From an email I’ve just sent:

> DataPacRat wrote:

>> I know that I have every intention of getting myself digitized, and
>> Von Neumanning myself across as many star systems as practical, with
>> various sets of plans to be revived from backups if no ‘still alive’
>> signals are sent for too long (eg, after one year, ten, a hundred, a
>> thousand, and so on), if it’s at all feasible to do so. And I’m not a
>> particularly exceptional example of the species.
> What do you mean by “I”? ¬†How would such a thing be you?

I don’t subscribe to the matter theory of identity. The atoms in my
brain are gradually being replaced, and according to quantum theory,
every single atom is indistinguishable on a fundamental level from
every other atom. Thus it doesn’t seem to be what my brain is made up
of that’s important in figuring out whether or not it’s ‘me’.

I don’t subscribe to the continuity theory of identity. For just one
reason, I once went through an episode of transient global amnesia,
where memories stopped being recorded and I’m told I kept asking “What
time is it?” every few seconds; the metaphorical tape of my memories
is snipped off at the start of the episode, and resumes after. I’m
also a full-fledged cryonicist, and if I ever actually make use of
that procedure, it will be much more fundamental gap in my existence;
but however I would be woken up afterwards, I still expect to be ‘me’.

I do subscribe to at least some version of the pattern theory of
identity. Roughly put, I consider any mind which is sufficiently close
to my current one, in terms of memories, personality, skill, and so
on, to be a version of ‘me’. This is currently a very loose and waffly
description, given how much I have changed over my life so far;
fortunately, I can still get away with such a loose definition, as
it’s easy to tell whether or not my skull has been opened up yet. By
the time something resembling an actual copy of me has been made, I
expect to have worked out a much more coherent set of guidelines. As
an initial guess, I expect to use the basis of “any mind which has
been copied from an existing copy of my mind”, though that will be
more troublesome once it becomes possible not just to make copies of
the digital emulation of my whole brain, but also to edit them.

(I happen to have written a placeholder for these ideas for the
“Orion’s Arm” project, in the form of their Encyclopedia Galactica
articles, “Dividual Naming Schema” at and “Dividual
Interaction Protocols” at . The ‘_____’
Spores, , were a
similar attempt to work out how a digital mind interested in its
long-term survival might try copying itself as widely as possible
without making a pest of itself.)

I have a couple of relevant lines in my quotefile, both by John K. Clark:

“We don’t have thoughts, we are thoughts. Thoughts are not responsible
for the machinery that happens to think them.”
“But I am not an object. I am not a noun, I am an adjective. I am the
way matter behaves when it is organized in a John K Clark-ish way. At
the present time only one chunk of matter in the universe behaves that
way; someday that could change.”

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