Re: quantum suicide = deadly dumb

From: Jacques M. Mallah <>
Date: Fri, 18 Dec 1998 14:02:40 -0500 (EST)

On Wed, 9 Dec 1998, Hal Finney wrote:
> Jacques M. Mallah, <>, asks:
> > To those who still believe in quantum suicide, the most dangerous
> > crackpot idea I've seen in physics: how can you really understand
> > nothing about the simple concept of the measure of a conscious thought?
> Even if suicide reduces the measure of the set of universes in which I
> exist, why is that bad?
> Is it detectable by me? Do I notice if I kill myself off in some
> universes? Can I "feel" when my measure changes? I don't see how.

        Think about the example with the spacially infinite universe.
That gives the same measure distribution, but may be easier to understand
for some people.
        When some thoughts have more measure than others, is that
noticable? Only in an effectively statistical sense. It is just like
when you measure the spin of an electron. You either get spin up or spin
down; that does not tell you the effective probabilities. But by no means
must the effective probabilities be equal! The measure distribution is
determined by the wavefunction in QM. In the example with the infinite
universe, it simply means that more 'copies' of you might see spin up than
spin down.
        Similarly, if more 'copies' see age 30 than age 300, the thoughts
associated with age 30 have more measure. A typical thought associated
with you-like beings is more likely to be drawn from the set of age 30
thoughts. This is all very easy to understand from the point of view of
the infinite universe: the fact that other you-like beings exist out there
has no bearing on your own limited experiences. You are not immortal, and
the set of you-like beings has a limited expectation value of age.
        I am emphasizing here that there is a set of 'you-like beings'
rather than calling them all 'you' because you q-suiciders seem to have
some weird notions of identity. You seem to think that there is a well
defined 'you' and that for some odd reason, the measure of that thing's
thoughts is conserved in time. There is no reason to even think that
personal identity is such a well defined notion; I am different now than I
was yesterday, and tomorrow there is a small component of the wavefunction
in which the atoms that now compose me have assumed the configuration of
those that now currently compose you.

Gilles HENRI wrote:
> Jacques, I basically agree with what you say, excepted for the last
> sentence. I doubt that the measure of a conscious thought is a simple
> concept. [...]

        Yes, consciousness is not a simple idea, but: measure is. It's
like saying that the mass of a dog is a simple concept. You don't need to
know much about dogs, or how they differ from wolves, to understand what I
mean when I say that Fluffy has half the mass of Rover.

                         - - - - - - -
              Jacques Mallah (
       Graduate Student / Many Worlder / Devil's Advocate
"I know what no one else knows" - 'Runaway Train', Soul Asylum
            My URL:
Received on Fri Dec 18 1998 - 11:08:58 PST

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