Re: Craziness of a quantum suicidal

From: Russell Standish <>
Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1999 08:58:14 +1000 (EST)

> Jaques Mallah's role is important in that he forces us to confront important
> issues. However, he could more effectively communicate by "polishing" his
> style. Enough said of that. Wei Dai has summarized the issue very well.
> In a message dated 99-06-19 18:29:26 EDT, Wei Dai writes:
> <<
> I think the main point of disagreement between the two camps now is
> relative SSSA versus absolute SSSA (Marchal's terms). Can we all agree
> that given the absolute SSSA, there is no justification for QS? >>
> My understanding of the "Strong" Self Sampling Assumption is shaky, but I
> think I agree with the above statement. I would find it clearer if it could
> be rephrased as follows: If the number of branching in the MW is absolute
> then there is no justification for QS.
> This is the crux of the matter.
> Jaques Mallah's position is summarized in his words:
> << Your total measure would be reduced, so there would be less
> observers with that name in the ensemble, and the total number of
> observers would be less. >>
> Clearly Jacques views the number of branches in the MW as absolute and
> limited. If you do QS and trim a few branches you just end up with less
> branches. The more stringent the QS conditions (winning a $1million or a
> $1billion or having Elvis Presley come back to life) the smaller the number
> of branches you end up in. And if you make the conditions too stringent you
> may end up with nothing. No more of you.
> If however, the number of branches does not change no matter where you are in
> the MW -- according to a kind of a super Cosmological Principle -- then no
> matter how many times you commit QS, you still have the same number of
> branches left. This, I think, is the "relative" SSSA that Wei Dai and Marchal
> are talking about. Adding branches or subtracting branches has no impact on
> the probability of your future existence. And it is precisely in the
> discussion of probability in this environment that some of the hottest
> discussions with Jacques have taken place.
> So which is it? absolute and limited number of branches or relative and
> unlimited?
> I think that the discussion hinges around the size of the MW. If the size is
> finite, then there is no question, in my mind that Jacques is right. The
> number of branches is finite and QS just trims the MW tree (or network). If
> however, the MW is infinite, then the answer is more difficult.
> Imagine the MW to be infinite aleph1 just like the number of points on a
> line. In this environment the super Cosmological Principle I mentioned above
> applies: no matter how many times you cut that line, the number of points on
> any segment is still aleph1. This number is like the speed of light: a
> physical constant of that world: aleph1, independent of the observer's
> position -- or line segment.
> So one condition for justifying QS is having an infinite MW. -- I am not sure
> what is the lowest of Cantor's infinities would correspond to a sufficient
> condition.
> A second condition is that the number of branches "cut" by QS should be
> infinitely smaller than the infinity of the MW. (ie Aleph QS < Aleph MW)
> I would like to add that on purely philosopical grounds I can only conceive
> of an absolute infinitely large MW, larger than all of Cantor's infinities --
> because any other size would have to be arbitrary and therefore have a reason
> to be so. And this limited MW would end up being just one instance of many
> other MW in a larger MMW.
> So which is it? Is the MW finite or infinite? Is QS justified?

This is well said, particularly with your example given as
clarification. Minor quibble, don't confuse "c" - the cardinality of
real line segments with \aleph1 - that the two are the same is a
conjecture, not proven.

In fact your argument works with discrete sets - \aleph0 works just as
well. However, quantum mechanics is a continuous theory, so i believe
reality is much more like "c".

> This said, I think that NOTHING justifies QS. My position however is ethical.
> As the idea of the MW matured in my mind, I have become convinced that while
> the MW is absolutely infinite, it is possible to avoid the nihilist
> philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche and evolve an ethic of the many worlds. In
> out in my last post. Beautifully said in the 23rd psalm: "The Lord is my
> shepherd, I shall not want...the shadow of the valley of death (the MW)... I
> shall fear no evil... .my cup runneth over" The knowledge that we are
> immortal and that all stings and arrows are temporary can give us a new
> perspective on the world.
> George Levy

Nice little theological example. Good for throwing at rabid


Dr. Russell Standish Director
High Performance Computing Support Unit,
University of NSW Phone 9385 6967
Sydney 2052 Fax 9385 7123
Room 2075, Red Centre
Received on Tue Jun 22 1999 - 15:59:27 PDT

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