Page Number: 207
As you are me and we are all together
May 30th, 2007
PAGE FOOTNOTES: If someday it becomes possible to upload human minds into some sort of computer like device and run a mind in some sort of emulator, a number of complexities arise. What happens if you merge the data of two minds? Is it either of the same people, or someone new? What if one side of the merging is dominant - does that make the result more one person than the other? Can personhood be defined on a sliding scale?
If a person is uploaded as they are dying, did the person survive death? Or is the emulated living mind just a copy? If the result is clearly the same person in behavior, and it was someone you loved, is loving the emulated person valid? Is a person the pattern within their brain, or the material brain itself?
I find it interesting that the same questions apply to the mystic who believes in some kind of afterlife. What is a soul but the pattern of thoughts and memories of a person... a mind? What is an afterlife but an emulated state of existence? Is a ghost or spirit the same person, really? Or is it a spiritual copy of a sort?
Here is what I think. I think that a person is the sum of their thoughts and memories and identity, however that is represented. A person is data.
Anything that can be done to data can be done to a mind, and someday will, if humanity doesn't screw up.
I also think personhood has always been a sliding scale. As we live, grow and learn, we become more. And as we age, lose function and memory and ability, we become less. But we are still ourselves. Personhood is just a dynamic thing, is all.
Once this is grasped, I think all the questions kind of answer themselves.
By Jennifer Diane Reitz
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