copy is not as bad as killing a non-copied original.
> In more human terminology, when we kill that copy, all we are wiping out
> are the experiences of one second, not those of a lifetime. The experiences
> of the lifetime persist in the other copy.

I would suspect that the ethical value of preserving a copy of another
individual would climb pretty rapidly to the normal value one would
attach to preserving human life (assuming quantification is even
possible) after a copy event. In any case, as you say - it is an
ethical question totally unrelated either to measure or conciousness
of the beings concerned.

One might have more success in applying this reasoning to the
non-human world - is it better to kill a member of a species with a
large population vs one that is near extinction. What about efforts to
preserve a particular species rather than letting it slide into
oblivion. Still, it is a big question, that I don't propose to answer.

> That sounds pretty scary, and of course the average person's reaction to
> such an argument would be to condemn the whole line of reasoning. That
> doesn't make it wrong.
> But note that this whole question is backwards. I've been saying that
> each person's measure (I'd definitely hesitate to use the word "value") is
> related to that person's chances of surviving into the infinite
> future.

Nonsense - at least if you're talking about each person subjective
experience under QTI - which I assume because you mention infinite
future. The subjective experience is of probability 1 of surviving to
enormous ages.

If you are talking in the third person view, the copying event
increases the mean and standard deviation of the lifetime distribution
applicable to that person, but only assuming you continue to identify
the two individuals concerned (which must become increasingly
untenable as they diverge).

> So in the copy situation, I would still say that each of the copies has
> half the measure of the original, but then I'd say that each has (roughly)
> an equal measure to any other human. So the original, before the copy
> process, had twice the measure of an average human.

Why should measure be conserved through a copy operation? The best
analogy I can think of in the existing world is the birth process -
before the birth, the measure of that individual is zero, after the
birth it is some finite number. And who gives a rats arse whether one
individual has greater measure than another - it doesn't make either
of them any more real than the other to themselves.

> --
> Chris Maloney
> "Donuts are so sweet and tasty."
> -- Homer Simpson

Dr. Russell Standish Director
High Performance Computing Support Unit,
University of NSW Phone 9385 6967
Sydney 2052 Fax 9385 6965
Room 2075, Red Centre
Received on Mon Aug 30 1999 - 19:27:41 PDT

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