Physical verses Information Theoretic

The Credodia project‘s first program is storage of the memories that make up you. There is a goal that in time the recovery of these memories from storage, the copy to a new platform and then the re-animation will be technically feasible: right now the focus is preservation.

Acceptance of this idea across the whole of the possible market though is fighting what I call the Overwhelming Point Of View (OPOV).

This varies in people and as a rough guess I would say that within the physicalist (e.g. non-theist, rationalist, atheist) community it is 50:50 i.e. half believe that the loss of an original whilst leaving the copy is a murder or suicide and half do not see this loss of the original body in such dramatic terms.

Whilst we are happy that a copy of an image or document is an identical copy and we can happily delete the original this rationale doesn’t apply when we consider copying our own memories or those of a person.

The overwhelming point of view will have, like all human morality, evolved and so it is present for a very good reason. It is our selfish conscious view of the world around us that would in all probability contribute to keeping us alive. It is us experiencing the world and creating a unique perspective  from these experiences. The idea of having two identical but unique points of view is thus nonsensical.

But I’m going to present the idea of the overwhelming point of view as the mechanism that is the stumbling block to rationally viewing the idea of storage, copy and recovery of the information that is you and so this will actually guarantee your information theoretic death though it may have offered protection from a physical death. I view this much like our flight or fight strategy in that in some cases if we panic then this can subvert our survival in the long run.

When you sit down and think about what happens in certain hypothetical scenarios then you do not rationally accept that is what would happen e.g., if  you imagine the transporter problem and think that the other you is actually a copy but it is not you even though it has an identical information content then your point of view is hindering your ability to examine the information theoretic outcome. If it was a document that we were looking at then that is informationally identical and you would not care if the original was deleted but when it comes to “you” then your overwhelming point of view is interfering with your rationalisation.

In essence no matter what the technology chain of events takes place to make a copy of you then you as a person will never accept that any copy would be you. It is not that the person examining this thinks that there is an un-copiable soul but that the process  simply will not work under any scenario.

I recognise this is a difficult concept to overcome and so I am obliged to think of scenarios that are deigned to overcome this overwhelming point of view.

The first is to consider what happens when you are put unconscious (coma) and then “copied” and the original is destroyed. This scenario overcomes a certain degree of reluctance but not all. Note that many have evolved the idea of a soul that is separable from the body. As a practical consideration I do not care about those that subscribe to the existence of a soul as it is unlikely that is materialistic and so souls are irrelevant to my audience.

If unconsciousness is not enough then how about a physical death ? In this case if you were “copied” and the original is destroyed then this overcomes even more of those that have this reluctant but not all. The arguments are the uniqueness of the matter and the point in space cannot be occupied by more than the same matter. Or that you canonically dies when the body dies.

After a whilst thought we must give up on trying to overcome all objections and there is always a residual difference in understanding and people should be left to believe what they want. If they do not want to separate physical death from information death nor overcome the uniqueness of their own point of view then that is their right.

There is nothing wrong in the overwhelming point of view and in fact it is what makes us a distinct human agent and not part of a hive mind. I believe that this is such a strong emotional response that people have because it is as evolved as any human emotion such as fear, love, hate or anger has evolved.

But we are human and so we are redefined by our technology and this technology presents problems that our naturally evolved responses are insufficient to rationalise.

My belief is that we now have the ability to potentially eliminate  death and the first step anyone has to take is to examine death as the irreversible and complete loss of information rather than the physical loss of a body.

As our level of technology increases then the question of when does death actually occur becomes increasing hard to recognise. With organ transplants, organ cloning, and life support then people are increasingly recognising that the person remains intact as long as the mind remains intact. It doesn’t matter if the body is well if the mind has a stroke, Alzheimer’s or dementia – the person ceases to be when the mind ceases to be and the mind ceases to be when the memories are broken or gone.

As a society we are on the cusp of accepting information theoretic death as the only relevant definition of death and if this does become as prevalent as I think it will then overcoming this overwhelming point of view will be an essential step for society to advance and so as a species for us to evolve.