What's the term (if such exists) for merging with AI (e.g. via neural lace) and becoming so diluted (e.g. 1:10000) that it effectively results in a death of the original self?

It's not quite "digital ascension", because that way it would still be you. What I'm thinking is, that the resulting AI with 1 part in 10000 being you, is not you anymore. The AI might have some of your values or memories or whatever, but it's not you, and you don't exist separately from it to be called you. Basically - you as you are dead; you died by dissolving in AI.

I would like to read up on this subject, but can't find anything.

  • $\begingroup$ Not an answer to the question, but Kurzweil suggests that this will indeed not be called death at all, and we will still associate the self to the merged subject. $\endgroup$
    – Alpha
    Mar 10, 2017 at 22:35
  • $\begingroup$ I don't know if you are looking for this but, the way answers are written this link might help. $\endgroup$
    – Ugnes
    Apr 19, 2017 at 12:45
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    $\begingroup$ Leading contemporary AI fiction author and mathematician, Hannu Rajaniemi, has weighed in via tweet: "There could be supermind architectures where a humanlike mind can retain some identity, like a cell in a body. But these days I drift towards a Buddhist-ish view: we die through change all the time, and that's the price of living." (This is an individual who is well versed the math and science that underlies these fields, and can rightly be considered a leading philosopher of same, so I though it was worth reposting;) $\endgroup$
    – DukeZhou
    May 12, 2018 at 22:45
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    $\begingroup$ @DukeZhou I tend to agree about the change being death. It's a somewhat weird viewpoint to take, but once you contemplate things like being randomly dropped in a different persons body, you quickly realize that all you are is a chain of events. Difference between two entities is mostly in continuity, I'd say. Although there's something to be said about the expansion of self, hence the AI question. If an AI can trace it's history back to me (to this exact moment of me writing a comment), does the memory count as me? There's still continuity from me to AI, but we're also two separate entities... $\endgroup$
    – ikaruss
    May 13, 2018 at 4:50
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    $\begingroup$ @DukeZhou ...therefore there must be an amount of change that feels like death. Or birth. Or both. P.S. Thanks for the great answer, btw! $\endgroup$
    – ikaruss
    May 13, 2018 at 4:56

3 Answers 3


I find the concept of the a Turing machine useful. In one dimension, everything is a string. All of the parts that are "not you" are merely a substrate, a medium for the program your_mind runs on top of. The you, your identity, the "metaphysical" component we think of as the mind, is a result of running the algorithm that is your_mind on the bioware of your body, or, the hardware (technically, "wetware".) So what we're really talking about is the software, and in that light I might use:

because the software is being translated to execute in a new environment, or

as in moving software from one system to another.

Philip Dick wrote a philosophical narrative, not technically sci-fi, called The Transmigration of Timothy Archer which is about identity moving between bodies. In a rare departure from his usual work about AI and the effects of a technological society on the human spirit, this book looks at the question of identity in the context of the soul, which opens up all kinds of philosophical questions surrounding the type of technology we're speculating on, particularly in relation to the self.

I value artistic insight, and Phillip K. is considered quite prescient, so perhaps

is most appropriate, as it carries both metaphysical and information technology meanings.

Re death by dissolution, it's worthwhile to look at the etymology of dissolve:

late 14c. (transitive and intransitive) "to break up" (of material substances), from Latin dissolvere "to loosen up, break apart," from dis- "apart" (see dis-) + solvere "to loosen, untie," from PIE *se-lu-, from reflexive pronoun *s(w)e- (see idiom) + root *leu- "to loosen, divide, cut apart." Meaning "to disband" (an assembly) is early 15c. Related: Dissolved; dissolving.

I think you're on the right track with dilution, certainly per the modern usage, but it may be possible to get more precise.

It's not about breaking up, or washing away (except metaphorically); rather, it's about minimization as in the diminishment of the original software kernel (the self) in relation to an expanding algorithm.

early 15c., from merger of two obsolete verbs, diminue and minish. Diminue is from Old French diminuer "make small," from Latin diminuere "break into small pieces," variant of deminuere "lessen, diminish," from de- "completely" + minuere "make small" (from PIE root *mei- (2) "small").

The Old French diminuer is apt, as is the Latin deminuere and deminuo, which also carries a meaning of "civil death" and "abatement". Abatement carries a meaning of mitigation, which can be defined fundamentally as "lessening of effect," in this case of the kernel of the original self in relation to the new aggregate.

It may be useful to think of it as a ratio 1/ℵ, with the self as the 1. Important to note the ratio is not literal--each number represent an aggregation of functions we call programs.

That's how I'd think of it mathematically, but metaphysically, Nat nails it by referencing Jung and the death of the ego.

Ego comes from the Latin noun for the self (I, me) which can also be plural (we, us). It's also fun to note that the Latin verb of being is sum, because in English, sum has a mathematical meaning of an aggregate considered as a whole.

Because we're talking about what it means to be a person, but we also want to connote a function (a process of relative minimization) I am thinking:

(noun) the action of divesting someone or something of human characteristics or individuality.
SOURCE: Google

The fun part is that there's a legal definition of person:

In legal use, "corporate body or corporation having legal rights," 15c., short for person aggregate (c. 1400), person corporate (mid-15c.)

Which I think applies (loosely) to the aggregation of function that comprises the program we call the self, and the greater aggregation of functions that form a new self.

Because here we're talking about the loss of the original individual, depersonalization as opposed to repersonalization as a corporate entity.

Alternately, I might propose:

  • Deindividualization

with the definition "a loss in individual identity within a group" (also known as deindividuation).

(Charles Stross wrote about this in Accellerando, where a character chooses to be subsumed by a group intelligence as the only means of escaping a swarm of autonomous lawsuits;)


How did it became diluted? if by mutations then it has "evolved" or neural plasticity then it "learned", Alzheimer then it got "sick".

If by analogy, you took too much psycho-active drug and grew up learning alot of stuff and adjusting your moral compass drastically, then got Alzheimer and now you don't know who You are, you are not the same person any more, but you didn't die. So you are still you.

Only zombies, who physically die first, then get re-animated, then yes, they are pretty much dead, also depends on the movie director.

  • $\begingroup$ I like how you throw a philosophical hand grenade here by investigating the concept of "you-ness" :) $\endgroup$
    – DukeZhou
    May 13, 2018 at 20:32
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    $\begingroup$ @DukeZhou, The question begged for it ;). Your answer is very interesting. $\endgroup$
    – Aus
    May 13, 2018 at 20:46

"Ego death"

Ego death is a "complete loss of subjective self-identity."

-"Ego death", Wikipedia

The defining aspect of an ego is an exclusive sense of self. If an ego-dominated individual joined a greater mind and dissolved within it without really dying, then the only thing that it's really lost is its ego.

Real world analogy: political states' identities dissolving into larger states

For a real-world analogy, the United States used to be composed of individual states that had a much stronger sense of self-identity; it different states were sort of like different countries.

Over time, this distinction's been fading away, and most Americans tend to have little concern for by-state distinctions. For example, someone from Canada is a foreigner even if the Canadian border is close by, but someone from the other side of the US is still basically just another American.

Today, this process repeats itself as individual nations merge under the United Nations. Some of the recent political battles have been fought between globalists who embrace this great unification and nationalists who wish to maintain clear, distinct state identities and interests.

It's not sudden

Ego death won't typically be sudden. Rather, the smaller mind would join a larger one by creating new connections over time. For quite a while, there're still be a meaningful distinction between the ego and the rest of the collective mind.

As time goes on, new connections will keep being created and removed, just like in a normal human brain. The relative lack of connections between the individual's mind and the larger collective mind will tend to fade away. Eventually, the distinction between the mind and the larger collective becomes essentially meaningless.

Once the mind no longer cares or is able to distinguish itself from the larger collective, their ego/sense-of-self is "dead", or as you've said, dissolved into the AI.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer, btw. (You nail it and, full disclosure, I wasn't even fully understanding the question until I read your answer;) My only thought is that ego death is a threshold that is crossed, but surely implies the function leading to that threshold. $\endgroup$
    – DukeZhou
    May 13, 2018 at 20:31

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