About the author

I am the author, co-author, secondary-author, ghost-author, and non-author of articles, speeches, book chapters, and even entire books! The most recent can be found at LosingMyReligions.net. Currently, I am President of One Step for Animals; previously, I was shitcanned from so many nonprofits that we can’t list them all here. Before my unfortunate encounter with activism, I was an aerospace engineer who wanted to work for NASA (to impress Carl Sagan). My hobbies include photography, almost dying, and {REDACTED}. I live in Tucson with my soulmate and reluctant editor Anne, along with the occasional snake and scorpion.

Friday, January 7, 2022

Some people really don't seem to understand consciousness

I read a recent post asserting that an exact duplicate of you would be you. 

I'm always bewildered by claims like this. It makes me think that the person doesn't actually have a subjective inner life, that their thoughts and "feelings" are not anything other than computations. 

If I was exactly duplicated, Anne wouldn't know which one of us was the person she went to bed with last night. But I would still be experiencing my pains and desires not differently than I was before I was duplicated. I would still be able to be killed, and it would still be murder, even though there would still be a Matt running One Step, taking care of money, and chasing after Anne. 

This is why the Star Trek transporter is crazy to me. Every time someone is transported, their consciousness ends. That is, they die, and a duplicate of them takes over, even though the duplicate feels a continuity of consciousness.

STNG's Second Chances makes this case clearly. Riker is duplicated in a transporter mishap. Two exact copies are created. Which one is the person who went to be beamed up? It can't be both - their brains are creating separate consciousnesses. It can't be one of them, as they're both the same. It is clearly neither - the original person is dead.

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