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Cell Division, Memory Retention, & Life Span

Don Ashley dashley at TENET.EDU
Thu Feb 23 23:28:57 EST 1995

It's still a little fuzzy about how long term memory is retained after 
total cellular replacement in humans.  

When breakthrough in life extension research provides for 200+ years, 
will memory still exist?  What will happen to the 20th century 'self' if 
memory fades by the 22nd century?

I'm so much different now than before, its hard to relate to 'me' then.  
In 200 years, my 'self' will really be up for grabs.  Not that anyone 
knows, but a constructive theory would be welcomed.

On Thu, 23 Feb 1995, Peter Merel wrote:

> >On Fri, 17 Feb 1995, Patrick O'Neil wrote:
> >> No, it would NOT be you.  It would be a machine programed to simulate 
> >> you.  You would be dead and a poor "copy" of you would be used to animate 
> >> a machine.  You are nontransferable.  You cannot be conscious in your 
> >> body one moment, imprint a copy of your personality, etc, on an inanimate 
> >> matrix, and then, viola, be conscious as YOURSELF in a machine.  You ARE 
> >> inseperable from your biochemistry and evolution.  You are NOT a movable 
> >> entity or program that only coincidently presently occupies your 
> >> biological body...you ARE your body.
> Firstly, if you have the biochemistry background that you claim, you
> will be aware that ordinary human metabolism replaces _every_ molecule in your
> body on a regular basis - about once every seven years was the last figure
> I heard.
> Surely you're not suggesting that humans die every seven years? So then
> you must accept that it is not the substance of your body that counts
> as your identity, but its pattern. If this pattern can be preserved by
> a transformation, your identity can be preserved too.
> Secondly, all living creatures grow and change. We are unique in that
> we are acheiving the ability to direct those changes with our
> intellect. If we choose to replace some of our components - and you
> must admit, as a biochemist, that our components are only simple
> inanimate molecular tools - with components that work better, last
> longer, and allow us to extend our capabilities, this is only a process
> of directed growth, with no loss of information, integrity, memory or
> personality required.
> Thirdly, it is highly presumptious of you to dictate your personal
> philosophy about what constitutes identity to others. Identity is an
> issue at the core of most philosophical and religious thought, and
> there are a great many available interpretations of the relationships
> between nature, the world and the self. I think that you might benefit
> strongly from reading a little more broadly; maybe start with Lao Tse,
> a little Sartre, a little Rand and maybe some psych. - George Kelly
> maybe. Maybe a little Popper too. Then think about whether what you're
> saying is based upon empirical evidence, or whether it is based upon
> your own faith and assumptions; if it is only the latter, then it isn't
> worth much to engineers and scientists.
> -- 
> Internet:pete at extro.su.oz.au           |         Accept Everything.            |
> http://www.usyd.edu.au/~pete           |         Reject Nothing.               |

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