A mental mind-f*ck can be nice

Wednesday, June 24, 2009 7:20 | Filed in Faith & Forteana, Life

Imagine a situation where the human brain can be copied; where the thoughts and memories of one person can be transplanted into another. Now imagine that when you go to sleep the you that is you dies, and a recreation of that person wakes up the following morning.

And the person who woke up the following morning would never know. They would have the memories, the same sorts of thought patterns, and the same environment as the brain which had died the previous night. They would believe that no death was involved: they would believe that they were the same person, only that particular consciousness would no longer exist.

Obviously, all interactions with other people later would be the same. To all intents and purposes, everything would appear as if the first person was still there. The person would indeed still believe themselves to be the first person. Indeed, some people would argue that if this was the case, they actually were the first person.

But to me that’s wrong: if I could implant your thoughts and memories into a second body, so there were two people who thought they were you, and then kill the original, most people would think that this wasn’t okay, and they would object to being murdered.

In this manner, I’d argue that it’s not the same. Just because someone looks like me, thinks like me, and acts like me, doesn’t mean that they are me. For all I know, the consciousness that is me today isn’t the consciousness that was me yesterday, or the one that will be me tomorrow.

When you go to sleep, and your consciousness ends, that might be it permanently. It might be a different you waking up tomorrow.

Sweet dreams…

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7 Comments to A mental mind-f*ck can be nice

  1. Mike says:

    June 24th, 2009 at 7:34 am

    You need to lay off the Benylin mate.

  2. Darren Taylor says:

    June 24th, 2009 at 9:30 am

    A very deep post Jack, where did this come from? You left something very important out and that is the soul. Surely your soul, if you believe such a thing exists, is what makes you you?

  3. Cole says:

    June 24th, 2009 at 9:48 am

    Reckon you’d like the new film Moon (http://www.sonypictures.com/classics/moon/) then Jack which is pretty much based on this exact premise.

    Check it out – I was lucky enough to catch the International Premiere at the Edinburgh Film Festival last week.

    A great sci-Fi film with a real seventies (lo-fi/minimalistic) feel to it.

  4. Jim O'Donnell says:

    June 24th, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    Now I’m trying to remember what the timescale is for the cells in your body to die and be replenished. I have a feeling that, physically speaking, the you that wrote this post is a totally new body of cells compared to you one month ago, say. Arguably a completely new body, yet with the same memories and experiences as the old one.

  5. JackP says:

    June 24th, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    that’s kind of the Trigger argument that asks “if you’ve replaced a broom head twice and the broom handle once, is it still the same broom?”

    I think the replacement varies according to the type of cells (nerve, bone, heart – slow; skin – fast). The common statement is ‘every cell is replaced within 7 years’ is not true – even at age 20, only 1% of heart cells are replaced/year (reduced to about 0.5% at age 75), although it’s likely that my skin is entirely new within 1 month…

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