Re: Duplicates Are Selves

From: Hal Finney <>
Date: Sun, 3 Jul 2005 09:41:35 -0700 (PDT)

I have been on vacation so I have a large backlog of messages to read!
But they are very interesting and full of challenging ideas. I find this
list to be one of the best I have ever been on in terms both of fearlessly
exploring difficult areas and also remaining cordial and polite.

I am trying to understand Lee Corbin's idea about duplicates as selves
better. I can understand seeing exact, synchronized duplicates as
selves (such as two computers running the same simulated individual
in lock-step). But when they begin to diverge I understand that Lee
still sees them as (in some sense) "himself" and one copy would in fact
sacrifice to benefit a diverged copy just as much(?) as to benefit its
own body. Is this right?

What I would ask is, is there a limit to this? Is this common-self-ness
a matter of degree, or is it all-or-none? Is there some degree of
divergence after which a copy might be somewhat reluctant to continue
to view its brother copy as being exactly equivalent to itself?

For example, what if someone were an identical twin? In some sense they
are duplicates at the moment of conception who then begin to diverge.
This seems to be different from the copies we discuss merely in degree
of divergence, not in kind. Would it be reasonable to argue that an
identical twin "should" view his brother as himself?

And what about the possibility of creating non-identical copies?
Perhaps our copying machine is imperfect and the products are not quite
the same as the original. They are very close, perhaps so close that
only extremely detailed inspection can detect the differences. Or perhaps
they are not really so close at all and the copies in fact bear little
resemblance to their originals. How does the potential existence of such
imperfect copying machines affect the notion that one should view copies
as selves?

If imperfect or diverged copies are to be considered as lesser-degree
selves, is there an absolute rule which applies, an objective reality
which governs the extent to which two different individuals are the
same "self", or is it ultimately a matter of taste and opinion for the
individuals involved to make the determination? Is this something that
reasonable people can disagree on, or is there an objective truth about
it that they should ultimately come to agreement on if they work at it
long enough?

Hal Finney
Received on Sun Jul 03 2005 - 13:40:44 PDT

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