Arguments against Clone Immortality

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Silent
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Arguments against Clone Immortality

Postby Silent » Sun Sep 30, 2018 1:37 pm

This dialog, written by Stanislaw Lem, is essentially an argument against the possibility of "clone immortality" (the idea that you can essentially 'live forever' by cloning yourself and your memories). Clone immortality tends to be used in games like PARANOIA and Eclipse Phase, so it's interesting to see logical arguments examining the potential pitfalls of the system (though the official PARANOIA answer to 'clone immortality' is "Don't think about it too hard; it's only really there as a gameplay mechanic").

I do disagree with Mr. Lem though that "clone immortality" is impossible (though it requires me to "bite the bullet" and accept some bizarre conclusions). One of the arguments that Lem presented for clone immortality is as follows...
HYLAS: ... Well, I am drawing an equilateral triangle. If I draw a second one, I can say that both have "the same" structural property of being equilateral. I can draw many such triangles, but from a structural point of view they are actually just one single triangle, repeated many times. In the same way I can say that all Hylasses which have been created by the machine are actually "the same" human, being simply repeated x times. What do you think about that?
PHILONOUS: You gave a very clear presentation of the matter. Do you permit me to create a copy right now already, while you are still alive?
HYLAS: Why that?
PHILONOUS: Well, since the copy is no different person, but simply "the same", and since, as you said yourself, from a subjective point of view (and this is the one that it's all about) it is "the same" human being as yourself, it follows that you - when the tyrant has killed you, but the copy stays alive - will be alive, since a person will continue to exist which is "the same" Hylas as you. Or do you take a different view?
For me to claim that clone immortality is possible, then I should believe that two clones of a person, if they both exist at the same time, are both the same person. I'm willing to accept that, so long as both clones' memories are "in sync" with one another, so they both experience and believe in exactly the same things at exactly the same time. It is a bizarre conclusion though, and it is one that Hylas rejected out-of-hand as being absurd.

As a side-note, Mr. Lem also wrote Memoirs Found In A Bathtub, a book that (I believe) was recommended in Paranoia XP as a source material for the STRAIGHT playing style.
tbug
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Re: Arguments against Clone Immortality

Postby tbug » Wed Oct 03, 2018 5:47 pm

I think that Friend Computer is with Lem, since the new clone is no longer considered guilty of any treason committed by the previous clone. Or am I missing your point?
Silent
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Re: Arguments against Clone Immortality

Postby Silent » Wed Oct 10, 2018 3:03 am

I assumed the new clone is no longer considered guilty of a treason committed by the previous clone, if the previous clone was already punished for that treason (since the new clone would remember the punishment and thus will be deterred from future treason). For example, this is how the scenario normally goes with traitors:

- Adam-R-LON-1 committed treason and got caught.
- Adam-R-LON-1 is punished for his treason by being executed.
- Adam-R-LON-2 get decanted. He is now treason-free.

Suppose if the following happens:

- Adam-R-LON-1 committed treason.
- Adam-R-LON-1 dies by falling into a food vat.
- Adam-R-LON-2 gets decanted.
- A fellow troubleshooter finds evidence that Adam-R-LON-1 committed treason.

Should Adam-R-LON-2 get terminated for the crime of his clone brother? If he does, then it does suggest that The Computer does believe in clone immortality. If he doesn't, then it opens up a loophole that traitors can use to get away with treasonous deeds (by self-terminating themselves periodically to secure a "clean" slate for their next clone brother).
locarno24
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Re: Arguments against Clone Immortality

Postby locarno24 » Wed Oct 10, 2018 8:50 am

tbug wrote:
Wed Oct 03, 2018 5:47 pm
I think that Friend Computer is with Lem, since the new clone is no longer considered guilty of any treason committed by the previous clone. Or am I missing your point?
This is always a point of interesting legal quandary - whether you are 'the same' individual as your N-1 clone or a different one who just looks very similar is highly variable depending on the specific question, day, your recent behaviour, Friend Computer's mood and what result the magic-8-ball-o-tron attached to the local comp-node came up with.

~ You are no longer considered guilty of treason; you get executed once and the slate is wiped clean
~ A new clone is retained at your previous security clearance (depending on cause of death)
~ Secret societies consider you to still be a member
~ You still have to defend the actions of your previous clone at debriefing
Should Adam-R-LON-2 get terminated for the crime of his clone brother? If he does, then it does suggest that The Computer does believe in clone immortality. If he doesn't, then it opens up a loophole that traitors can use to get away with treasonous deeds (by self-terminating themselves periodically to secure a "clean" slate for their next clone brother).
Ultimately, this assumes the Computer and/or Alpha Complex's legal system is consistent and stable. As a GM, I would allow players to make use of clever loopholes...once. Probably. Maybe twice....or maybe not. As long as it's a good, creative idea, it should stand a chance of working, but if you're going "that's easy! I'll do it, too!" then the inexorable squeaky hammer of justice will descend....
Understand that I'm not advocating violence.
I'm just saying that it's highly effective and I strongly recommend using it.
tbug
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Re: Arguments against Clone Immortality

Postby tbug » Mon Oct 15, 2018 2:57 am

Obviously any GM can do anything at all, but in the rules as written it seems pretty clear: "It is important to notice that the new clone body is a legally distinct entity from the previous, dead clone, and that aberrations in the genetic template caused by terrorist intervention (including but not limited to, mutant abilities, membership of secret societies, treasonous intent or tumours and lesions relating to the Gehenna Incident which did not happen) will not be present in the new body, and the Troubleshooter should not be punished for the crimes of their genetically inferior predecessor." (Player's Handbook p. 48)
locarno24
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Re: Arguments against Clone Immortality

Postby locarno24 » Mon Oct 15, 2018 9:50 am

Which is, as I say, fine, but falls over immediately on the argument that the clone retains the superior security clearance of a predecessor, which makes no sense if they're a legally distinct individual with no reason to assume their trustworthiness.
Understand that I'm not advocating violence.
I'm just saying that it's highly effective and I strongly recommend using it.
tbug
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Re: Arguments against Clone Immortality

Postby tbug » Wed Nov 21, 2018 5:45 pm

I absolutely agree that the Computer's decision makes no sense. I'll go further and say that everything that you've posted in this thread seems very logical to me.

My point is that the Computer's perspective on this is that each clone is a legally-distinct person who, for whatever nonsensical reason, inherits the security clearance and such of the previous clone.

I'm still intrigued by your hive-mind clones being the same person. Your point makes sense to me, and in a game I'd just have the player controlling two bodies simultaneously. So in practice in the game I guess I believe in clone immortality. I just think that the Computer doesn't (even though this makes no sense).
Silent
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Re: Arguments against Clone Immortality

Postby Silent » Thu Nov 22, 2018 12:19 pm

I could see some GMs preferring to treating each clone unique so that if players unmask Adam-R-LON-3 as being a Matter Eater who is member of the Romantics, then they don't treat Adam-R-LON-4 as being a Matter Eater who is a member of the Romantics (and so don't get to terminate Adam-R-LON-4 to Adam-R-LON-∞).

But there's probably an easier, and less crazy way of dealing with this scenario than assuming The Computer's illogic and stupidity (which sometimes is funny, but when it stretches the suspension of disbelief...well...):

- If you are caught as a unregistered mutant, after being punished, you are forced to register the mutant power. If playing with a complex that doesn't tolerate registration, then after you gets terminated, automated genetic scanners kick in to change your genes. It will remove your mutant power, but may introduce a new mutant power instead.
- If you are caught as a member of a secret society, you are sent to Internal Security where you rat our your superiors. After the harsh interrogation, your secret society members will kick you out for "betraying" them. You may be left with no secret society to speak of, or you could probably be "recruited" by one of the IntSec interrogators into a new secret society.

Changes in secret society and mutant power status only occur when the player is unmasked.

If a GM is sufficiently lazy, a mutant power/secret society might not even change at all - the automatic scanner fail to work, or the Internal Security cell has already been infiltrated by members of your secret society (who stage your confession to bring off the heat and to purge inconvenient enemies). But the other players won't know that.

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