What are you?


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“Reality continues to ruin my life.”



I am an idea, not a body. If someone says, “he isn’t the man I married” do they mean that an action has revealed an unexpected character trait or that a limb has been lost? My entire body could be replaced and I would still be me. Just do it one piece at a time.


I am reminded of Nick Chopper.


I like how Charlie Stross once described it, as a wave in the human condition bounded on each end by a singularity.

I wouldn’t say I’m an idea. I’m a continuum of patterns in atoms governed by a vast biochemical web of energy centered on an information rich neuronal net and figure-headed by a deluded tyrant of ego supremely confident that he’s running the show while a rotating subconscious committee pulls the strings behind the scenes.

In my wedding vows I told my now wife that tomorrow I didn’t want to be the man she married, I wanted to be better than him, and to be a better man than that the day after.


Yeah, that’s what I would call an “idea”. I’ll admit it’s not exactly a standard usage. My only point of disagreement is that I would go beyond “biochemical” and extend what I am well outside “my body” and into various spaces I inhabit, other people I interact with, and machines I rely on. I find the drawing of a line around the body or the brain rather arbitrary.

Or at least that’s what I’d do if I was thinking about what I feel objectively best describes people. Most of the time I think of myself as a dumb sack of meat rather than a shifting piece of the universe.



If you’re asking, “What am I physically?” then that’s easy - I’m a big biological machine made up of a lot of little biological machines.

If you’re asking about the nature of consciousness, then I’m suspicious of anyone who actually tries to give a definitive answer to that question, until we understand the mechanisms behind it well enough to replicate consciousness in a wholly artificial being.


I love Kurzgesagt! Why did you not link to the video as usual? People are going to think this is yet another podcast commercial and skate right past.


Greetings to all the ugly bags of mostly water.


I do adore those vids:

And to answer the question, what am I?

Liked for TNG reference.



I am beginning to suspect that I’m here to serve as a warning to others…


I look forward to the day when a rock group called The What has a hit with “What Are You”


Must resist the impulse… must… resist…

… dammit.


Thanks to Hofstadter’s epic ramble I’m comfortable with consciousness as the quality of any system that contains a representation of itself. At the primitive extreme you may have a program with a single bit state representing “I”, and, via a worm with a few neurones and your very personable dog, to you, gentle correspondent, at the other extreme, modelling these existential meta-matters in your meatstate.

What really cooks my noodle though is the experience of continuous self.



Roger Daltrey says he doesn’t care who I am which makes me feel like he’s been lying to me all these years…in song.


Here are some lyrics from a song I remember hearing on Prairie Home Companion in the 90s.
I only remember the chorus.

Who am I? Who am I?
I don’t even know.
Who I was, who I was,
just a week ago.
Who am I? Who am I?
I wish I wish I knew,
By the way, by the way,
Who the hell are you?


What am I? Sick of your bullshit, pal.