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Identity map: all known solutions to the identity problem

immortality identity self

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#1 turchin

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Posted 15 August 2016 - 12:07 PM


“Identity” here refers to the question “will my copy be me, and if yes, on which conditions?” It results in several paradoxes which I will not repeat here, hoping that they are known to the reader.

 

Identity is one of the most complex problems, like safe AI or aging. It only appears be simple. It is complex because it has to answer the question: “Who is who?” in the universe, that is to create a trajectory in the space of all possible minds, connecting identical or continuous observer-moments. But such a trajectory would be of the same complexity as all space of possible minds, and that is very complex.

 

There have been several attempts to dismiss the complexity of the identity problem, like open individualism (I am everybody) or zero-individualism (I exist only now). But they do not prevent the existence of “practical identity” which I use when planning my tomorrow or when I am afraid of future pain.

 

The identity problem is also very important. If we (or AI) arrive at an incorrect solution, we will end up being replaced by p-zombies or just copies-which-are-not-me during a “great uploading”. It will be a very subtle end of the world.

 

The identity problem is also equivalent to the immortality problem. if I am able to describe “what is me”, I would know what I need to save forever. This has practical importance now, as I am collecting data for my digital immortality (I even created a startup about it and the map will be my main contribution to it. If I solve the identity problem I will be able to sell the solution as a service http://motherboard.v...l-live-forever)

 

So we need to know how much and what kind of information I should preserve in order to be resurrected by future AI. What information is enough to create a copy of me? And is information enough at all?

 

Moreover, the identity problem (IP) may be equivalent to the benevolent AI problem, because the first problem is, in a nutshell, “What is me” and the second is “What is good for me”. Regardless, the IP requires a solution of consciousness problem, and AI problem (that is solving the nature of intelligence) are somewhat similar topics.

 

I wrote 100+ pages trying to solve the IP, and became lost in the ocean of ideas. So I decided to use something like the AIXI method of problem solving: I will list all possible solutions, even the most crazy ones, and then assess them.

 

The following map is connected with several other maps: the map of p-zombies, the plan of future research into the identity problem, and the map of copies. http://lesswrong.com...ap_of_pzombies/

 

The map is based on idea that each definition of identity is also a definition of Self, and it is also strongly connected with one philosophical world view (for example, dualism). Each definition of identity answers a question “what is identical to what”. Each definition also provides its own answers to the copy problem as well as to its own definition of death - which is just the end of identity – and also presents its own idea of how to reach immortality.

 

So on the horizontal axis we have classes of solutions:

“Self" definition - corresponding identity definition - philosophical reality theory - criteria and question of identity - death and immortality definitions.

 

On the vertical axis are presented various theories of Self and identity from the most popular on the upper level to the less popular described below:

 

 

1) The group of theories which claim that a copy is not original, because some kind of non informational identity substrate exists. Different substrates: same atoms, qualia, soul or - most popular - continuity of consciousness. All of them require that the physicalism will be false. But some instruments for preserving identity could be built. For example we could preserve the same atoms or preserve the continuity of consciousness of some process like the fire of a candle. But no valid arguments exist for any of these theories. In Parfit’s terms it is a numerical identity (being the same person). It answers the question “What I will experience in the next moment of time"

 

2) The group of theories which claim that a copy is original, if it is informationally the same. This is the main question about the required amount of information for the identity. Some theories obviously require too much information, like the positions of all atoms in the body to be the same, and other theories obviously do not require enough information, like the DNA and the name.

 

3) The group of theories which see identity as a social phenomenon. My identity is defined by my location and by the ability of others to recognise me as me.

 

4) The group of theories which connect my identity with my ability to make plans for future actions. Identity is a meaningful is part of a decision theory.

 

5)  Indirect definitions of self. This a group of theories which define something with which self is strongly connected, but which is not self. It is a biological brain, space-time continuity, atoms, cells or complexity. In this situation we say that we don’t know what constitutes identity but we could know with what it is directly connected and could preserve it.

 

6) Identity as a sum of all its attributes, including name, documents, and recognition by other people. It is close to Leibniz’s definition of identity. Basically, it is a duck test: if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it is probably a duck. 

 

7) Human identity is something very different to identity of other things or possible minds, as humans have evolved to have an idea of identity, self-image, the ability to distinguish their own identity and the identity of others, and to predict its identity. So it is a complex adaptation which consists of many parts, and even if some parts are missed, they could be restored using other parts. 

There also a problem of legal identity and responsibility. 

 

8)  Self-determination. “Self” controls identity, creating its own criteria of identity and declaring its nature. The main idea here is that the conscious mind can redefine its identity in the most useful way. It also includes the idea that self and identity evolve during differing stages of personal human evolution. 

 

9) Identity is meaningless. The popularity of this subset of ideas is growing. Zero-identity and  open identity both belong to this subset. The main contra-argument here is that if we cut the idea of identity, future planning will be impossible and we will have to return to some kind of identity through the back door. The idea of identity comes also with the idea of the values of individuality. If we are replaceable like ants in an anthill, there are no identity problems. There is also no problem with murder.

 

The following is a series of even less popular theories of identity, some of them I just constructed ad hoc.

10)  Self is a subset of all thinking beings. We could see a space of all possible minds as divided into subsets, and call them separate personalities.

 

11)  Non-binary definitions of identity.

The idea that me or not-me identity solutions are too simple and result in all logical problems. if we define identity continuously, as a digit of the interval (0,1), we will get rid of some paradoxes and thus be able to calculate the identity level of similarity or time until the given next stage could be used as such a measure. Even a complex digit can be used if we include informational and continuous identity (in a Parfit meaning).

 

12) Negative definitions of identity: we could try to say what is not me.

13) Identity as overlapping observer-moments.

14) Identity as a field of indexical uncertainty, that is a group of observers to which I belong, but can’t know which one I am.

15) Conservative approach to identity. As we don’t know what identity is we should try to save as much as possible, and risk our identity only if it is the only means of survival. That means no copy/paste transportation to Mars for pleasure, but yes if it is the only chance to survive (this is my own position).

16)  Identity as individuality, i.e. uniqueness. If individuality doesn’t exist or doesn’t have any value, identity is not important.

17) Identity as a result of the ability to distinguish different people. Identity here is a property of perception.

18) Mathematical identity. Identity may be presented as a number sequence, where each number describes a full state of mind. Useful toy model.

19) Infinite identity. The main idea here is that any mind has the non-zero probability of becoming any other mind after a series of transformations. So only one identity exists in all the space of all possible minds, but the expected time for me to become a given person is dramatically different in the case of future me (1 day) and a random person (10 to the power of 100 years). This theory also needs a special version of quantum immortality which resets “memories” of a dying being to zero, resulting in something like reincarnation, or an infinitely repeating universe in the style of Nietzsche's eternal recurrence.  

20) Identity in a multilevel simulation. As we probably live in a simulation, there is a chance that it is multiplayer game in which one gamer has several avatars and can constantly have experiences through all of them. It is like one eye through several people.

21) Splitting identity. This is an idea that future identity could split into several (or infinitely many) streams. If we live in a quantum multiverse we split every second without any (perceived) problems. We are also adapted to have several future copies if we think about “me-tomorrow” and “me-the-day-after-tomorrow”.

 

This list shows only groups of identity definitions, many more smaller ideas are included in the map.

The only rational choice I see is a conservative approach, acknowledging that we don’t know the nature of identity and trying to save as much as possible of each situation in order to preserve identity.

The pdf: http://immortality-r...dentityeng8.pdf

 

Some interesting discussion is here: 

http://lesswrong.com...c/identity_map/



#2 Clifford Greenblatt

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Posted 20 August 2016 - 11:29 PM

The identity question has appeared several times in this forum because it is of great importance to the issue of immortality. The longest thread on this, as far as I know was “What Constitutes ‘me’?” from back in the B. J. Kline era (thread started on 25 August 2002). However, I have not seen a map of all possible identity solutions until this post.

 

I think “personhood” terminology describes the issue better than “identity” terminology, as “identity” is just a means of trying to identify a person. Work by Derek Parfit shows that there is no really unique personhood based on physical factors. However, his work fails to take into account the nonphysical nature of conscious experience. Even taking into account the nonphysical nature of conscious experience, Derek Parfit’s view still holds unless conscious experience does not supervene on physical things. This introduces the question of the personal soul. With a personal soul, personhood is defined by a property of conscious experience that is unique to each person. Such personhood is independent of anything physical about the person, including psychological and even “personality” factors.

 

Death does not really mean an end to identity, regardless of whether personhood is physical or nonphysical. If personhood is only physical, identity would specify physical conditions that would ensure existence of all that is essential to the person for unlimited instances in the global scheme of nature. If personhood is not physically determined, but there is a nonphysical, personal soul, then the spiritual nature of the person becomes essential to identity and the biblical concept of resurrection would be highly relevant.


Edited by Clifford Greenblatt, 20 August 2016 - 11:31 PM.


#3 RGCheek

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Posted 21 August 2016 - 04:25 PM

If it is true that our bodies entirely replace all of the material within it approximately every seven years, are we the same person we were ten years ago? 

 

I would say yes. We have the same stream of consciousness or soul that we had ten years ago.

 

If our consciousness is interrupted by anasthesia, deep sleep, or death and resuscitation, our memories re-establish that connection.

 

If we experience unconsciousness and revive with no memories of who were were, we are still the same person legally, socially and physically.  If I killed someone prior to my frontal lobotomy and could not remember doing it, *I* still did it.

 

But suppose we had some super advanced tech that effectively would be magical to us today, and we made six copies of the murderer and all of the had a stream on continued consciousness but none of them could remember the murder their single self 'ancestor' had committed, which would be held responsible? All of them? None of them?

 

If the murderer could switch minds with an innocent person, who is guilty of the murder, the old body with the new mind, or the old mind with the new body?

 

Interesting questions, that we might see in Reality within the next century.



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#4 Clifford Greenblatt

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Posted 22 August 2016 - 01:47 AM

The question of whether a person is legally responsible for a murder is not so futuristic. Someone could kill another person in response to an erroneous belief that the other person is an imminent threat to his life.


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#5 seivtcho

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Posted 23 August 2016 - 11:40 AM

...

 

We have the same stream of consciousness or soul that we had ten years ago.

 

If our consciousness is interrupted by anasthesia, deep sleep, or death and resuscitation, our memories re-establish that connection.

 

...

 

That is not true.

 

Our brain is cappable of forgetting as a general ability. This is a proven fact from the neurology, psychiatrics, and the brain physiology. All medics learn that in their books - that the brain has the ability to forget.

 

Thanks to this ability it forgets and therefore it constantly destroys and replaces your current mind identity.

For example ask yourself what do you remember from the period between your 5 and 15 years of age? You may conut several, ten, ot maybe twenty single happenings, but this is nothing. These are ten years, that has passed in that period, and 10x365 days passed with 10x365x24 hours in them. What can you remember from all of that time? More than 99,99% of your memories has been lost forever and are currently replaced with new memories. Your childhood mental identity is lost - destroyed and replaced - in zombee style if you wish - from your own brain. Your current identity will be lost after 20 years at the most. This entire day, that you now read this post may be lost forever from your brain, the entire current month will be lost, maybe the entire 2016 year will be out of your memories after 30 years. Your future mind identity is destroying your current identity. Right in this moment.

 

On the same way your brain destroys memories, it changes perosnality, views, oppinions, needs, desires, etc. whatever you think of.

 

Everything you name a consciousness or a soul - your way of thinking, your memories, your desires, likes, needs, loves and hates, everything is being destroyed and replaced in large enough periods of time.


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#6 seivtcho

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Posted 23 August 2016 - 11:45 AM

@turchin

 

I get lost in your map. I didnt manage to understand. Do you make difference between the different kinds of identity? I mean we have a genetic identity, brain identity, law identity, national identity, etc.



#7 RGCheek

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Posted 23 August 2016 - 02:47 PM

 

...

 

We have the same stream of consciousness or soul that we had ten years ago.

 

If our consciousness is interrupted by anasthesia, deep sleep, or death and resuscitation, our memories re-establish that connection.

 

...

 

That is not true.

 

Our brain is cappable of forgetting as a general ability. This is a proven fact from the neurology, psychiatrics, and the brain physiology. All medics learn that in their books - that the brain has the ability to forget.

 

.....

 

Everything you name a consciousness or a soul - your way of thinking, your memories, your desires, likes, needs, loves and hates, everything is being destroyed and replaced in large enough periods of time.

 

 

The brain doesnt have to retain 100% of our memories to re-establish a continuation of a stream of consciousness.  Probably it requires no more than the last 50% of the memories made over the previous day and much lower percentages of time prior to that.  The point is that we retain a sense of who we are having a prior existence.

 

As to what of our soul is destroyed and replaced, that is not 100% true. Our ability to focus usually maintains itself well into old age and any other related forms of dementia. 

 

It is our ability to choose what we focus on, we think on and what to fill our minds with that most denotes and manifests the soul, not memories.



#8 RGCheek

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Posted 23 August 2016 - 02:50 PM

The question of whether a person is legally responsible for a murder is not so futuristic. Someone could kill another person in response to an erroneous belief that the other person is an imminent threat to his life.

 

Yes, there are already some issues related to responsibility and I guess there always has been, but this is a new angle when a persons mind itself can trade bodies or go into multiple bodies.

 

Who is the responsible party then? The New body with the old mind or the old body with the new mind?  Is it copy #1, or #2, or #3?

 

We will have a hard time keeping our legal code up to a rational standard with some of the things that are likely to happen over the next few decades.



#9 seivtcho

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Posted 23 August 2016 - 03:18 PM

The brain doesnt have to retain 100% of our memories to re-establish a continuation of a stream of consciousness.  Probably it requires no more than the last 50% of the memories made over the previous day and much lower percentages of time prior to that.  The point is that we retain a sense of who we are having a prior existence.

 

As to what of our soul is destroyed and replaced, that is not 100% true. Our ability to focus usually maintains itself well into old age and any other related forms of dementia. 

 

It is our ability to choose what we focus on, we think on and what to fill our minds with that most denotes and manifests the soul, not memories.

 

 

I can't fully understand what do you mean by "consciousness". What is that part of the consciousness, according to you, that never changes through your entire life, and that identifies exactly and only you? I don't think there is such a thing in our minds. Permanent plus extremely speciphic.

 

Our ability to focus on something is not speciphic only for you. It can't distinguish you from me, for example. I also have the ability to focus.

 

Our idea or sense of who we are changes with the time, and the dementia patients with an advanced dementia forget who they are and they loose even that - the sense of who thry are. It is described in the medical books - neurology and psychiatrics.

 

If you define the idea of who you are based on 50% of your current memories, you may define only who you are currently, for now.



#10 RGCheek

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Posted 23 August 2016 - 03:32 PM

 

The brain doesnt have to retain 100% of our memories to re-establish a continuation of a stream of consciousness.  Probably it requires no more than the last 50% of the memories made over the previous day and much lower percentages of time prior to that.  The point is that we retain a sense of who we are having a prior existence.

 

As to what of our soul is destroyed and replaced, that is not 100% true. Our ability to focus usually maintains itself well into old age and any other related forms of dementia. 

 

It is our ability to choose what we focus on, we think on and what to fill our minds with that most denotes and manifests the soul, not memories.

 

 

I can't fully understand what do you mean by "consciousness". What is that part of the consciousness, according to you, that never changes through your entire life, and that identifies exactly and only you? I don't think there is such a thing in our minds. Permanent plus extremely speciphic.

 

Our ability to focus on something is not speciphic only for you. It can't distinguish you from me, for example. I also have the ability to focus.

 

Our idea or sense of who we are changes with the time, and the dementia patients with an advanced dementia forget who they are and they loose even that - the sense of who thry are. It is described in the medical books - neurology and psychiatrics.

 

If you define the idea of who you are based on 50% of your current memories, you may define only who you are currently, for now.

 

Well, I have to put this in a rather long post because I am running out of allowed posts so please bear with me.

 

Consciousness is the ability to think rationally with self perception and its key memories form a stream of consciousness, and provide the building blocks about what kind of person one is and what one is willing or not willing to do, and altogether form what is the "me".  These things are permanent features of the human mind and distinguish us from strong AI as persons, IMO.

 

Our ability to focus is not required to be unique in order for it to define us as unique. I can drive my car and you can drive your car, but we both have cars and can drive them.  We can both focus on what stimuli surround us, but that does not meld us together except categorically. We are still separate individuals, at least for now.

 

Yes, dementia robs us of our memory gradually over years. A close relative of mine is dying from advanced dementia. We do not know how much more time they have, but the fuzzy point of loss of self awareness is still quite some ways away, and though there has been some diminishment, they are still very functional and capable of caring for themselves.   Suppose she reaches a state of complete memory loss, she will still be able to focus one various stimuli, great people and carry on some conversation even if she forgets what she is saying in mid-sentence. If it gets to the point that she cant even speak, she is still a person because of her potential. If one day a drug is developed that reverses all that, then she is back, as memories can be restored.

 

Long term memories do tend to change, but not so much that we forget that we believe or do not believe in a Creator, or that we dont like Brussell Sprouts, or that we find Red Skelton funny.

 

There will still be a "we" through it all.

 

 


Edited by RGCheek, 23 August 2016 - 03:33 PM.


#11 seivtcho

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Posted 23 August 2016 - 04:17 PM

I don't want to destroy your views and world, @RGCheek

 

In the philosophy it seems everyone is right for himself :)

 

If you want to believe, that this is what makes you, then believe.

 

My moral task is only to tell you, that everything you write is changeble.

And in the final stages of the dementia if the person lives long enough to reach it, the person simply lies completely non contact on the bed constantly pronounces unconscious meaningless and hesiatating sounds and shits in the bed unabled to any brain function you can possibly imagine.

 

 

The interesting thing is that I also have reached the idea, that the person is still a person and that if one day a dementia treatment is developed then person's mind will be back, as memories can be restored artifitially.

 

But this in me is due to other type of phylosophy and I see that as a hope for the future.



#12 RGCheek

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 10:30 PM

Lol, dont worry about destroying my world views, eivtcho, and please speak freely.
 
Yes, I know that everything outside of the Creator is changeable and is changing. I ahve changed since yesterday, but I am still *me*.
 
The future holds a great deal of promise, IF we can get through the troubling times of transitioning from the current world views to the next first.  
 
It seems ever change in society's moral and intellectual paradigm is fraught with danger, risk and reward as well.

Edited by RGCheek, 24 August 2016 - 10:31 PM.


#13 seivtcho

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Posted 25 August 2016 - 10:09 AM

Alright. Then what you say are permanent features in post number 10 are not permanent

ability to think rationally - changebla with the time, lost in the dementia

self perception - definately lost in the dementia, changeble from philosophical point of view

key memories - absolutely deletable and changeble as a result of the normal brain function; completely deminished in the dementia.

 

I believe, that even if you have changed since yesterday, you are still you, because of two factors:

 

First - I think that we are our DNA pus the result based on that DNA. E.g., you are not something that is unchangeble, the opposite - you are a large changeble mass, and until that changable mass of cells is still existent as a biomass, you are still alive.

 

Second - I make a difference between being unchanged and being alive. Being alive according to the biology means, that your cells have to exchange matter with the surrounding environment and to be able of a constant repair. E.g. being alive contradicts to being unchangable in the atom-by-atom view for the construction of your body.

 

If you want to be unchangable, freeze yourself at the absolute zero and stay like that forever. It is possible for the science today to keep you forever dead.

 

If you want to be alive, live and don't care that your identities eat each-other with the time.


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#14 RGCheek

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Posted 25 August 2016 - 05:36 PM

Alright. Then what you say are permanent features in post number 10 are not permanent

ability to think rationally - changebla with the time, lost in the dementia

self perception - definately lost in the dementia, changeble from philosophical point of view

key memories - absolutely deletable and changeble as a result of the normal brain function; completely deminished in the dementia.

 

I believe, that even if you have changed since yesterday, you are still you, because of two factors:

 

First - I think that we are our DNA pus the result based on that DNA. E.g., you are not something that is unchangeble, the opposite - you are a large changeble mass, and until that changable mass of cells is still existent as a biomass, you are still alive.

 

Second - I make a difference between being unchanged and being alive. Being alive according to the biology means, that your cells have to exchange matter with the surrounding environment and to be able of a constant repair. E.g. being alive contradicts to being unchangable in the atom-by-atom view for the construction of your body.

 

If you want to be unchangable, freeze yourself at the absolute zero and stay like that forever. It is possible for the science today to keep you forever dead.

 

If you want to be alive, live and don't care that your identities eat each-other with the time.

Meh, the ability to think rationally  and the ability to form key memories  are permanent, though they can be suppressed or lay dormant for a while due to illness, they are never truly lost. 

 

In the future if we develop the tech to reverse these things, even the specific memories are not permanently lost, but the ability to form memories is not lost, though they might be fleeting. 

 

A person in a vegetative state could have all these things too and we just dont know it because they cannot express themselves. 

 

A person could even lose self awareness due to illness and still be a person.s or injury.

 

I am speaking of the normal function of the mind as to what constitutes the self. Temporary setbacks for a person that are not central to normal behavior and function are a kind of exception to that set of observations as is the case with all observations. Do we toss out inductive reason altogether here?


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#15 seivtcho

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Posted 25 August 2016 - 10:56 PM

Unfortunately, it is not a matter of expression.

 

All mental abilities are due to the connections between the neurons in the brain. They include 1) the information processing - part of which is what you call the ability to think rationaly and 2) the ability to form new memories.

 

The age related dementia kills out the neurons and thus it damages the mental abilities too. When it kill out enough neurons, it disrupts the connections between them and the ability is lost. The same neural network will not give the same output with lets say half of its neurons.



#16 seivtcho

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Posted 25 August 2016 - 10:58 PM

P.S.

I am very for searching a cure for the age related dementia







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