Re: Bruno's teleportation device is a quantum suicide device

From: Hal Finney <>
Date: Thu, 20 Jun 2002 16:01:48 -0700

Russell Standish writes:

> If someone offered you a replacement mechanical brain which the
> surgeons guarantees would emulate your current brain state perfectly,
> would you take up the offer?
> ...
> Of course, if you accept Bruno's COMP principle, then you may very
> well take up the offer, if there's something in it for you. But
> there's a catch. Noone can prove that the person that went into the
> operation is the same person who comes out. Sure the person coming out
> has the same memories, the same personality etc - from a 3rd person
> point of view is the same - but what's to say the the person going in
> who's old brain has been destroyed hasn't consigned themselves to
> oblivion?

It's not clear that it means anything to say that the person could have
died. Here is why I say that.

I think we agree that the person in the mechanical brain who leaves
the operation will not be able to tell whether it was a success or not.
He will have memories of going into the operation and coming out of it,
but is that good enough? No, even if he is in your sense a new person,
he would still have those memories. So the memories mean nothing.

The problem with this reasoning is that it is consistent with the
possibility that we die in this same sense every night when we sleep.
Perhaps the person who wakes up is not the same person who went to sleep.
He has memories of falling asleep, just as the mechanical man has memories
of going into the operation. But we just agreed that the existence of
such memories proves nothing.

In fact, I don't think there is any way that we can ever prove that our
"identity" is maintained across sleep, or unconsciousness, or for that
matter from one moment to the next! Maybe we are dying every instant,
but we can't tell, because we are constantly being re-created with our
memories of the previous events.

Given that there is no way for the subject or any other person to tell
the truth or false of this, isn't it possible that there is no truth or
falsity to tell?

Received on Thu Jun 20 2002 - 16:15:51 PDT

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