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AFinerGrain comments on Timeless Identity - Less Wrong

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

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Comment author: someonewrongonthenet 01 October 2013 02:51:03AM *  0 points [-]

Because the notion of "me" is not an ontologically basic category and the question of whether the "real me" wakes up is a question that aught to be un-asked.

I'm a bit confused at the question...you articulated my intent with that sentence perfectly in your other post.

Hrm.. ambiguous semantics. I took it to imply acceptance of the idea but not elevation of its importance, but I see how it could be interpreted differently.

and, as TheOtherDave said,

presumably that also helps explain how they can sleep at night.

EDIT: Nevermind, I now understand which part of my statement you misunderstood.

I'm not accepting-but-not-elevating the idea that the 'Real me" doesn't wake up on the other side. Rather, I'm saying that the questions of personal identity over time do not make sense in the first place. It's like asking "which color is the most moist"?

You actually continue functioning when you sleep, it's just that you don't remember details once you wake up. A more useful example for such discussion is general anesthesia, which shuts down the regions of the brain associated with consciousness. If personal identity is in fact derived from continuity of computation, then it is plausible that general anesthesia would result in a "different you" waking up after the operation. The application to cryonics depends greatly on the subtle distinction of whether vitrification (and more importantly, the recovery process) slows downs or stops computation. This has been a source of philosophical angst for me personally, but I'm still a cryonics member.

More troubling is the application to uploading. I haven't done this yet, but I want my Alcor contract to explicitly forbid uploading as a restoration process, because I am unconvinced that a simulation of my destructively scanned frozen brain would really be a continuation of my personal identity. I was hoping that “Timeless Identity” would address this point, but sadly it punts the issue.

The root of your philosophical dilemma is that "personal identity" is a conceptual substitution for soul - a subjective thread that connects you over space and time.

No such thing exists. There is no specific location in your brain which is you. There is no specific time point which is you. Subjective experience exists only in the fleeting present. The only "thread' connecting you to your past experiences is your current subjective experience of remembering them. That's all.

Comment author: AFinerGrain 03 October 2017 01:54:37AM 0 points [-]

I always wonder how I should treat my future self if I reject the continuity of self. Should I think of him like a son? A spouse? A stranger? Should I let him get fat? Not get him a degree? Invest in stock for him? Give him another child?

Comment author: Elo 03 October 2017 07:48:49AM 0 points [-]

I think it matters in so far as assisting your present trajectory. Otherwise it might as well be an unfeeling entity.