With apologies to Douglas Hofstadter* and um...others...
I want to offer a little variation on a theme having to do
with a point that came up in the post on Bob Ellis below.
Here's the situation.
Bill wants to live 2 places at once for a couple of months;
one where he works, and one where he relaxes and plays.
Bob has invented a machine that can make a copy of Bill
including his very "essence" i.e. personality, memory,
attitudes, beliefs, etc. a perfect duplicate of Bill in every
physical, mental, emotional and spiritual way.
Bob's done it for a number of others successfully,
and now Bill wants Bob to do it for him.
Okay, so Bill hops in Bob's machine and Bob scans Bill,
and simultaneously quantum fluctuates the space/time
matrix to generate a perfect copy Bill to Puerto Vallarta,
seemingly out of nowhere.
(Ok maybe Paris... no, not from Paris, to Paris not PV.)
Anyway, afterward, when Bob does his usual checks
to see if every thing's cool he discovers something
went seriously haywire.
Seems everything went well in the copying process
except for the physical stuff.
Some of the atoms got switched around while
scanning the original and the result is not pretty.
Instead of Bill having the best of both worlds
for a few months, here's what's happened instead.
Bill 1 (the original) will die in a week of heart faillure.
But not to worry, says Bob kind of sheepishly.
Bill 2 is a perfect duplicate.
So, here's the question. Other than having
to fly back home from Mexico (or France) early,
attend his own funeral, and (begrudgingly)
going back to work, is being Bill #2 still ok?
And more to the point.
Is Bill #2 still Bill?
Douglas Hofstader is best known for his book
Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid.
This thought experiment is loosley based
on a passage from I am a Strange Loop,
a sequel to the first book, wherein Hofstader
discusses the question, "what exactly do we
mean when we say 'I' or 'me'?"