Your transhuman copy is of questionable value to your meat self.

I feel safe say­ing that nearly ev­ery­one read­ing this will agree that, given suffi­cient tech­nol­ogy, a perfect replica or simu­la­tion could be made of the struc­ture and func­tion of a hu­man brain, pro­duc­ing an ex­act copy of an in­di­vi­d­ual mind in­clud­ing a con­scious­ness. Upon com­ing into ex­is­tence, this con­scious­ness will have a sep­a­rate but baseline-iden­ti­cal sub­jec­tive ex­pe­rience to the con­scious­ness from which it was copied, as it was at the mo­ment of copy­ing. The origi­nal con­scious­ness will con­tinue its own ex­is­tence/​ sub­jec­tive ex­pe­rience. If the brain con­tain­ing the origi­nal con­scious­ness is de­stroyed, the con­scious­ness within ceases to be. The ex­is­tence or non- of a copy is ir­rele­vant to this fact.

With this in mind, I fail to see the at­trac­tion of the many tran­shu­man op­tions for ex­tra-meat ex­is­tence, and I see no mean­ingful im­mor­tal­ity therein, if that’s what you came for.

Con­scious­ness is no­to­ri­ously difficult to define and an­a­lyze and I am far from an ex­pert in it’s study. I define it as an aware­ness: the sense or­gan which per­ceives the ac­tivity of the mind. It is not thought. It is not mem­ory or emo­tion. It is the thing that ex­pe­riences or senses these things. Me­mories will be gained and lost, thoughts and emo­tions come and go, the sense of self re­mains even as the self changes. There ex­ists a sys­tem of anatom­i­cal struc­tures in your brain which, by means of elec­tro­chem­i­cal ac­tivity, pro­duces the ex­pe­rience of con­scious­ness. If a brain in­jury wiped out ma­jor cog­ni­tive func­tions but left those struc­tures in­volved in the sense of con­scious­ness un­harmed, you would, I be­lieve, have the same cen­tral aware­ness of Self as Self, de­spite per­haps lack­ing all lan­guage or even the abil­ity to form thoughts or un­der­stand to world around you. Con­scious­ness, this aware­ness, is, I be­lieve, the most ac­cu­rate defi­ni­tion of Self, Me, You. I re­al­ize this sort of ter­minol­ogy has the po­ten­tial to sound like mys­ti­cal woo. I be­lieve this is due to the twin effects of the in­her­ent difficulty in defin­ing and dis­cussing con­scious­ness, and of our so­cial­iza­tion wherein these sorts of dis­cus­sions are more of­ten than not heard from Bud­dhists or Sufis, whose philo­soph­i­cal tra­di­tions have looked into the mat­ter with greater rigor for a longer time than Western philos­o­phy, and Hip­pies and Drug­gies who in­tro­duced these tra­di­tions to our pop­u­lar cul­ture. I am not speak­ing of a mag­i­cal soul. I am speak­ing of a cen­tral fea­ture of the hu­man ex­pe­rience which is a product of the anatomy and phys­iol­ogy of the brain.

Con­sider the cry­onic head-freeze. Ideally, the scanned dead brain, cloned, re­made and restarted (or what­ever) will be ca­pa­ble of gen­er­at­ing a perfectly func­tional con­scious­ness, and it will feel as if it is the same con­scious­ness which ob­serves the mind which is, for in­stance, read­ing these words; but it will not be. The con­scious­ness which is ex­pe­rienc­ing aware­ness of the mind which is read­ing these words will no longer ex­ist. To dis­agree with this state­ment is to say that a scanned liv­ing brain, cloned, re­made and started will con­tain the ex­act same con­scious­ness, not similar, the ex­act same thing it­self, that si­mul­ta­neously ex­ists in the still-liv­ing origi­nal. If con­scious­ness has an anatom­i­cal lo­ca­tion, and there­fore is tied to mat­ter, then it would fol­low that this mat­ter here is the ex­act mat­ter as that sep­a­rate mat­ter there. This is an ab­surd propo­si­tion. If con­scious­ness does not have an anatom­i­cal /​ phys­i­cal lo­ca­tion then it is the stuff of magic and woo.

*Aside: I be­lieve that con­scious­ness, mind, thought, and mem­ory are prod­ucts not only of anatomy but of phys­iol­ogy, that is to say the on­go­ing elec­tro­chem­i­cal state of the brain, the con­stant flux of charge in and across neu­rons. In perfect cry­onic stor­age, the anatomy (hard­ware) might be main­tained, but I doubt the phys­iol­ogy (soft­ware), in the form of ex­act mo­ment-in-time mem­brane elec­tri­cal po­ten­tials and in­tra-and ex­tra-cel­lu­lar ion con­cen­tra­tions for ev­ery neu­ron, will be. There­fore I hold no faith in its util­ity, in ad­di­tion to my in­differ­ence to the ex­is­tence of a me-like be­ing in the fu­ture.

Con­sider the Back-Up. Be­fore lava raft­ing on your or­bital, you have your brain scanned by your lo­cal AI so that a copy of your mind at that mo­ment is saved. In your fiery death in an un­fore­seen ac­ci­dent, will the mind ob­served by the con­scious­ness on the raft ex­pe­rience any­thing differ­ently than if it were not backed up? I doubt I would feel much con­so­la­tion, other than know­ing my loved ones were be­ing cared for. Not un­like a life in­surance policy: not for one’s own benefit. I image the ex­pe­rience would be one of com­ing to the con­clu­sion of a cruel joke at one’s own ex­pense. Death in the shadow of a promise of im­mor­tal­ity. In any event, the con­scious­ness that left the brain scan­ner and got on the raft is de­stroyed when the brain is de­stroyed, it benefits not at all from the re­boot.

Con­sider the Upload. You plug in for a brain scan, a digi­tal-world copy of your con­scious­ness is made, and then you are still just you. You know there is a digi­tal copy of you, that feels as if it is you, feels ex­actly as you would feel were it you who had trav­el­led to the digi­tal-world, and it is hav­ing a won­der­ful time, but there you still are. You are still just you in your meat brain. The al­ter­na­tive, of course, is that your brain is de­stroyed in the scan in which case you are dead and some­thing that feels as if it is you is hav­ing a won­der­ful time. It would be a mercy kil­ling.

If the con­scious­ness that is me is perfectly an­a­lyzed and a copy cre­ated, in any medium, that pro­cess is ex­ter­nal to the con­scious­ness that is me. The con­scious­ness that is me, that is you read­ing this, will have no ex­pe­rience of be­ing that copy, al­though that copy will have a perfect mem­ory of hav­ing been the con­scious­ness that is you read­ing this. Per­son­ally, I don’t know that I care about that copy. I sup­pose he could be my ally in life. He could work to achieve any al­tru­is­tic goals I think I have, per­haps bet­ter than I think that you could. He might want to fuck my wife, though. And might be jeal­ous of the time she spends with me rather than him, and he’d prob­a­bly feel en­ti­tled to all my stuff, as would I be vice versa. The Dop­pel­ganger and the Changeling have never been con­sid­ered friendly beasts.

I have no firm idea where lines can be drawn on this. Cer­tainly con­scious­ness can be said to be an in­ter­mit­tent phe­nomenon which the mind pieces to­gether into the illu­sion of con­ti­nu­ity. I do not fear go­ing to sleep at night, de­spite the “loss of con­scious­ness” as­so­ci­ated. If I were to wake up to­mor­row and Omega as­sures me that I am a freshly made copy of the origi­nal, it wouldn’t trou­ble me as to my sense of self, only to the set of prob­lems as­so­ci­ated with liv­ing in a world with a copy of my­self. I wouldn’t mourn a dead origi­nal me any more than I’d care about a copy of me liv­ing on af­ter I’m dead, I don’t imag­ine.

Would a slow cell by cell, or thought by thought /​ byte by byte, trans­fer of my mind to an­other medium: one at a time ev­ery new neu­ral ac­tion po­ten­tial is re­ceived by a par­allel pro­cess­ing medium which takes over? I want to say the re­sult­ing trans­fer would be the same con­scious­ness as is typ­ing this but then what if the same slow pro­cess were done to make a copy and not a trans­fer? Once a con­scious­ness is vir­tual, is ev­ery trans­fer from one medium or lo­ca­tion to an­other not es­sen­tially a copy and there­fore rep­re­sent­ing a death of the origi­nat­ing ver­sion?

It al­most makes a ma­te­ri­al­ist ar­gu­ment (self is tied to mat­ter) seem like a spiritu­al­ist one (meat con­scious­ness is soul is tied to hu­man body at birth) which, of course, is weird place to be in­tel­lec­tu­ally.

I am not ad­dress­ing the util­ity or ethics or in­evita­bil­ity of the pro­jec­tion of the self-like-copy into some tran­shu­man state of be­ing, but I don’t see any way around the con­clu­sion that that the con­scious­ness that is so im­mor­tal­ized will not be the con­scious­ness that is writ­ing these words, al­though it would feel ex­actly as if it were. I don’t think I care about that guy. And I see no rea­son for him to be cre­ated. And if he were cre­ated, I, in my meat brain’s death bed, would gain no so­lace from know­ing he, a be­ing which started out it’s ex­is­tence ex­actly like me, will live on.

EDIT: Lots of great re­sponses, thank you all and keep them com­ing. I want to bring up some of my re­sponses so far to bet­ter define what I am talk­ing about when I talk about con­scious­ness.

I define con­scious­ness as a pas­sively aware thing, to­tally in­de­pen­dent of mem­ory, thoughts, feel­ings, and un­con­scious hard­wired or con­di­tioned re­sponses. It is the hard-to-get-at thing in­side the mind which is aware of the ac­tivity of the mind with­out it­self think­ing, feel­ing, re­mem­ber­ing, or re­spond­ing. The de­mented, the deliri­ous, the brain dam­aged all have (un­less those brain struc­tures perform­ing the func­tion of con­scious­ness are dam­aged, which is not a given) the same con­scious­ness, the same Self, the same I and You, as I define it, as they did when their brains were in­tact. Dream Self is the same Self as Wak­ing Self to my think­ing. I as­sume con­scious­ness arises at some point in in­fancy. From that mo­ment on it is Self, to my think­ing.

If I lose ev­ery mem­ory slowly and my per­son­al­ity changes be­cause of this and I die se­nile in a hos­pi­tal bed, I be­lieve that it will be the same con­scious­ness ex­pe­rienc­ing those events as is ex­pe­rienc­ing me writ­ing these words. That is why many peo­ple choose suicide at some point on the path to de­men­tia.

I rec­og­nize that not ev­ery­one read­ing this will agree that such a thing ex­ists or has the pri­macy of ex­is­ten­tial value that I as­cribe to it.

And an ad­den­dum:
So­phie Pas­cal’s Choice (hop­ing it hasn’t already been coined): Would any re­ward given to the sur­viv­ing copy in­duce you to step onto David Bowie Tesla’s Pres­tige Du­pli­ca­tion Ma­chine, know­ing that your meat body and brain will be the one which falls into the drown­ing pool while an iden­ti­cal copy of you ma­te­ri­al­izes 100m away, be­liev­ing it­self to be the same meat that walked into the ma­chine and ready to ac­cept the re­ward?