I don't think that's how consciousness works

I recently read Corey Doctorow's novel Walkaway. It's set in a post-scarcity world where the super-rich (zota rich, or just zotas) hold their power by stomping everyone else down. There's enough to go around, but people have to work (at crap jobs for crap wages) anyway, while the zotas sit back. Some people hate this and decide to opt out by walking away and forming their own communities off the grid. The book follows some of these walkaways, as they're called. (And no, the zotas are not cool with this.)

Another theme of the book is conquering death -- that's how the characters view it. More specifically, their goal is to be able to back up a human's essence, at which point if you get killed you can be restored from backup (initially as a digital simulation, eventually into a new body). This is an attractive idea in SF and this book is hardly the first to explore it, but I always get tripped up by the same issue, including in this book.

That issue is: sure, it'd be nice if I could back up my brain so that "Monica" would never have to cease to exist, but that doesn't mean that backup is me. It would think so, of course; it would have all my memories. But from my perspective, my body dies -- I die. If I'm dead, do I really care if there's a simulation of me running out there somewhere?

This is not conquering death. At best it's mitigating it. Which makes it hard for me to relate to stories where people say "great, ditch the meat body and come back digitally or in a robot or a perfect body or whatever". Would people really do that? I find that hard to swallow.

Despite this point, I mostly enjoyed the book. There's one place where there's a jump in time that I found rather abrupt, and the story is far more dialogue-heavy than I'm used to, with a lot of philosophy in that dialogue. (In other words, large blocks of philosophy-dialogue or exposition-dialogue, as opposed to short, interactive dialogue.) But many of the characters are engaging and walkaway-land sounds like a cool place to live, when the zotas aren't trying to quash it.


Added in a comment:

And then there are the problems of forking (this comes up in Walkaway) and restoring to older versions to erase part of your life (which comes up in Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, which Walkaway is a prequel for and which I have now read). I'm me, but is each of the dozen independent sims of me also me? And how much of a "restore" is me if there's been selective editing? Can you cherry-pick commits too?