Re: Self vs. other (was Re: Balance of power)

From: Byrne Hobart (
Date: Wed Apr 23 2008 - 09:28:23 MDT

> The distinction that humans commonly make is that if you communicate with
> it
> using language, then it is not yourself. Thus, a person with two faces
> that
> share the same brain is one person.

I use language to communicate to my future self all the time. There is a
continuum, here: a note-to-self might say "finish the books," whereas the
same information communicated to an outside party would be "finish
alphabetizing the books." And since I articulate some thoughts as language,
this argument would also imply that I've been multiple people since I
learned to speak.

Perhaps a more flexible and applicable version of this theory could involve
how much compression one can get away with in communicating. A note to self
can be extremely terse; a note to a close friend can be brief; a note to a
total stranger with a poor grasp of English could take many pages to explain
the alphabetizing task above. And this dovetails with the earlier argument:
when you're punching cards, your computer is quite 'other'; when you're
using a higher-level language to quickly parse a huge amount of information
without having to consciously go through lots of tedious processes, the
computer is more of an extension of the self. And as more of the stuff we do
can be expressed algorithmically, saved, and used or modified at will, we
get closer to just being as terse with the computer as we are with

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