My initial purpose in discussing copies on this list was as an analogy for the copies of an observer in other branches of the multiverse, to make a point about the significance of absolute versus relative measure in the QTI. However, the discussion has obviously taken off in a different direction, and it appears that now we are not talking about thought experiments, but about something that might become a reality at some future point in human evolution. But while we have been discussing the rich philosophical issues raised by this possibility, and touched on some of the social issues in a world where copying is common, nobody has really talked about how these copies will actually be made. It seems to me that our old workhorse, the Star Trek teleporter, even if theoretically possible, would be a fantastically difficult thing to make. Any civilization advanced enough to be up to the task of building one would have long ago developed much easier methods of copying and transferring minds by going all electronic (or photonic, or whatever), so that atom for atom duplication of a biological entity would be a pointless exercise.


It therefore seems likely that if copying minds is to be commonplace and easy, the minds will be uploaded humans or AI's on a computer network. This would change *everything* that has so far been said about copies and their relationship to each other and to the original. When I think about whether concern for the welfare of one of my copies is selfishness or altruism, I do so from the point of view of a poor unmodified human who experiences a single track, unidirectional stream of consciousness unfolding linearly in time and relying on memory to hold it all together. But if I were a computer program with ability to rewrite my own source code (or have someone else do it), that all goes out the window. I would be able to merge with other people, spin off sub-personalities, enhance any attribute or ability I liked, just *decide* what philosophical or other belief I wanted to hold, make myself altruistic on Mondays and selfish on Tuesdays, edit my memory so that things happen in a different order, assimilate any experience that I fancy, be basically content with life but with a cynical edge and a mild yearning for old-style human limitations, and so on and on...

--Stathis Papaioannou

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