About the author

Matt is the author, co-author, secondary-author, ghost-author, and non-author of articles, speeches, book chapters, and even entire books! Next will be the bestseller "Losing My Religions." Currently, he is President of One Step for Animals; previously, he was shitcanned from more nonprofits than there is room to list here. Before Matt’s unfortunate encounter with activism, he was an aerospace engineer who wanted to work for NASA to impress Carl Sagan. His hobbies include photography, almost dying, and {REDACTED} He lives in Tucson with Anne and no dogs, no cats, and no African tortoises (although he cares for all of these).

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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