Continuity Identity Theory
Continuity identity theory
Image from Steve Bowers

The theory that "I" am the same person as various future and past selves with whom I am physically and temporally continuous. Continuity Identity theory supposes that consciousness is a continuous process, with some exception for gradual methods uploading and copying are considered to create new (if identical) individuals (see also Pattern Identity theory).

Followers of Continuity Identity theory believe that a human consciousness cannot be directly copied, and thus cannot be transmitted to a distant location for re-embodiment through engeneration. Any attempt to non-destructively upload a human consciousness only produces an entirely new individual which is only a copy of the original consciousness, and no actual transfer of consciousness occurs.

In the case of destructive uploading, adherents of Continuity Identity theory consider the destructive scan is in fact an act of murder/suicide. A major exception to this being that most adherents of continuity identity are prepared to accept gradual uploading as a true transfer of consciousness, since the process occurs within a single individual over time (echoing natural substrate recycling). However disagreements persist with regards to "how gradual is gradual?" Various philosophical and neuroscientific schools propose competing theories for this. Others reject gradual uploading entirely, so called "Substrate Theorists" reject any notion of mind/body dualism and claim that processing substrate is intimately linked to mind identity.

Regardless any subsequent copying of an individual uploaded by gradual methods is considered to be the creation of a new individual, and therefore does not involve a transfer of consciousness.
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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg, amended by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 24 September 2001.

Updated Feb 2016 by Ryan_b