Dec 14, 2018 9:46 PM
jean finds ardas suspicious. because we are mean, we drop him in one where this is a bad assumption
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“...you take a sample of someone’s, I don’t know, blood or something, and use it to make an embryo with the same genes somehow, and they grow up looking exactly the same...?”

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"I see the problem. The thing we do is not that. I don't know why it's translating that way. The word 'fork' is derived from a word for an eating utensil with several prongs. Forks aren't just - and in fact don't strictly have to be - genetically identical. They are copies of the states of our souls."

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"...it's probably confused because we don't have that. My sister can fix it when she gets here, I don't remember how. ... So they -- have the same brain?"

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"- people, at least here, are... a way that information constantly reassembles itself. Memories are information, sense data is information; a person is what connects all that information and makes new information out of it and has a perspective on all of it. If that's not happening, but all the information still exists, the person is unconscious. Does that make sense? I can rephrase it if not."

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"...it doesn't really but I don't know if that's because you work differently, or because the translator is working badly, or just because I am -- not exactly a philosopher."

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"Would you like me to try again or try to be more object-level?"

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"...I suppose I don't understand what it means for a person to be -- a way that information assembles itself? I don't, ah, feel like I'm made of information -- are libraries people..."

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"Libraries aren't people because they aren't organized in a way, and don't perform computation in a way, that results in thought. Not all ways for information to self-organize are people. But our souls are, more or less, computers."

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"Yes, that's what Fëanáro told me -- humans don't have those, though."

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"Neither do Dwarves, or Ainur, but they still contain and manipulate information. The fact that Elves are in fact instantiated in computer format is separate from the fact that people - the activity of personhood - is the sort of thing that computers can do when they are architected for it. But the fact that Elves are in fact thus is why Melkor was able to do what he did."

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"I still don't understand but I am starting to think the difficulty is my not being a philosopher."

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"I'll get down to object level, shall I. So. Elves are actually computer programs who happen to pilot bodies. If I forked, right now, then there would be two of me - two of the same program, memories and personality and all. We'd then go on to differ somewhat as we accumulated new experiences. We would not be twins, it would not be a biological matter, this would happen even if I were forked into the body of a rhinoceros for some reason.

"When Melkor killed an Elf's body, he could copy the program off of the chip. And copy it many more times. And run it very fast."

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"Ah."

 

"And -- there's some way to get, ah, not-clones, who don't have all the memories?"

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"Yes. Mandos stores the state of the programs, constantly. They can fork 'me as a baby' just fine, if I authorized that. Or if my husband did, I gave him authorization privileges."

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"And so none of the prisoners wanted to live, because they could just let the versions of them from before live."

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"Not 'because'; forks are allowed to coexist, and often do, if someone wants to live multiple lives in parallel. Versions of them from before they were captured do live. Those are fine. My husband is one of them. The ones the transcripts are about are - rescue simulations. We wanted to see if - if those threads of experience that Melkor was playing with, any of them, might be able to end in happy lives with enough patience and care. We concluded they probably can't. They just don't want to exist. They're too damaged."

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"--why would you want to rescue those -- threads -- though? If you could just have a version of you that hadn't been through that?"

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"- once a fork is forked, they're separate people. We don't have a merge procedure, though we're working on it. If someone has been captured and tortured it seems fairly natural to want to rescue them, if you can. They're dead, but not irretrievably dead, because Mandos has their backups. They could be rescued if we had a way to do that. We just don't know how, and it might be that there isn't a way."

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"People are weird," Jean concludes. "Okay. So none of them wanted to live, because they'd been tortured, and none of them decided to live even though they didn't want to, because there were other versions of them anyway."

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"I don't know that the latter consideration was actually operative in any of those decisions."

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"...otherwise I'd expect some to live, surely."

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"I suppose there are people who might carry on while suicidal in order to accomplish something they considered important, but I think having been dead for centuries in the intervening time, society being generally post-scarcity, and no one being interested in demanding their continued existence to their detriment would prune away most of them even if there weren't non-suicidal forks."

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"...it's hard to imagine no one having anything they cared about more than whether they happened to personally enjoy life -- people they loved, promises to keep, art to make..."

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"None of these people were in a position to be good family members or friends, and their children, if they had them, were all grown up, and their loved ones wouldn't have asked them to keep doing - that. I suppose some of them might have undischarged promises but oaths haven't been binding for some time now and no one would hold them to those promises under these circumstances. I do not think any of them were in a creative mindset."

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"...okay." Shrug.

 

 

"I'm -- sorry about your husband, if that's an appropriate sentiment."

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