Re: death

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Mon, 20 Jun 2005 10:41:32 +1000

Hal Finney writes:

>I guess I would say, I would survive death via anything that does not
>reduce my measure. If I am stopped here, I should be started over there,
>or back then, or when such-and-such happens. If my measure is conserved
>then I can be happy. If it can be increased, I will be that much happier.
>Both uploading and transporting conserve measure, so they are not death.
>Being killed and having only one in 10^100 of me continue does reduce
>my measure, so that is death...

What about the situation I described before:

Returning to your example, if God creates a person, call him A, and a day
later kills him, A will be really dead (as opposed to provisionally dead) if
there will never be any successor OM's to his last conscious moment. Now,
suppose God kills A and then creates an exact copy of A along with his
environment, call him B, on the other side of the planet. B has all of A's
memories up to the moment before he was killed. This destruction/creation
procedure is, except for the duplication of the environment, exactly how
teleportation is supposed to work. I think most people on this list would
agree that teleportation (if it could be made to work, which not everyone
does agree is possible) would be a method of transportation, not execution:
even though the original dies, the copy has all his memories and provides
the requisite successor OM in exactly the same way as would have happened if
the original had continued living. So in the example above, if B is an exact
copy of A in an exact copy of A's environment, A would "become" B and not
even notice that there had been any change.

Now, consider the same situation with one difference. Instead of creating B
at the instant he kills A, God creates A and B at the same time, on opposite
sides of the planet but in exactly the same environment which will provide
each of them with exactly the same inputs, and their minds at all time
remain perfectly synchronised. God allows his two creatures to live for a
day, and then instantly and painlessly kills A. In the previous example, we
agreed that the creation of B means that A doesn't really die. Now, we have
*exactly* the same situation when A is killed: B is there to provide the
successor OM, and A need not even know that anything unusual had happened.
How could the fact that B was present a day, a minute or a microsecond
before A's death make any difference to A? All that matters is that B is in
the correct state to provide continuity of consciousness when A is killed.
Conversely, A and A's death cannot possibly have any direct effect on B. It
is not as if A's soul flies around the world and takes over B; rather, it
just so happens (because of how A and B were created) that B's mental states
coincide with A's, or with what A's would have been if he hadn't died.

Who's measure is decreased here, A's or B's? How would any of them know
their measure had been decreased? It seems to me that neither A nor B could
*possibly* be aware that anything had happened at all. The only benefit of
having multiple exact copies of yourself around would seem to be as backup
if one is destroyed. If your measure were surreptitiously increased or
decreased, what symptoms would you expect to experience? What about if you
were a piece of sentient software: surely having multiple instantiations of
the ones and zeroes could not make any difference; if it did, wouldn't that
be a bit like expecting that your money would have greater purchasing power
if your bank backed up their data multiple times? Or like saying that
"2+2=4" would be more vividly true (or whatever it is that increasing
measure causes to happen) if lots and lots of people held hands and did the
calculation simultaneously?

I can't be completely sure that increasing your measure would have no
effect. Maybe there would be some sort of telepathic communication between
the various copies, such as is said to occur between identical twins, or
some as yet undiscovered physical phenomenon. However, there is absolutely
no evidence at present for such a thing, and I think that until such
evidence is found, we should only go on what we know to be true and what can
logically be deduced from it.

--Stathis Papaioannou

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Received on Sun Jun 19 2005 - 20:49:34 PDT

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