On 3/19/2012 9:40 AM, John Clark wrote:
On Sun, Mar 18, 2012 at 7:22 PM, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net <mailto:meeke...@verizon.net>> wrote:


    > I didn't pretend there are two points of view in your symmetric room 
thought
    experiment.


Great, then like me you believe that although there are 2 living human bodies and 2 living human brains inside that symmetrical room there is only one human consciousness.

    > I don't know why you keep referring to consciousness.


Well, the fact that consciousness is what we're talking about might be part of the reason I keep referring to it.

    > In your own example there is an enormous change, i.e. two bodies where 
there was
    one before, and there *is* a change in consciousness.


But for whatever change in consciousness that occurs in one brain there is a IDENTICAL change in the brain of the other, rendering it meaningless to speak of two consciousnesses in that symmetrical room.

    > Not into two separate consciousnesses (although I think that must happen 
very
    quickly), but in seeing a body that looks like your self.


But BOTH you and the original Brent will see someone who looks and moves just like you suddenly appear in front of you, things remain symmetrical and despite there being 2 bodies and 2 brains in that room there is only one conscious entity and that's the way things will remain until there is a relative difference between the two objects.

    > I don't know what you're trying to prove with this example.  Surely not 
that one
    must be aware of all "enormous changes".


One must be aware of ANY subjective change enormous or trivial, otherwise by definition there is no change at all. As for position or any purely objective change, it's just not relevant.

    > I agree that there is only one consciousness until the two brains diverge 
by
    having different inputs (either internal thermal noise or external 
perceptions) -
    which I supposed was your original point.


It was. So what are we arguing about?

I think we're arguing about whether duplication of persons provides a valid model of quantum uncertainty; at least I think that's what Bruno's argument tries to show.


    > I think Bruno also agreed that consciousness only split when there was 
some
    difference in perception - which he equated with opening the transporter 
door.


I think he did too and I'm glad of that, but he also thought that if the body of the Helsinki man was annihilated the instant after the information in it was read and the information used to make identical living bodies in Moscow and Washington then the Helsinki man is dead; and that is inconsistent, or at least it is if he also thinks (as I'm sure he does) that the idea of the Bruno of yesterday or even the Bruno of one nanosecond ago is dead is just silly.

I agree and I think Bruno does too; he just want to avoid identifying the Helsinki man as 'the real Bruno'. But suppose the transmission and reconstruction takes a year, or two. Is the Helsinki guy dead for the interval?


    > Even if the brain is strictly classical and deterministic, the world 
still has
    plenty of thermal randomness that would very quickly cause the two brains 
to diverge
    into different conscious (and subconscious) thoughts.


Maybe, but nobody knows. Even if it's true at the instant of duplication the 2 are identical, and I certainly never denied that thermal vibrations, or any other environmental factors, could cause the two to differentiate and the situation become unsymmetrical.

    > If you exchange two things that are identical except for position *while 
no one is
    watching* then the change is unobservable.


Yes, and the faster the exchange the harder to observe.

    > But big classical things have continuity in spacetime


You know that only because that's what you've always observed, but there is a reason for that. Although there is no law of logic or physics that forbids their existence you have never seen 2 big things that are identical, current technology is just not up to the job of making them, but that may not always be true.

You're equivocating on "identical". Of course I've seen many things that are identical in the sense that I can't tell them apart: U.S. coins of the same year and value for example or small red balls that table-top magicians use. Magicians use such objects because, if you can't or don't see them momentarily then you can't tell if they've been switched. But they are not identical in Leibniz's sense because they occupy different positions and big things will always be non-identical in this sense due to quantum decoherence. The thought experiments so far discussed do not even depend on the duplication being accurate at a microscopic, much less quantum, level. So the duplicates will be non-identical simply based on their positions (which of course is why you had to postulate a perfectly symmetrical room) and that's why Bruno considers two duplications (and annihilation of the guy in Helsinki) to avoid identifying an 'original' by continuity.



    >  if someone is watching, they can tell that the bodies have been 
exchanged.


It's interesting you should mention that because it relates to a personal problem I have and you might be the right man to give me some advice. About a year ago I started building a matter duplicating machine. It could find the position and velocity of every atom in a human being to the limit imposed by Heisenberg's law. It then used this information to construct a copy and it does it all in a fraction of a second and without harming the original in any way. You may be surprised that I was able to build such a complicated machine, but you wouldn't be if you knew how good I am with my hands. The birdhouse I made is simply lovely and I have all the latest tools from Sears.

I was a little nervous but I decided to test the machine by duplicating myself. The day before yesterday I walked into the chamber, it filled with smoke (damn those radio shack transformers) there was a flash of light, and then 3 feet to my left was a man who looked exactly like me.

And you were still in the chamber?  Or were there two chambers?

It was at that
instant that the full realization of the terrible thing I did hit me. I yelled "This is monstrous, there can only be one of me", my copy yelled exactly the same thing. I thought he was trying to mock me, so I reached for my 44 magnum that I always carry with me (I wonder why people think I'm strange) and pointed it at my double. I noted with alarm that the double also had a gun and he was pointed it at me. I shouted "you don't have the guts to pull the trigger, but I do". Again he mimicked my words and did so in perfect synchronization, this made me even more angry and I pulled the trigger, he did too. My gun went off but his gun jammed. I buried him in my back yard.

Now that my anger has cooled and I can think more clearly I've had some pangs of conscious about killing a living creature, but that's not what really torments me. How do I know I'm not the copy? I feel exactly the same as before, but would a copy feel different? Actually there is a way to be certain, I have a video tape of the entire experiment. My memory is that the copy first appeared 3 feet to my LEFT, (if I had arranged things so he appeared 3 feet in front of me face to face things would have been more symmetrical, like looking in a mirror) if the tape shows the original walking into the chamber and the copy materializing 3 feet to his RIGHT, then I would know that I am the copy. I'm afraid to look at the tape, should I be? If I found out I was the copy what should I do? I suppose I should morn the death of John Clark, but how can I, I'm not dead. If I am the copy would that mean that I have no real past and my life is meaningless? Is it important, or should I just burn the tape and forget all about it?

I'll tell you as soon as you tell me the probability that you'll be the guy whose gun misfires if you repeat the experiment.

Brent

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