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Indon comments on Timeless Identity - Less Wrong

23 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 03 June 2008 08:16AM

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Comment author: Indon 17 April 2013 11:28:21PM 2 points [-]

Since you're a computer guy (and I imagine many people you talk to are also computer-savvy), I'm surprised you don't use file/process analogues for identity.

  • If I move a file's physical location on my hard drive, it's obviously still the same file, because it has handle and data continuity. This is analogous to existing in different locations, being expressed with different atoms.
  • If I change the content of the file, it's obviously still the same file, because it has handle and location continuity. This is analogous to changing over not-technically-time-but-causal-effect-chains-that-we-may-as-well-call-time-for-convenience.
  • If I delete the file (actually just removing its' file handle in most modern systems) and use a utility to recover it, it's obviously still the same file, because it has location and data continuity. This is analogous to cryonics.

Identity is thus describable with three components: handle, data, and location continuity, only two of which are required at any given point. As for having just one:

  • If you have only handle continuity, you have two distinct objects with the same name.
  • If you have only data continuity, then you have duplicate work.
  • If you have only location continuity, you've reformatted.

All three break file identity.

As for cryonics, I would sign up if I could be convinced that I would not become obsolete or even detrimental to a society that resurrects me. And looking at some of the problems in my country already being caused by merely having a normally aging population at current social development rate, I don't even think it's a given that I could contribute meaningfully to society during the twilight of my at-present-natural life.