RE: Many Pasts? Not according to QM...

From: Hal Finney <>
Date: Tue, 7 Jun 2005 22:19:32 -0700 (PDT)

Jonathan Colvin writes:
> That raises an interesting question. *Should* we (whether reasoned on an
> ethical basis or a purely selfish one) care more about a copy of ourselves
> getting hurt than a complete stranger?
> I have little doubt that I *would* rather a stranger get stuck than my copy,
> but only, I think, because I would have more empathy for my copy than for a
> stranger, in the same way that I would have more empathy for my mother
> getting stuck than I would for someone I don't know.
> Beyond the empathetic rationale, I don't see any convincing argument for
> favoring the copy over a stranger. The copy is not, after all, *me*
> (although it once was). We ceased being the same person the moment we were
> copied and started diverging.

One way to approach the question is like this: in a system where copying
was possible and (perhaps) common, would the habit of caring about ones
copies become widespread?

The idea is that we care about our futures not really for the reasons
we say, but because evolution has selected for organisms who care about
their futures. Such organisms were more likely to survive and reproduce,
and we have inherited the trait down to today.

Apply that reasoning to the copy situation. A person and his copies
would be like hive insects, which all share the same genes. Evolution has
evolved such entities to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of the hive.

I think the same kinds of effects would select for people who do value
their copies. Perhaps they might value them equally to themselves,
although I'm not sure how the exact numerical ratios would work out.
But people should become willing to sacrifice themselves if it would
save their copies.

Hal Finney
Received on Wed Jun 08 2005 - 02:16:34 PDT

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