Podcast No. 30 Posted 2/21/2011   Leave a comment

Podcast No. 30 Posted 2/21/2011

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TITLE:  Truths of Terasem – The “Who” of Terasem  1.8 – 1.8.6

SUB TITLE:  The Four Components of Identity

SUMMARY:  The personal identity of a sentient being is not some kind of monolithic, undifferentiated “it’s me”,  but rather it is a network of internal and external perceptions of oneself, inextricably intertwined with the times and events through which one lived, as seen from where and when you are.  What does it take to awaken that “you” so many fear will be lost upon death, or even after cryonic suspension if reanimation is not carried out properly, either in physical space and time, or even in cyberspace, such that one has firm memories and sense of orientation of where one “once was” as well as “where one is now”?  Does this in any way interfere with vast and unrestricted potential of individuality in your life, or might it make it even more vivid and real, as well as indestructible and endless, in simpler terms, “immortal”.

KEYWORDS:  1.8-1.8.6, continuer, identity, amnesia, Qi, Ti, .

Music  – “Earthseed” fades out, as the voice recording begins.

(Fred)  Hi, we’re Fred & Linda Chamberlain, with podcast 30 on the Truths of Terasem.  In this podcast we’re going to explore “what makes you ‘you’ and how that implies that you may find yourself ‘going on in time’ virtually endlessly, despite your concerns that this may be almost impossible, or even absolutely impossible.

(Linda)  I like the sound of that.  Does that mean we can drop our cryonics arrangements and start eating chocolate chip cookies again?

(Fred)  Just the opposite.  There is so much to be done before we get out the SCUBA gear and dive into liquid nitrogen that we could usefully work here in biological bodies until well into the Singularity, and be at the leading edge of it in cyberspace at the same time.  However, cryonics stays, and chocolate chip cookies are a past memory of indulgence that we may cherish like an older child or adult may remember once hungering for cherry lollipops, but no longer being obsessed by an immediate desire for them.

This view of human identity is so vast, yet so plausible, compellingly in tune with religions and yet so deeply rooted in logic and science that it might be taken as a fantasy both by those immersed in mysticism and those convinced that surviving through technology is the only thing that has any chance of practical realization.

(Linda)  Now, just a minute!  If these ideas about identity are supposed  to be so plausible and yet span visions all the way from mysticism to hard-science strategies for identity survival through technology,  how can that be?  You can’t have it both ways, can you?

(Fred)  Maybe you can.  I’m going to come at this in a relatively simple way.  People worry that if something that looks like them and has their memories and their personalities wakes up in an ‘afterlife’ resuming consciousness after they were known to have died, other than in some heaven predicted by their particular religion, even if they are surrounded by people they remember as being their family and friends, there may be a problem.  They are not sure it ‘would really be them’.

Yet, taking examples from medicine, we know that there are many present day cases where living persons suffer far worse in the way of brain injury or compromise and then ‘live on’, despite any such imagined impossibility of survival, of it ‘being them’.  Cases of retrograde amnesia, or total amnesia, are adjusted to despite concerns of this kind by the victims as well as the families and friends.

(Linda)  I can really relate to that!  When I was about 13 I was in a car accident that left me paralyzed and in a coma.  When I came out of the coma, I had lost most of my life memories.  I could understand spoken English, and I recognized my family, but I had to have my memories of specific events “reloaded” by family members.  To this day, I’m never sure if something I (quote-un-quote) remember about my childhood is really being reconstructed in the normal way our brains do that for us, or if it is a reconstruction of some implanted memory.  By implanted memory, I mean, some story I heard others in the family tell, rather than something I actually experienced.  None the less, I never questioned whether or not it was really me in that bed!  And, I have never once wondered about that since then.  Just like I don’t wonder if it is really me, when I open my eyes each morning.

(Fred)  That’s a wonderful example!  The question of ‘would it be you?’ turns almost upside down, to a proposition of “given the slightest indication that it’s you, barring contrary evidence like a ‘seemingly better qualified competitor you’ claiming to be the ‘real you’, how could it be anything except you?”  If everyone around you believes you’re you, and if every fact you can turn up indicates that there are no other you-s, that exist, what basis you would have to argue it was otherwise, aside from fear based conjectures such as those that might arise once you’ve been told that you actually have an artificial brain with your memories implanted in it?

(Linda)  Fred, that was unkind!  Just when we almost had them sold, you ‘blew’ it!  Why couldn’t you have left out the part about the artificial brain?  I mean…

(Fred)  I know, Linda, and that was really just to wake up anyone who might have been on the verge of falling asleep.  Actually, there’s a great explanation of this issue in Forever for All by Dr. Mike Perry that is so good we’ll quote briefly from it later and then expand, but first we must introduce the term he uses and give an illustration for why it is a useful one.  The term is “continuer”.

Perry contends, in great detail and considering many alternatives, that a less than perfect replica of you, in particular of your brain, is, not withstanding those imperfections, sufficiently the same “you” as you once were to constitute the real you, from every aspect of personal individuality, social connectivity, and satisfaction that what has been created is not just “something that thinks it is you”, but is “you, yourself”.

(Linda)  Stop!  I’ve read reams of arguments that claim that not only is a perfect copy not you, but even if all the relative positions of the atoms are accounted for, and one goes to the trouble of putting the actual atoms in place that were in the former “real you”, it still wouldn’t be “you”.  How do you answer that?

(Fred)  Dr. Perry might ask for a definition on the part of the one who was objecting, as to what would constitute a real you, but he would also know that people who raise such objections are rarely able to come up with any kind of consistent, integrated concept of that at all, much less one that makes any kind of sense, so he side steps that with the term we need to make use of, a “continuer”.  He points out that even though  the replica may not be exact, it can functionally “continue” for the person who it replaces, to the satisfaction of all who have relationships with that person and to the satisfaction of the person himself or herself, with the qualification and admission the it is not exactly the same person.

I’m going to take that one step further and suggest that even if there are near-infinite imperfections of a small enough scale, the “continuer” as defined by Dr. Perry is more like the “original” person from whom she or he is derived, than a person who awakes tomorrow after a normal night’s sleep is like the person he or she was the previous night.  In effect, it seems reasonable to me to say that each of us who falls soundly asleep wakes up as a somewhat ragged copy the next morning, far cruder than what might be presumed a “continuer” if it were a person who had been frozen by cryonic suspension and whose brain was reasonably rebuilt by replicator nanotechnology sometime in the future.

Think about that carefully.  Imagine a person in cryonic suspension who was later repaired by replicator nanotechnology, where the pathways between neurons were all replaced by replicas that are non-biological, functional equivalents.  I’m saying that this repaired person, upon reanimation, is more like that person before they were frozen than any of us are like the he or she that we were the previous night before falling asleep.  Is that an extreme enough example?

(Linda)  I know a lot of people who would argue with it, but I don’t want to slow you up at this point.  Why don’t you go ahead and say why you think this is a correct way to think about it?

(Fred)  When you fall asleep, you literally ‘lose consciousness’ and except for some short dream states of which you have almost no memory, you will awaken with no sense of what has even gone on within your own mind, much less any sense of what has gone on in the world outside yourself.  In that respect, you’ve roughly experienced “being in cryonic suspension”, with one profound difference.  Your brain is in no respectably identical way even a rough “copy” of the brain with which you fell asleep.

(Linda)  How can you say that?

(Fred)  It’s easy.  During sleep, unlike cryonic suspension, your neurons continue to metabolize.  Deferred work in converting short term memory to long term memory continues, with loss of tremendous amounts of detail and distortions that further contribute to reduction of what is retained.  Axons are projecting and falling away from former synapses, and dendritic spines on the receptor neurons are growing and receding from lack of use, neurons in huge numbers are dying, and some take on the functional roles of those lost, but in such a way as not be detectable by current science now, except if it were to be applied to tiny volumes of tissue, which at present we have no way to do.

In any case, the brain with which you wake up tomorrow will be so different than the brain you fell asleep with tonight as to make all those arguments about slight inexactness of copying a brain ridiculous.  More practically, if in the process of repairing a frozen brain you improved the capacity to assimilate and retain memories in any fundamental way, even if it were only by putting better neurotransmitter regulation in place, you’d expect the repaired brain to be more like the one from which it was derived than if it had been given a normal night’s sleep, fewer lost memories in the first night’s sleep it did get, with loss of fewer neurons dying off and being functionally replaced by others, than before you were frozen.

But, with that example we can get back to the question of whether or not broader applications of the “continuer” idea make sense.  Dr. Perry doesn’t restrict this concept to repaired frozen brains, where it is futile to argue that the repaired brain is not for all intents and purposes the same as the one which was frozen.  Perry asks if it isn’t just as reasonable to say that if a completely new brain were created that had essentially the same memories as an earlier one, a personality shape very much like the earlier one, even was on the same genome, that new brain would for all practical purposes be the same as the old one?

(Linda)  That is stretching a bit further.  Those that argue against this may choose not to pursue or even permit it.  Those who take it as a valid idea, along with their families and friends, are likely to have no trouble with it.  How does Perry address the question of ethics where the person concerned rejects the idea altogether?  Is that person then lost forever?

(Fred)  Not necessarily.  A “continuer” of that person, upon awakening, and acquiring the advanced knowledge then available, would be acquainted with the fact that the person from whom he or she was derived would in no way have accepted the idea that the continuer was in fact the “same” person.  Then, the continuer would be asked how he or she felt about that in the context of their up-dated view of the issue, based on current information.  If the continuer still held to the original position, he or she might think of himself or herself as being more like an identical twin with a high degree of knowledge of the personal history of the person from whom he or she came.

On the other hand, if the continuer found the idea of being the “continuer” of the original person plausible, then that person would have reversed or “ratified” a change of position, and the former friends and family would welcome that person back into their midst.  All of this of course is subject to the cultural ethics of a time we can scarcely imagine now, so we can only guess at what might happen.  We can only conclude that the person is not necessarily ‘lost to us’ forever, on account of having died.

(Linda)  There are so many facets of this that we’d better not get too far into quoting Perry’s book, until we’ve covered the essentials of the Truths of Terasem for this week, right?

(Fred)  Very true.  There are several paragraphs we can quote that will make much more sense near the end, than now, so let’s plunge ahead.

(Linda)  Great!   The Expansion for this week starts with, 1.8 (quote) “I” Has Four Dimensions: Terasem is comprised of individual souls, each with four complementary dimensions, at least one of which always exists.”  Can you interpret that one for us, to begin with?

(Fred)  It’s abstract enough, and the rest of them are short enough, so I’ll just go through the whole of them, and then expand from there.  The Elements of this Expansion, 1.8.1 through 1.8.6, are: “The ‘Me of I’ is one’s totality of mannerisms, personality, recollections, feelings, beliefs, attitudes and values.”  Then, “The ‘We of I’ is the image of ourselves in the minds of others,” followed by, “The ‘Ti of I’ is the time-cone of a being’s existence” and “The ‘Qi of I’ is the unique pattern of a being’s energy flows.”

The last two Elements are, and I’ll combine them: “Each dimension of I may serve as a template for cyber-resurrection of Me of I” and “Authoring-self recreates one’s mannerisms, personality, recollections, feelings, beliefs, attitudes and values, until Turing-equivalence is achieved.”  Now, let’s go back and arrange the pieces of this picture puzzle so they all fit a little easier!

The first and last of the Elements essentially say that your mindfiles, created by a process known in Terasem as “self-authoring”, captures all of your  mannerisms, personality, recollections, feelings, beliefs, attitudes and values, to the point where a Turing Test can confirm your unique identity.

That’s easy enough to grasp.  If we implant someone’s mindfiles, qualified in this way, into their otherwise “amnesia-victim” level brain, so that they are remembered as if they were already there prior to waking up, like your experience after your accident but without the necessity of ‘relearning them’ from family and friends, we’ve accomplished enough to produce a sense of “Who they were” and “who they are now”, perhaps in not quite the same way as in the original mind, but perhaps with so much additional readily recalled detail as to produce an impression of, “I never knew my memory was so good!”

The second element is equally simple, “The ‘We of I’ is the image of ourselves in the minds of others,” suggesting that if nothing else, the joint recollections of others as are usually published in cryonics magazines by family and friends after someone is suspended, accomplish two things.  (1) The details, directly implanted, could impart a very rough sense of identity, and (2) the family and friends, if still around or after reanimation, could help further in the person’s learning more about those past relationships and associated details.

(Linda)  Again, that’s exactly what I experienced when I came out of my coma.

(Fred)  Now we come to two more Elements that are more elusive, “The ‘Ti of I’ is the time-cone of a being’s existence” and “The ‘Qi of I’ is the unique pattern of a being’s energy flows.”  The first of these, the time-cone, may represent a widening level of exposure to one’s environment, during which a sense of what’s going on may develop, and can be recaptured from a composite of all the historical knowledge of the period in which one lived, pared down and shaped to emphasize events in the localities one lived as well as on a wider basis, and the general character of what one might have paid attention to most closely, based on one’s education, career, known interests, etc.

From a wealth of general knowledge about what went on everywhere and what discoveries were being made, what events were generally treated as most memorable, the unique pattern of one’s life through time and space might yield a sort of informational “fingerprint” that no one else would have.  Any personality that were to emerge with this level of recollection of the past would in that respect be unique, and any specific memories of having “lived earlier” would be enriched by this “virtual memory of what went on and what one might have noticed and remembered”.

(Linda)  Certainly, if a person originally lived in the 20th Century, and most of their mindfile information reflected that, they would experience an uncomfortable discontinuity, a feeling that this is not really them, if they were given a hunter-gatherer mindset.

(Fred)  The second Element of these two, “The ‘Qi of I’ is the unique pattern of a being’s energy flows,” is the most abstract of them all.  “Qi” is the idea, most frequently associated with oriental practices of yoga and medicine of those regions, that within one’s body certain patterns of responsiveness to electric charges and biochemical endocrine flows are uniquely individual and are a “sense of one’s physical self” that might be as much a “fingerprint of how one felt physically and emotionally, how one might have reacted in many circumstances”, as any “fingerprint of the time and locations in which one might have lived”, so far as one’s self-perception were concerned.

It could well be that this “Qi of I” could be so closely imputed from one’s DNA as to enable emulating this “sense of physical being” into one’s “continuer”, and thus impart an even higher sense of “having lived before and being the same self as one once was”.  There are other interpretations  that we’ve explored as to the “Qi of I” in earlier podcasts, but this is perhaps closer to the way the Founders of Terasem might have intended this Element, than we’ve suggested in those earlier discussions.  It does point to one more way of a distinctive kind that one’s individuality may be characterized, as different from everyone else’s as if it were ‘sense of life’ “fingerprint”.

(Linda)  Yes, as a physically and mentally active person, I would be very disappointed to find I’d been reanimated as a couch potato!  I would know something was wrong!  I’d be yelling, “This isn’t me!  Look at my Lifepact and CyBeRev videos again, and make the necessary corrections!”

(Linda, again laughing)  That takes us to the next Element, “Each dimension of I may serve as a template for cyber-resurrection of Me of I”.  I’d take that to mean that any one of those may be so individual, so unique a “fingerprint” of who one was as to serve as a valid starting point for reemergence into a social network with no question that it was derived from a particular life, and thus different from everyone else’s.  And, the more we have of all these dimensions available to us if and when we need to be reanimated, the better!  Does that make sense?

(Fred)  It sure does, Linda.  Now the only thing left will be to mention a few things Dr. R. Michael Perry has said in Forever for All that might provide added insights, especially as to his “continuer” concept.

“…The changes in a person that occur over time involve the assimilation of experiences and a learning process. A later person-stage thus will be a more developed version, or continuer, of an earlier stage. Forgetting or erasure of past information can also occur, of course, and strictly speaking does not yield a continuer of all that was present in an earlier stage, though it may still be a continuer of what was important.

          Meanwhile it is important to make clear that the notion of continuer, like that of survival itself, depends purely on psychological connectedness, not on how the person-stage in question came into existence.

          It is the interactive functioning of various components that make up an individual, not some other entity or “gestalt”–the whole is the combined effects of the parts. The parts themselves, however, have no significant intrinsic properties–it is just the way they interact, how they function in the whole individual, that is important.”

Remember, Dr. Perry’s entire book is online under the tab Forever for All, at truthsofterasem.wordpress.com.

(Linda)  Next week, we come to 1.9  “Vitals transcend biological and cybernetic consciousness, including all entities with maturing autonomy, communication and transcendance.”  This is a very far-reaching Expansion of the Truths of Terasem, a more in-depth exploration of the transcendence of biology into cybernetic consciousness.

(Fred)  Right!  In a beautiful way, it starts with showing how biological life is most fundamentally digital in nature and how mindfile integration with emulated biology is a direct extension of this.  It further expands on diversity with unity as they affect individual consciousness, and the open-endedness of what awaits us in an endless future, living in a boundless variety of substrates.

(Linda)  Still have some unanswered questions about mindfiles?  Go to Martine Rothblatt’s blog at mindfiles.blogspot.com.  Start building your Mindfile right away at either CyBeRev.org or LifeNaut.com; it’s free.  And Terasem’s powerful new Android app, described at PersonalityMD.com continues to be downloaded at a high rate, nearing 30,000 participants at this point.

(Fred)  It’s like the CyBeRev system for mindfile building, but more like a game, a two dimensional display on a smart phone results in personality profiles that are truly unique to you, and you also see how you compare to others’ geographically near you, with mindsets like yours.

(Linda)  Don’t forget that these podcasts are available in text form at our site, truthsofterasem.wordpress.com, where you’ll also find tabs relating to storing DNA with LifeNaut, a “city of the future” in Second Life named after the great innovator Paolo Soleri, and a copy of Dr. Perry’s book that we quoted above, Forever for All.

(Fred)  Join us, and our quest for an endless future…

(Linda)  Come with us – into Tomorrow!

Closing music – no fade – full length.

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Posted March 8, 2011 by Truths of Terasem - Podcasts in Uncategorized

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