I really do not understand why this is so hard to grog for most people. I highly suspect it is because deep down most people cling to metaphysical ideas about human beings, perhaps without realizing it themselves.
Life is information. Information can be copied. The copied information is the same as the original in every meaningful meaning of the word 'the same'. If I copy a file on my harddrive the physical electrons which make up the file may be different, but it's still the same file. The physical difference is not meaningful, because information is not physical, it's information. It's stored physically, yes, but information itself is not a physical thing.
Noone has responded to my AI example. So I'll ask again. If I have a sapient AI, and I copy them to another computer and then destroy the original computer, have I murdered the AI? I don't think anyone would say that. Even if I let the AI gather dust on a dvd for a few weeks before rebooting them I haven't murdered them. You could claim I've grossly violated their rights as a sapient being by doing that (depending on what I had promised them I'd do), but murder it is not. And noone would build elaborate philosophical constructs to explain that really the original AI is gone now, it's consciousness lost, and the copy running on the new computer is just a clone that isn't the real thing. Nor does it matter if I do this while the PC is switched off or on, or even with the AI running in the background but getting 0 clockcycles so that it's essentionally paused.
But humans are exactly the same. We're biological, and rather more complex than a computer, and our information is stored much more chaotically, but we're still essentionally just information. So we can be copied. Of course another difference is that humans can't be paused. But if you're transporter is fast enough that is not a problem. If the process of "copying + deletion of original" takes just a microsecond then in the first case scenario you've destroyed a microsecond worth of experiences. I can totally live with that. Transmitting the data and reassembling you might take longer, but that doesn't matter, that just means I temporarily did not exist physically. You could in theory upload me to a harddrive and keep my lying around of a year before reassemling me. It still wouldn't affect who I am (I would of course be highly upset if something like that happened to me, because I'd miss out on all those experiences I could have had in that year. But that's another matter entirely. It's not murder).
Dauric wrote:Another thought: You create a completely perfect copy of someone. Completely identical in every way. Is it morally justifiable to kill the first one because "Meh, we've got a spare right here."
Well it would be a rather egregrious violation of personal autonomy if done without permission of the person, but yeah it's not murder. Of course you'd have to do this within microseconds of creating the copy, or find a way to freeze them in time somehow, or otherwise their experiences will have diverged so much that they are no longer the same.
After all the information is preserved. Or rather because they're so identical do they have equal value as human beings? Or because they're identical do they have half the value of either human being?
You're looking at this wrong. They are one human being. Not two. It doesn't matter how many copies there are, it's still only one human being. They will have the value of one human being.
Yet another thought: The copy-kill transporter is just shuffling data, so we save the data to a hard drive and pump out a few dozen of you. Can I murder you and eleven of your clones.. or hell murder all of your clones the information is preserved on hard drive. You're not killed in any meaningful way... I find this attitude disturbing.
Like above, it's a rather egregrious violation of personal autonomy, but murder it is not.
Even in the most perfect copy-kill transporter the cloned consciousness picks right up where the previous consciousness left off true, and certainly the clone is in every respect to the outside world, and even to itself the original person, but... is it the same consciousness as the original?
Yes. Yes it is. Unless you postulate that a person has metaphysical properties such as a 'soul'. Then of course all bets are off.