# Re: all of me or one of me

From: Saj Malhi <sajm.domain.name.hidden>
Date: Mon, 5 Apr 1999 00:58:51 +0100

>Given the MWI or one of the "everything" theories we've discussed, the
>universe must contain multiple observers who have exactly the same
>memories and experiences as you do. Should you identify with all of them,
>or should you think, "I am one of these people, but I don't know which"?
>
>I think the following thought experiment shows the latter is more
>appropriate. Suppose you are one of two people in a prisoner's dilemma
>type game, where if you push button A both players will get 4 dollars, but
>if you push button B you will get 5 dollars and the other player will get
>nothing. The twist is that both players are given temporary amnesia and
>are put into identical rooms so you don't know what your identity is.
>
>If you identify with both players, then you should press A. However I
>think most people under the circumstances will press B. This implies
>people must condition their goals (utility functions) on their identities.
>That is, they must think like this:
>
>There is equal probability that I am player 1 or player 2. If I am player
>1, then I want to maximise player 1's payoff. If I am player 2, then I
>want to maximise player 2's payoff. If I press A, my expected utility is
>.5*4+.5*4=4 (plus 4 if the other player pushes A). If I press B, my
>expected utility is .5*5+.5*5=5 (plus 4 if the other player pushes A).
>Therefore I should press B.
>
>I don't think it is possible to obtain this result if each player has only
>one unconditional utility function defined over states of the universe.
>This seems to imply that traditional decision theory is incomplete.

This experiment seems more a test of personality than anything else. If you
want to maximise your chances of winning you choose A, whereas if you want
to maximise the potential winnings you choose B. And why would anyone
logically choose an option which actually lessened their chances of winning?
Also, wouldn't the numbers involved influence the result? For example, if A
yielded \$100 and B \$101, wouldn't more people choose A? This is not
necessarily a limitation of the experiment itself but does show that it does
not yield an absolute result.

I think the original question is answered by the fact that we are not aware
of the existence of other versions of ourselves. Since we cannot identify
with anything we are unaware of, the answer is not quite "I am one of these
people, but I don't know which." but rather "I am a person, but I don't know
which."
Received on Sun Apr 04 1999 - 16:59:13 PDT

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