Anticipatory Backup Anxiety

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Baribal Baribal's picture
Anticipatory Backup Anxiety

Okay, fellow egos, I've got something to share with you, and request constructive attempts at solution. It's not something I share lightly, as even to scum like me, there's still things that are exquisitely intimate, but as I can't be the only one with this problem, I surmise that it's better to open source it, and crowd source the solution. Obviously, I've already studied what resources there are on the mesh, and consulted what colleagues I have access to, but so far the only thing I've learned is how this certain mental queasiness looks on an avian body. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

A few words of context for those who don't know me: I'm a psychotherapist and psychosurgeon by training, but since this is a rather new problem, especially at the scale that I think it might exhibit itself these days, I'm at a loss what kind of reframing might help. (Another few words for the non-shrinks: Reframing means deconstructing the interpretation of an observation that is causing negative outlooks, and replacing it with a more positive one. It's one approach to augmenting what we do with your nervous system with pills and psychosurgery, and what we used to get the big bucks per hour for.)

So, now how best to approach it... I spend most of my time as an infomorph, and like just about everybody, I back myself up every now and then. I've got a nice simulspace for that, a remembrance of Earth that was: Mountains under the mild spring sun, babbling brooks, the smell of pine, all painstakingly reconstructed from how I remember it when my parents dragged me along a hiking trail once or twice a year when I was still too young to appreciate it. It's fascinating what you start to miss when you can't have it anymore. Well, now it's doubly fucked... Anyway. Suffice it to say, I've constructed that space for maximum calming effect.

At a certain place in that space, there's a button hovering right in the air. I press it, I'm backed up, it goes green, everything is fine. If I miss hitting it for too long, or a trusted friend triggers the process, I'm reinstantiated right then and there, but the button goes red, so that I know. Minimized continuity loss, at least in that particular moment. I guess you know the disorientation of reinstantiating in an unknown body, in an unknown room, when your last memory is going to your friendly neighborhood bodybank to just get your twice-a-year (or more often in our line of it's-not-work-it's-a-calling) scan. So, that's good to have.

The thing is that recently, I find myself getting more and more anxious in the moments before pressing the button, and that anxiousness setting in sooner and sooner. What if the button will go red, not green?

Of course I know all the platitudes that one can tell a patient. "The point is, you're still there. It's better to lose some time than to lose all time." The thing is, they don't convince me. They don't get me into a sufficiently positive frame of mind to press that button confidently. I can only imagine how much worse it must be for you people who do not have that crutch of a static surrounding...

I also find it surprising how little published literature there is on the reframing of the phenomenon. when I still practiced clinically (or rather, in a corporate clinical setting, pre-Fall), backups were a quite new thing, and most resleeving was morph-to-morph, not reinstantiation. In the meantime, of which I seem to have missed much, we've seen most of transhumanity reinstantiating at least once under traumatic circumstances, and with indentured labor often being extremely risky (Venus, I'm looking at you!), there are also cases of resleeving often. Therefore I can't believe that all we have towards a solution is "Trigger Dopamine in an amount proportional to the time since the last backup." That's a cop-out, a hack, an provisional interim arrangement, not a solution.

So, fellow shrinks and neurotopiary enthusiasts, dear people who have talks with friends about problems like this: What do you say that actually does help?

Morgan's Butchery | Body bank, morph individualization and upgrades | Psychotherapy and Psychosurgery, therapeutic and recreational |

SquireNed SquireNed's picture
So basically your concern is

So basically your concern is that you might die in the meantime between backups, but because you have the same mechanism for reinstantiation and creating backups, you have a strong psychological association between the reinstantiation and backups?

Now, I've forked and died and resleeved and forked enough (with some psychosurgery between many of those) times to really feel quite comfortable with the process, but one of the things that seems like it has to be a major source of anxiety is the fact that your reinstantiation and your backup process lead to the same thing.

Let me ask you a somewhat personal question here: Have you ever had the button flash red? Have you ever been restored from backup? Those things are important for understanding whether the fear is anticipatory or reactive, and those things can make the world of difference.

One thing that certainly determines the psychological impact of resleeving and reinstantiation is the philosophical outlook one has. If those processes are simply about staying alive, and one's goal is to maximize one's time alive, it makes the continuity gap unbearable and really goes beyond the normal stress that the majority of transhumans faced pre-Fall. If you've got a philosophy that is mission-based, or one in which the definition of the self or the perception of lack is different, you'll see that the impact of resleeving is minimal.

That said, I have a lot of forks who run with emergency farcasters. I've got some economic restrictions on that here, plus the local authorities frown on antimatter, but that's one way to really prevent any sort of gap in continuity (or at least minimize it).

Baribal Baribal's picture
I can confidently exclude my

I can confidently exclude my setup as a source of this anxiety; if anything, it lessens it. After all, the basic setup is the same for all of us, just in different variations. All users of synth- and infomorphs have a button like that, although it's usually on an ARI, not in simulspace. For biomorphs it's lying down on the ego bridge, and waiting for the moment of synchroniation to happen. In fact I am reasonably sure that my neo-avian colleague, being the proud owner of gray matter, does in fact experience a little bit more of that anticipatory anxiety.

As for personal experiences, yes, it has actually happened to me twice. Once my stack was apparently irretrievable, and once I was informed that my last words were "This is one memory I really don't need." As I have also been forcibly resleeved once, I can attest to the shock of that experience having been significantly greater; one moment I feel a stabbing pain in my neck, the next I fade into consciousness while observing myself destroying huge amounts of data. *That* was something that disturbed me for quite a long time, while with my button setup it's more a matter of finally pressing the button, seeing it flash red, and going "Uh-oh...", while that anxious anticipation is simply gone; after all, whatever happened, now it's history. So it's not the thought of the moment of backup being one where things happen that I won't remember (on that note, interacting with people that remember an interaction with you that you yourself don't remember is a *weird* thing indeed), it's more the dilemma of having to take an action while not being in control of its effects. Rolling the dice. Frankly, I'm amazed that people in high-risk lifestyles don't report this phenomenon more often; the most pithy description I have heard was from a person who experienced it once while backing up via ego bridge: "Hey Doc, is this going to take AAAAARGH, where am I???"

Morgan's Butchery | Body bank, morph individualization and upgrades | Psychotherapy and Psychosurgery, therapeutic and recreational |

SquireNed SquireNed's picture
Keep in mind that most people

Keep in mind that most people don't have quite the same experience. I have a handful of backup services I use, but I'm not intimately familiar with the inside of my body-bank. What you're describing is backing up and re-instantiating in the exact same place. It's not that analogous to what many other people experience; synthmorphs and infomorphs have a button that lets them back up instantly, yes. However, your re-instantiation is co-located in simulspace with your backup.

When I've died, for instance, I wake up in the body bank. I might have cortical stack information, or I might just have my backup (or I might have backup and XP from some of the lack to help me out, or backup and muse assistance, or backup and other data sources to fill the gap), but I don't typically wake up on the ego bridge.

Now, some of this is because due to my line of work I tend to have an ego bridge but not a body bank, so I can't resleeve from my "office" but I can certainly use it to make my own backups (and do frequently, especially if I plan on getting into a fight). However, most people have a subjective gap near the resleeve process, at least if they are sleeving into a pod or biomorph.

There is also the fact that your deaths so far have been generally traumatic. Attempting to minimize the trauma by means of providing a clinical environment only means that the trauma shifts from the physical world to the mental world.

If you want to hop over to have a chat face-to-face, here's my egocast address.

Egocast Address: MarinerisNet.mesh/38.192.AU24.F3

Authentication: [restricted to user Morgan]

Routing Code: 0029134185

Make sure to have your egocasting client ping for server configs first. Otherwise you'll bounce off.

Urthdigger Urthdigger's picture
Ok, first off? Remove the

Ok, first off? Remove the fucking light. I'm sure we've all had an experience where we've received a message or been called into a meeting and just been dreading what might be said, what bad news could be presented. By receiving the information immediately after you backup, you've turned the very act of backing up into such a situation. By not allowing yourself to find out immediately if you've been reinstantiated or not, you give yourself more time to relax from the stress of backing up in the first place. Possibly others can break the news to you gently.

Anxiety is unavoidable with restoring, losing so much time and dealing with the fact that we died is just not something we can easily cope with. However, a way to reframe the backup is to not look at the future, but towards the past. I like to equate backing up to reaching a save point in a video game. All that progress you've made since your last save is now permanent and will not be erased by a mistake. In fact I have a list of video games I often recommend to clients suffering from backup anxiety that are hard and do not allow saving except at save points. Ostensibly I say that it's escapism, something fun to keep their mind occupied, but the idea is that the games will subtly reinforce the idea of relief on saving their data, and hopefully extend that relief to saving in the real world.

Now, I will say this is still on-going research and my hypothesis hasn't been confirmed... but the data so far looks promising.

Baribal Baribal's picture
I think you do have an

I think you do have an interesting hypothesis there, although I'm not quite convinced yet. In particular, the phenomenon I'm describing is an anxiety *before* pushing the button, not the discontinuity stress that occurs after reinstantiating. Also it doesn't occur when I resleeve or ego-cast, as I do know what will happen next (at least with a high enough confidence). I guess that at this point, it'd be reasonable to start thinking about how to set up interviews and clinical trials. That's one thing I can't really do well here on the Carnival, at least not without being asked "When have you become such a drag?" Any chance you have some pull with local researchers? This isn't really something prone to balloon into a big, prestigious project, so there's probably little use in pitching it to the Argonauts, but it might be good material for some psychosurgeon's thesis.

As for meeting up, I'll be busy for a while (the Carnival swarm will enter the Venus area in a few days, and we'll be at Luna soon after), but after that, sure. Or you could come over here. Feel like test-sleeving my latest Faun pod?

Morgan's Butchery | Body bank, morph individualization and upgrades | Psychotherapy and Psychosurgery, therapeutic and recreational |

SquireNed SquireNed's picture
I have some obligations here

I have some obligations here that I can't duck out of easily, unfortunately. I'd send a fork, but by the time I prune it down to a safe traveling memory-set there's a lot of stuff that goes missing and even a "beta" fork works more like a "gamma". No offense, but if I'm going to egocast to a scum barge I want to send something with some pretty limited memory, and we can't really have this conversation with a version of me that's cleared for public release.

Baribal Baribal's picture
Urthdigger, *that* does

Urthdigger, *that* does indeed sound like a good recommendation, and a much better frame.

Morgan's Butchery | Body bank, morph individualization and upgrades | Psychotherapy and Psychosurgery, therapeutic and recreational |

Urthdigger Urthdigger's picture
I know the anxiety is from

I know the anxiety is from before the button is pressed, but the anxiety present afterwards is a major factor. Essentially, you're dreading the outcome of pushing the button; Although logically you know otherwise, subconsciously you feel like pushing the button CAUSES the death and loss of continuity.

Still, even with distancing the feedback, there is still the knowledge that you may shortly find out you've been killed when you push it. Hence the gamification of the process to shift the focus towards the progress that has been saved. I've already begun clinical trials of a sort, but sadly I do not have much pull with local researchers.

I've sent them my own material from time to time, but it's mostly been concerning my own alien biochemistry. While I do practice psychotherapy, there is a distinction drawn between researchers and therapists, and I'm afraid I fall firmly in the latter category. If I build up some further evidence or this becomes a large enough problem to devote more resources to it I may receive some aid, but for now it's just me testing this. So, I don't make any promises as to its efficacy.

ShadowDragon8685 ShadowDragon8685's picture
iDent: Daughter of Chrome

iDent: Daughter of Chrome

It's another dodge, but my advice?

Automate it.

I'm riding a cyberbrained neotenic (Well, sort of a hacked ephebotenic, but whatever,) and with an automatic backup system, I don't have to think about it, any more than I have to think about, say, backing up my morph design work in-progress.

This is muse work, not person work, in my opinion. Set up a good, secure way to backup and store your backups, and let the kind of person who likes to run datavaults worry about the rest of the details. Sure, there could come a moment when you were in the middle of something and then suddenly you're somewhere else wondering WTF, but honestly, I think that sudden jump would be preferable to pushing the button.

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