Recently in a good discussion with another adult human (I have 4 children so it is a special occasion) I discussed the idea of codops (computerized doppelgangers) or computer based human simulation.
The question inevitably arises – is it you?
Well, first off this isn’t a real question. It is like asking if a woman’s breasts are fake. Of course her breasts are real. They may be artificially enhanced, but they are real. You can reach out and touch them. Then get smacked for it. Probably best to ogle them – and out of smacking distance.
“I” don’t know how to be more clear about this topic. There is no “I”. There is no you (singular). As indicated in this article at bigthink.com – we are made up of 90% microbes. Basically, we – WE – are a group organism. Symbiotic doesn’t even approach the idea. Symbiosis is two or more group organisms working together. At the cellular level – there is no you.
Even in basic decision-making – like to read this article or not – to have read this article this far or not – are not individual decisions made by a “you” as indicated by this article. I also remember reading a great article a long time ago that indicated that there is no “you” in decision-making, that in fact, all decisions are done on a subconscious level and rationalized after the fact by your consciousness.
So, if you have a visceral sense – and immediate like a person. This is not your decision. This is your group organism telling you what it needs to tell you. We are more like biological robots than individuals making decisions. That doesn’t absolve us of responsibility. Obviously, we can override the visceral decisions. However, “you” aren’t override those decisions. You as a group entity are making that choice.
So, is a codop – an electronic simulation of you – you? No, it isn’t. No, it doesn’t matter. In fact, achieving a type of immortality through electronic copies of ourselves is in fact reproduction.
“Way Station” by Clifford D. Simak is a good example of the principle that there is no you. Enoch Wallace operates a Star Trek style transporter for aliens that visit Earth. There is a key fact that Simak explores that most people ignore about transporters. Enoch has to kill the aliens bodies that are left in his home when they go back to their starships. Star Trek it all looks so neat and clean. Disintegration at the transporter pads and then re-creation at the destination. Wait, what? Basically, what it is showing is killing you at one place while identifying where all the molecules and atoms are located in your body. Then, re-creating you at the destination from the destination’s molecules and atoms. So, if you inherently is the molecules and atoms that make up your body – well, then you are dead and that is someone else, a reproduction that is very nearly the same as you – but not you – at the destination.
Some more problems arise from Star Trek style transporters that will mirror problems when we electronically duplicate ourselves in computers – becoming codops. Once you can make one of “you”, the information exists to make many of you. Which one is you? Just the physical version? Or is all of your selves? Who is responsible when a codop breaks the law (I know a question I have asked before)? Who gets to spend the money earned by the physical manifestation? Who gets to spend the money earned by codops?
The answer I suspect lies in the lack of existence of “you”. We are legion. Even now, trapped in a single physical manifestations – we are legion. Only once we are able to create reproductions of ourselves – our legion will be different and larger in scope. We will be many – and each of the many is a specific and different instance of our legion, responsible for its own actions just as a child – reproduction of human physical bodies – are responsible for their own actions when they come of age.