There's more to me than memories...

From: Stuart Armstrong (
Date: Mon Mar 10 2008 - 12:47:28 MDT

On the whole question of whether your duplicate is really you or not,
one thing seems to have been missed: there is more to who you are than
just your memories.

If you are duplicated ten times, the most likely outcome is that you
will lose your partner, your house, your parents, your job, most of
your possessions, 9/10s of your cash, and most of your friends - all
in one short instant.

This should count as a very traumatic experience. One that will
definitely affect your subjective experience - but it is precisely the
similarity in subjective experience that seems to be the main argument
for claiming you and your duplicates are the same.

The more your are socially embedded in the world, the more convincing
the argument becomes that you are not duplicating "you", but creating
two new beings.

Of course, there are other legal issues with duplication - do you need
to follow a previously signed contract, for example? This is not just
a gratuitous example; our whole social, legal and financial system is
based around some sort of continuity of responsibility (if I killed
someone a year ago, that still counts as me). This passing on of
responsibility keeps us pretty consistent; if nothing we did would be
criticised or praised in a week's time, our behaviour would be far
more erratic, and we would be a "different person" from day to day.

So the issue of how much legal, environmental and social continuity
there is upon duplication will be important to deciding if a duplicate
is the same person as the original.

Somewhat trivial example: unable to decide between a career in acting
or in tax accounting, you duplicate yourself and each copy takes a
different path. Immediately after duplication you are told "you're the
actor!" or "you're the tax accountant!". After ten seconds to let that
sink in, I'd say that you're already two different people.


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