Re: Craziness of a quantum suicidal

From: Wei Dai <>
Date: Tue, 6 Jul 1999 18:51:31 -0700

On Sat, Jun 19, 1999 at 05:00:47PM -0700, wrote:
> I may have the wrong definition here; if so please could you briefly
> summarize the absolute SSSA?
> I think the idea is that each observer-moment has a measure which
> describes the probability that it would be selected randomly from
> among all observer-moments. Each moment of consciousness that we
> experience is weighted by that measure, and it is much more likely that we
> experience high measure moments than that we experience low measure ones.
> In particular, our current experiences of reading and writing on this
> mailing list should be relatively high measure compared to a potentially
> vast number of extremely low measure and hence improbable ones.

I think you understand it the same way I do.

> The question then is whether we should commit quantum suicide (QS) in
> this model. There are two problems that we have to dispose of first.
> The first is that this universe is deterministic, hence questions of
> policy may seem meaningless, since there is no free will. We will in fact
> commit QS or not depending on the laws of physics and not any policies
> we adopt. This objection I think we can dispose of in the standard ways
> in which free will is coupled with determinism, mainly claiming that the
> two phenomena are identical but occur at different levels of description.
> The second problem is that there seems to be no need for a definition
> of identity in this model; each observer-instant exists on its own,
> and although the laws of physics are such that its measure will be
> related to the measures of succeeding and following observer-instants,
> there is no other necessary coupling between them. In particular we
> don't assume that there is one person whose identity flows from one
> moment to the next. Rather, each observer instant exists on its own.
> So it is not clear what it means to ask whether "I" should commit QS,
> if the concept of identity isn't used.
> Nevertheless I think we can say that whatever policy is appropriate with
> regard to QS can be expressed independently of any concept of identity.
> The policy would be something like, "commit QS if circumstances at the
> observer-instant in question satisfy condition X." The question is
> then what rule a general observer should adopt in deciding whether to
> commit QS.
> We still need one more element, though: what the goal is of the observer?
> He needs to decide whether to commit QS based on some criteria.
> What should they be?

I agree completely. I've been arguing that there is no justification for QS
that is independent of one's goals.

> It seems to me that we can identify two goals which are both plausible,
> one which would justify QS and one which would not. The first would
> be to maximize the average happiness of all observer-instants in the
> universe. The second would be to maximize the total amount of happiness
> in the universe. (I believe this was discussed earlier on the list,
> so I apologize for going over old ground, but I have forgotten the
> resolution if any.)

Unfortunately neither of these goals make much sense. The first one you
propose leads to the unpalatable conclusion that not only should you commit
QS but that you should kill (murder) anyone whose happiness drops below
average. The second goal implies that you should construct Von Neumann
probes that would reproduce and fill the universe with either computer
simulations of pleasurable mental activity or static copies of pleasureable
mind state depending on which theory of consciousness you accept. I don't
think either of these are any less arbitrary than any other goal, such as
minimizing the standard deviation of happiness of all observer-instants
(which can be interpreted as making the world fairer).

> So it seems to me that even with the absolute SSSA (if I have understood
> it properly) there is a matter of goals which must be resolved before
> we can say that QS is unjustified.

Yes, but I don't think the goals themselves can be justified in an absolute
sense (i.e. not relative to some other goals) so the final result is that
there is no absolute justification for QS.
Received on Tue Jul 06 1999 - 18:56:31 PDT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Feb 16 2018 - 13:20:06 PST