Eric Cavalcanti writes:

But even in a MWI perspective, they are surely very different
processes, as someone else argued. Tossing a coin does not increase
the number of copies of yourself in the multiverse. Pushing the button
does. There is a symmetry between the two versions of yourself in the
coin tossing scenario. Clearly there is no reason for one to be preferred
to the other, then it is reasonable to believe there is a 50% probability
for you to experience each. But there is an asymmetry between you
and your copies, and there is some reason to believe that your
consciousness cannot experience to be the copies, namely, the
argument that you should not experience anything strange if someone
scans your body without your knowledge.

The argument that the two copies are symmetrical in the MWI and there is no reason to choose one over the other is exactly my point about duplication in one world. For technical reasons, it generally *would* be possible to distinguish a copy from the original if we were using, for example, non-destructive teleportation, but surely this is just a detail. You have aknowledged that all the atoms in your body change over time, replaced by atoms from the environment, and you are still the original "you". This is a gradual process, although the turnover in the brain is surprisingly fast (thanks to Jesse Mazer for that reference). Presumably, you would not be worried if the replacement happened all at once rather than gradually. Suppose you are standing still, and to your right is a supply of all the elements that are found in a human body. When you press a button, each atom in your body will move one metre to the left, while at the same time, an appropriate atom from the supply to your right will move into the position vacated by the atom that has just moved. The result is that there are now two copies of you, one metre apart. One copy is in the position you were in originally, but is comprised of different atoms. That shouldn't worry you, because this happens all the time anyway, so this copy could claim to be the original. On the other hand, the copy one metre to the left of where you were originally is no different to what would have occurred if you had just stepped one metre to the left, so this copy could claim to be the original. It seems both have a very good claim to being the original!

p.s.: By the way, this remark in the last message also applies to choice C:
About choice B (and C), it raises other interesting questions: suppose you
know that the copies are going to undergo some sort of plastic surgery a week or so after the experiment, and will look very different from yourself now. They could also undergo some type of slow personality modification (as education),
such that they would at any moment agree that they are experiencing a
continuity of identity. Would you still choose B? What if this change
really isn't
slow, but sudden, at the time of creation of the copy? Does it make a
difference? Then what is the difference between doing a copy of yourself or
a copy of someone else, since any two people could be connected by a series
of continuous transformations? Would you still be comforted by the fact that
someone, even if very different from you, would be created to replace you?

This question applies without copying as well: if you had plastic surgery, then gradual personality change, gradual or sudden memory loss, would you still be "you" or would you be someone else? It illustrates the fact that there is no obvious or "correct" answer when it comes to questions of continuity of identity. In the final analysis, the answer has to be arbitrary.

--Stathis Papaioannou

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