For once, a productive debate on Facebook!

I had quite an interesting debate last night, in Facebook of all places! It hasn't quite come to any sort of close yet, but I figured I would post it here anyway. It all started when I posted this XKCD cartoon on Facebook. A few minutes later Mike commented, saying that he disagreed with the premise of the cartoon. This led to the following impromptu debate.
NOTE: I preformed a spell check on the text, and made a few very minor changes (second->2nd for consistency, etc.) but it is otherwise unedited.

Mike- I don't agree. First, the "house" is still there, just broken apart. A box of Legos is anything that can be built with them. Secondly, Cryonics.

Me- Aren't the Legos therefore anything that could be built with them, even if they haven't been put into that configuration yet? What about other interchangeable parts, like atoms, or molecules? Does that mean that people who don't yet physically exist, or even never physically will exist, do? It's an awful slippery slope to equate potential with existence.
And second, from a practical stand point, don't you find it arrogant to value an undeveloped, and even questionably possible procedure to perhaps save your own life over a procedure we KNOW can save multiple others?

Mike- Yes. The amount and quantity of atoms to make a Will [my name] is Will, it just hasn't been assembled yet. A young me is me in the same way that an old me is me. And why is believing in that a slippery slope? Because it is unconventional or something?
Yes. Your body is yours, and you do not owe it to humanity when your are dead. By your logic, wouldn't it be arrogant to smoke, eat fast food, or do anything remotely bad to your health because your body could be used by others?

Me- I disagree. First off, it's that assembly we are talking about. not the potential for the assembly to exist, but the actual existence of that assembly, even withstanding it's physical existence.The configuration of atoms used to make a young you is completely different than that of you now. The configuration changed, and that old configuration no longer physically exists.
Where are these endless configuration stored? Do they take up space, or clutter the proverbial attic? If not, by what definition do you argue they exist? This is the slippery slope. How can you define existence to include these configuration but not include, say unicorns, at least to some extent physically possible. If your definition does allow unicorns to "exist" without evidence of their physical existence, hasn't your definition lost it's potency, even it's usefulness?
@2nd I think there is a balance to be struck between selflessness, and self-service. As a social animal, living in a society, there is a level of debt that I do owe to humanity, solely because I expect to partake in it's benefits. In addition to this, I actually can become a happier person (and who wouldn't want that?) by giving back more than my share. As a communal animal, I can expect only to receive that I'm willing to give. I don't see cryogenics as a truly viable option (much akin to a sort of scientific Pascal's Wager), and thus have no qualms with being an organ donor. If I needed an organ, I would certainly want others to be organ donors, and thus I see no reason not to be one myself. I'm certainly not going to be around to care.

Mike- Yes, I am made differently that I was when I was young. But, I am still me.

As unicorns must be made of atoms, atoms can be considered unicorn pieces. The assembled unicorn doesn't exist, but it's pieces do. They could have existed at some point in time. I fully support what you are saying, that parts by themselves do not constitute existence. What I disagree with is when the comic says the assembly is gone. It was never there in the first place; even the concept of an "assembled" object is subjective. People give meaning to the concept of house, logically, just because the parts exist is evidence of the whole existing.
@2nd: Debt is a non-natural concept. Happiness is made for yourself. I do not expect to receive something, but I do not reject it. Cryogenics is far from being analogous to Pascal's Wager; as the state of "life" is electric signals being transmitted to form a level of sentience (effectively a program), and as humanity is continually increasing technological boundaries, the ability to repair and control things at the atomic level is inevitable.

Me- @1st The assembly was never there in the first place? I would say it certainly was (unless you mean this in the trivial sense that it was never technically in the cartoon). Certainly the idea of what constitutes assembly is subjective, but it can be objectively defined to a point! Even withstanding this, I'm sure we could agree that some things are assembled. Both you and the Lego house have properties parts alone would not (even objective ones, I bet the house could keep some water in, something the blocks alone, or in some other configuration, couldn't), and that some of these are properties that other physical ordering wouldn't have produced. While there is a subjective element that clouds the discussion, I think it a step to far to declare the Lego house never existed.
@2nd As is society itself. And i might even disagree that you distinction is valid or sensical. Animals can show that they feel indebted to others, have senses of Justice and morality. Are these all "non-natural"? I would also point out your subtle use of naturalistic fallacy here. What is natural is not what is right, wrong, or really anything else. It's what is natural.
Happiness (like debt) is a useful tool developed in our evolution. It can be (and is) used to produce behaviors by incentive. As a social animal, some of the behaviors I receive joy from come out of helping others, and being helped by others. Happiness to a large degree does drive us to do communal things, because doing communal things is more beneficial to all of us than doing solitary things. Society itself stands as evidence. As for cryogenics,if we were to have that much atomic control, would it truly matter should you be missing your heart or liver? Why not give these things to people who need then NOW, rather than pretend that such advanced future technology would be unable to provide suitable replacements? The parallels with pascal's wager persist. Here's a quote with only a few words replaced.
"It makes more sense to be cryogenically preserved than not. If you are preserved, and the technology is developed, you will be revived, and live on in the future. If you do not preserve yourself, and the technology is developed, you will not be revived. If technology is never developed, you have lost nothing either way."-I had to change very few phrases at all, hmm?

Mike- @1st: Things may be assembled in the societal definition of the world, but a bunch of random atoms = a bunch of random atoms, and a human = a bunch of random atoms. Unless you somehow figure out how to fuse the most currently known elementary particle, really, nothing can be assembled. The house does not exist, it is a term we use to refer to a specific collection of atoms.
@2nd: Yes, all society is unnatural. I am using the concept of natural as that of what would be considered most efficient, not that of animals, and trees. Emotions, and culture trained responses, such as love, obligation, ect, have no value other then to produce pleasure which really is a self induced occurrence.
I am not assuming that it is likely said technology will exist. I am using scientific precedent, in the case of Moore's law, to reliably predict we will advance that far. Pascal's wager was pure conjecture, as it is impossible to know for sure of god, the very definition of which makes it impossible to know....

Me- @1st All definitions are societal. They are pragmatic, and they are to some degree necessary. As such, I think we can define something as assembled in the same way we might define a table or chair. I think we could, should you agree, define an assembled object as one that has properties beyond those of it's constituent parts alone. It's a poor definition, and one in need of refining, but it might work for this discussion. Every thing is "a bunch of random atoms". You, the computer, the world. It's simply not practical to think of things that way.
@2nd Strangely, I think we are on the same page as far as the debt thing (I still see hints of Naturalistic fallacy though). Yes, all this is self induced, but that's kinda the whole point. The desire to survive is self induced as well, isn't it?
@3rd I think the existence of future Cryogenic technology is a lot like the Existence of God, regardless of Moore's Law. To pull two of the afore mentioned objections...
How do you presume to know that current cryogenic technique will be compatible with future technologies? Certainly those used in the past have been deeply flawed, including suchblunders as freezing bodies without an antifreeze, puncturing cell membranes all around. Why do you thing freezing the whole body is the way to go anyways?
Will a future society want people who do stuff like freeze themselves, rather than be organ donors (since this is how the whole thing came up)? Why would they revive such people, even supposing they could?

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