On Consciousness: Clones at the Movies

A thought experiment…

Imagine a really amazing movie theater complex.  It has the latest flicks, is brightly lit, has amazing sound, and uses real coconut oil mixed in with the popcorn butter.  It’s a multiplex, so it shows the same film in several theaters at the same time, if the film is popular enough.  The theater complex sits in a swank downtown shopping district.

Unlike other theaters (even the Arclight!), it also has a cloning option.  Anyone who walks in the door can be cloned, with extreme precision.  If you walk in, you can optionally have an exact replica created, on the spot, who has your genes, but also your memories, personality, and clothing.

This being a civilized theater, you are not permitted to harm your clone in any way.

One evening, you and a friend decide to meet up at the shopping district.  When you chat in the parking lot, your friend reveals he isn’t thrilled with the movie choices, and decides to do some shopping at the stores a short walk away from the theater.  You agree to meet up for dinner at the nearby restaurant after the movie you want to see is over.

So, you amble into the theater, buy your tickets and snacks, and sit down to watch The Walking Bed.

Oh, and you have yourself cloned.

The theater is clever and never has the two identical people sit in the same place (it could lead to talking during the film).  The ticket-holder and the holder’s clone will watch the same movie, but on different screens.  So, your clone comes into existence in the auditorium next to yours.

All goes well, until midway through your movie, the projector stops completely.  The screen goes dark.  Even worse, you discover that the doors are locked.  You cannot get out.

Your clone, however, has no such problems.  Instead, Clone You enjoys the movie and post-credits sequence, walks out of the theater and joins up with your friend for dinner.

Question: does your friend have any way to recognize that Clone You is not you?

Would anyone say that Clone You is you?  Finally, is Clone You you?

To explore the ideas and your response to them a bit more, but in a different way, take the 3-question Staying Alive quiz.

An analysis follows in the post-after-next…

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