48

You use centralized version control The problem is akin to copying computer programs around - you must dissociate the physical substrate from the program. It is complicated by the fact that the program modifies itself, i.e. consciousness could be thought of as an executable database of some sort. However, we have lots of tools available to deal with this. ...


45

Could a culture that considers theft something neutral, even laudable if done in a particularly impressive manner, sustain itself? Sure. There were a number of Native American tribes in the plains area that made stealing a rite of passage. This included kidnapping their wives from other tribes, which helped avoid inbreeding. Stealing was considered both ...


27

You don't In the way you describe, any way of making original cease to function is killing it, so you simply can't do. There are few ways to go around it. StarTrek way — because original is disassembled when you're beamed up, and the mass is somehow transported, too, it was left to philosophers to tell if you are still you or just a copy. Safehold way — ...


23

Yes. A culture where the wish for a specific type of social approval surpasses people's desire for material possessions. The core reason why our current day societies favor "bullies" and not kind people is that what most people desire above (almost; we'll get to that soon) all else is money. Money is power. Power lets you make even more money. And so the ...


17

Others have mentioned why stealing is wrong, and I will let their answers stand for that. As to your other question: Could a culture that considers theft something neutral, even laudable if done in a particularly impressive manner, sustain itself? The answer is yes, but with restrictions. To have a society, things like food and water, should be ...


16

Who can tell? Once you've made the copy it opens its eyes and truly believes it's the original. Everyone around them believes and accepts them to be the original, how can you say it's a copy and not the original, to all intents and purposes it is. The end of the story could have been taken from the other point of view, that of the copy, opening its ...


16

Generally speaking, an analog creature such as ourself is typically resilient to such crises. However, if a species were to build their entire existence upon some axiom, only to find out that it is false, it may find that it is incapable of recovering. The species as a whole does not need to be intelligent, but it needs to be completely dependent on ...


15

As civilization grows, people collect tools and other property. During productive periods they save a surplus to current needs to last the next day, over the winter, for their old age. A culture where stealing is allowed requires people to be eternally vigilant to protect their surplus. The more they have, the less they can produce and the more time they ...


15

As Separatix alluded to, this is an age old question which has not had an answer which satisfies everyone for thousands of years. You won't solve it in a few minutes. The name I have most often seen associated with this problem is the Ship of Theseus. It was reported by Plutarch in his writings, before 150AD. Even then, it was already attributed to "...


14

I cannot resist quoting The Blue Cross by G K Chesterton. Published in 1910, this was the first of the Father Brown detective stories: 'Reason and justice grip the remotest and the loneliest star. Look at those stars. Don't they look as if they were single diamonds and sapphires? Well, you can imagine any mad botany or geology you please. Think of ...


13

I think that it is possible for a civilization to die because of an existential crisis, lato sensu; I think that it has actually happened several times. it may even be the general rule. There is a well-known if not universally well-regarded point of view that civilizations have a certain resemblance to living things, in that they show a period of exuberant ...


12

Assuming that there are no mistakes or errors (like the division by 0 in the proof that 1=2) A whole slew of mathematicians would examine his working, work out exactly which axioms he was using and then describe in excruciating detail why his initial assumptions are wrong in the real world. A good example of a mathematical paradox arises in set mathematics,...


11

The question is very broad (as most ethical considerations tend to be) but here's a quick try at general theory (akin to 'murder is bad, charities are good' in it's scope) Temporal ethics would almost certainly evolve, and as with most incredibly powerful things that are hugely unpredictable and have the capacity to blow-back horrendously in the face of ...


11

Gradually Replacing the Brain Similar to Werrf's suggestion I'd go the gradual transfer rout, but I don't know what a "transfer of conscious processes" implies and I'm not sure that a "half conscious" brain would work. This is a more “materialist” approach. Digital immortality: I would suggest gradually disassembling and at the same time reassembling the ...


11

Yeah, good question. What you're asking is essentially, "How could we fundamentally change human nature?" Since the beginning of recorded history, people have wanted basically the same things: basic needs like food and drink and protection from the weather, sex, love, amusement, prestige, power. In almost every society in recorded history money is a way to ...


11

As I understand it, your question is whether the absence of certain key people in our history, would lead to modern day difficulties in identifying and explaining currently known scientific phenomena. The answer is that it wouldn't, for two reasons. First: Generally speaking, once enough knowledge becomes available for a discovery to be made, waiting ...


10

To answer this, you need to see that there exists “randomness” that is not due to the butterfly effect, and then how that phenomenon will be affected by time travel. chaos and determinism Just because the random process is “complex” doesn’t mean it becomes nondeterministic. The proper phenomenon here is Chaos, and this is what leads to the so-called “...


10

Please pardon the length, but this topic is built upon a complex subject. Most people naturally desire social approval and a feeling of contributing to the world - altruistic behavior does not require a religious motivation, so explicitly secular societies do not need special external reasons for people to behave in socially beneficial ways. Many people in ...


9

It has happened before Well, the $\sqrt{-4}$ length hasn't happened before. But "things that were deemed impossible mathematically" has. The first example of this that comes to mind is Russell's paradox (you may have heard about its derivation: the Barber paradox). It showed the base axioms of Cantor's naive set theory where unsound. The only thing to do ...


9

You've answered your own question. You've defined life as follows: Life is a thing that can adapt to its environment, grow and replicate. Thus, we have three criteria: Does it adapt to its environment? Does it grow? Does it replicate? And thus anything which fulfills that criteria is alive. But then you ask when a machine can be considered biologically ...


8

Make public service an essential part of being rich and famous Ancient Greek city-states, and even the Roman Empire (at least until somewhere in the late 2nd or early 3rd century) had very little in the way of taxes, essentially only sales tax (only on certain expensive goods such as slaves), customs dues, and a ridiculously low land tax (normally 1%, ...


8

Anyone with experience of the past and the future will intuitively understand the concept of being 'from the future.' The answer will be yes. We experience and understand 'yesterday, today, tomorrow.' We sometimes dream about being in another place or time. We experience deja-vu. The idea of psychic ability, clairvoyance, and so on, is deeply attractive to ...


8

Your logic is incorrect, because our universe is not a formal system of logic, and so the Incompleteness Theorem does not apply to it. Furthermore, the Incompleteness Theorem requires an infinite domain, but the observable universe is finite, so there are only a finite number of statements you can make about it. A system which admits only a finite number of ...


7

The best way to distort a logical, rational argument in such a way that it's difficult to refute is to change axioms, or to use invalid axioms. For example, the following statement is entirely logical: Pigs are birds. Birds can fly. Therefore, pigs can fly. So the logic is sound - if pigs are birds, and birds can fly, then of course pigs can fly. The ...


7

First off, I would suggest watching the anime "Stein's Gate" as it deals with a very similar type of time travel. Ethics I would expect... Time Travellers' society That said, most realities would likely only have a few time travellers as each time travel would reduce a universe's time travellers by one. (I suppose a time traveller's society could be "...


7

Check out the Old Man's War universe by John Scalzi. It involves, among other things, the transfer of consciousness between bodies. Without getting too spoileriffic, in this universe consciousness cannot be effectively stored, only transferred. New bodies are carefully prepared, with matching genetics and underlying brain structure, memories, psychology and ...


7

Amobarbital Also known as Sodium Amytal or more commonly called truth serum. Amobarbital has some interesting side effects with how it messes with the mind, which could prove useful. While under the effects of Amobarbital the higher level cognitive abilities of the brain are impaired. This can result in brain not being capable of realizing that it has ...


7

They all deal with some form of desire and the need to fill some gaping emptiness in one's life. However the dividing point is based on what you want to do with the thing you desire once you have it. Greed You want something, and then you want to keep it. Forever. Greed deals with hoarding simply to have things and many of them. Gluttony You want ...


7

Two of the same thing can't occupy the same place and time because they would annihilate each other. Two of anything can't occupy the same place and time. My teeth moving into the space of this delicious chicken move the chicken molecules aside. If you propose Guy A and Guy B can't exist in the same universe, or that Guy A and Guy B will blow up if ...


6

It's kind of hard to say for sure, but I think AlexP's comment is on the right track: EM is still possible, but chemistry probably would have bumped into problems first. To elaborate, Maxwell's equations, which govern electromagnetism, are very much compatible with the idea that matter is a continuum. In fact, they're not just compatible, they're ...


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