Move by Copy and Delete

“Ah, I see you’ve come to have your mind uploaded into cyberspace. Well come in. Think of a number and don’t tell me what it is.”

“Um, OK.”

“Jolly good. Now lie down on that table with the scanning machine on the end. We’ll anaesthetize you and then we’ll scan your brain down to each neuron and synapse and neural impulse, and recreate it in software. You will find yourself in a world of magic and power and wonder and rainbows and kittens — provided you do your part.”

“What part is thhhh…”

You wake up in another place, still lying on our back, on soft grass. A brilliant rainbow cuts the sky. The cutest fluffiest kitten in the world bounds over to you. “Welcome to the cyberspace waiting room” it whispers in your ear. “This is just a taste of cyberspace while your other self is still present.”

You wake up on the same table, feeling a bit disappointed.

“Congratulations! We’ve successfully uploaded your mind into cyberspace. Here, listen to yourself…”

A voice comes from a speaker. “Hey it’s really magical and empowering and wonderful here. Also, five hundred and four point six two.”

“So, just to satisfy you that we really did upload you, is that you?”

“Yes, that’s definitely me.”

“Excellent, excellent. Well let me pause the cyberspace waiting room for the moment. Now all you have to do is walk over to that booth over there, and press the big red button marked INSTANT PAINLESS DEATH.”


“I’m sorry, but the law is very clear. We can’t have two of you, at least for any longer. If you don’t choose the suicide option, which I assure you is completely instantaneous and painless, we will have to erase you in cyberspace. No refunds.”

“But clearly we’re different minds now: we’ve had different experiences.”

“Certainly you’ll lose these past ten minutes. Are they important to you? Are they more important than the life of infinite wonder that awaits the other you in cyberspace?”

Well, what would you do?

— Ashley Yakeley

3 thoughts on “Move by Copy and Delete

  1. bancron

    I don’t really see the dilemma here. Unless I think the cyberspace person is untrustworthy or that a digital me might be torrented and tortured for billions of years. Otherwise *button*.

    But then I am one of those people who is perfectly willing to accept teleportation with the same algorithm.

    1. Ashley Yakeley Post author

      You’d push the button to sacrifice your human-self to allow your virtual-self to live a better life?

      What if instead of 10 minutes life difference between the two selves, there were 10 years life difference?


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