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turchin comments on Identity map - Less Wrong Discussion

7 Post author: turchin 15 August 2016 11:29AM

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Comment author: turchin 15 August 2016 04:22:49PM 0 points [-]

Look, it will work if it will done in several stages.

1) I am alone and I know that my leg will be cut 2) A friend of mine created 1 000 000 copies, all of them think that their leg will be cut 3) He informs all copies and me about his action, everybody is excited.

I don't see it as confirmation to MW, as it assumed to be done via some kind of scanner in one world, but yes it is similar to MW and may be useful example to estimate subjective probabilities in some thought experiments like quantum suicide with external conditions (and also copies).

Comment author: g_pepper 15 August 2016 05:46:54PM *  1 point [-]

It seems to me that you have 1,000,000 different people, one of whom is going to get his/her leg cut off. The fact that they are all copies of one another seems irrelevant. The same relief that each of the 1,000,000 people in your example feels (in your step 3) upon learning that there is only 1/1000000 chance of loosing a leg would be felt by each of 1,000,000 randomly selected strangers if you:

  • Told each individually that he/she would have his/her leg cut off
  • Then told each that only one member of the group would be randomly selected to have his/her leg cut off

So I guess I do not see how this example tells us anything about identity.

Comment author: turchin 15 August 2016 06:21:41PM 0 points [-]

One way to look at it is as of a trick to solve different identity puzzles.

Another possible idea is to generalise it in a principle: "I am a class of all beings from which I can't distinguish myself."

There is only one real test on identity, that is the question: "What I will feel in the next moment?" Any identity theory must provide plausible answer to it.

Identity theories belong to two main classes: the ones which show real nature of identity and the ones that contract useful identity theory if identity doesn't have any intrinsic nature.

And if identity is a construction we may try to construct it in the most useful and simple way, which is also don't contradict our intuitive representation of what identity is (which are complex biological and cultural adaption).

It is like "love" - everybody could feel it, as it evolved biologically and culturally, but if we try to give it short logical definition, we are in troubles.

So, defining identity as a subset of all beings from which I can't distinguish myself may be not real nature of identity, but useful construction. I will not insist that it is the best construction.

Comment author: g_pepper 15 August 2016 06:49:14PM 0 points [-]

I agree that identity

is like "love" - everybody could feel it, as it evolved biologically and culturally, but if we try to give it short logical definition, we are in troubles

And, there are other things that most people experience but that are hard to define and can seem paradoxical, e.g. consciousness and free will.

However, you said that we can generalize your leg-amputation thought experiment as a principle: "I am a class of all beings from which I can't distinguish myself." I don't understand what you mean by this - your thought experiment involving 1,000,000 copies of a person seems equivalent to my thought experiment invovling 1,000,000 strangers. So, I do not see how being a member of a class from which I can't distinguish myself is relevant.

Comment author: turchin 15 August 2016 07:32:10PM *  0 points [-]

The strangers are identical in this aspect and are different in other aspects.

it is all similar to social approach to identity. (It is useful for understanding, but final solution should be more complex, so I would say that it is my final opinion.)

The idea is to define identity not trough something about me, but through my difference with other people, so identity is not substance but form of relation with others.

The identity exist only in social situations, where at least several people exist (or their copies), if only one being would exist in the universe it probably will not have idea or problems with identity.

For social situation it is important to distinguish identity of different people, based on their identity tags (name and face). Even I have to remember who I am and scan my live situation every morning. So my personal feeling of identity is in some sense my representation of my self as it would be seen from the social point of view.

If I see my friend F. and he looks like F and correctly reacts on identification procedures (recognises me and reacts on his name), I think that he is F. (Duck test). But in fact infinite number of different possible beings could past the same test.

And interesting thing is that a person could run this identification test for hum self. (And fail: Once i was baby-sitting Lisa's two children and stay in their home. I woke up in the morning and thought that two my children are sleeping and I am in Lisa's bed, so I should be Lisa. In 0.5 second I woke up a little bit more and understood that I am not Lisa and I am even male.)

I tell all it to show how being a member of a class could be good approximation of identity. But real identity should be more complex thing.

Comment author: g_pepper 15 August 2016 08:13:38PM 0 points [-]

I understand that identity is too complex to figure out in this comment thread. However, any theory of identity that defines or approximates identity as "a member of a class" is apt to badly miss encapsulating most people's understanding of identity, as illustrated by the fact that my reaction to having my own leg cut off is going to be significantly different than is my reaction to a copy of me having his leg cut off. I wouldn't be happy about either situation, but I'd be much less happy at having my own leg cut off than I would about a copy of me having his leg cut off.

Comment author: turchin 15 August 2016 08:40:11PM 0 points [-]

But if you don't know who is original or copy, you may start to worry about.

Uncertainty is part of identity, I mean that any definition of identity should include some part of uncertainty, as identity is unmeasurable and undefined thing. Will it be me tomorrow? What if I am only a copy? What if my copy will be done with mistakes? All problem of identity appear in the situations when it is uncertain. And sometimes increase of uncertainty may solve this problems, as we do in indexical uncertainty.

Comment author: g_pepper 15 August 2016 09:09:44PM 0 points [-]

But if you don't know who is original or copy, you may start to worry about.

It seems to me that who is the original and who is the copy is irrelevant to my reaction in the leg amputation thought experiment. But, who is me and who is not me is very relevant. For example, suppose I am a copy of the original gpepper. In that case, I would be less unhappy about the original gpepper having his leg cut off than I would be about having my own leg cut off.