Does the “identity” of a person depend on the atomic level, with all the implied quantum weirdness? It cannot–otherwise, you would be a completely different person from who you were in the previous nanosecond, let alone yourself a year ago. Or yourself as a baby–completely different, yet the same? That is one reason the “holidays” can be depressing: We remember our family members as they used to be, years ago, when they were babies or children. Today they’re the same person–yet the person they used to be is gone.
What would it take for an information system to have the same “awareness” as I do?
The current model of memory (as far as I understand) is defined by the pattern of connections among the brain’s neurons (and possibly accessory cells such as glia). In any event, there are a defined number of neurons (and accessory cells) in a brain, so at any given moment there must be a defined number of neural connections and memory bits.
But to retain a memory requires continual reinforcement, perhaps making new connections and losing old ones. That’s why we recall best those memories that we keep remembering again–but we also tend to change those “memories” as we remember them. And false memories can be planted (Faux News does it all the time.)
In fact, as we surround ourselves by ever-more immersive media, including 3D sound, vision, and touch, will our “false” experiences become more real than our “real” ones? As we replace hearing with hearing aids, and (eventually) vision with brain implants, and brain with cyber-processors, are we uploading ourselves incrementally?