RE: Russell's book

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Sat, 16 Sep 2006 16:10:44 +1000

Periklis Akritidis writes:

> Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> >
> > Yet another QTI money-making scheme, this one rather less frightening
> > than standard QS: you find a gambling game which is completely fair (easier
> > said than done) and take with you the means of instant death, like a strong
> > poison which you keep in your pocket. You place your bet all the while repeating,
> > "if I lose I'll kill myself". You're not crazy and you probably won't kill yourself if
> > you lose, but if it's a perfectly fair game, the non-zero chance that you *might*
> > kill yourself (because you say it to yourself and because you have the means)
> > should, over many bets, swing the odds in your favour in the universes in which
> > you survive.
> Then merely the small probability of commiting suicide in an
> unfavourable universe because of psychological reasons would swing the
> odds towards being in a favourable one. In addition, weak persons,
> likely to commit suicide under harsh conditions, would have higher
> probability of experiencing favourable histories.

I think that would be a prediction of QTI - but only from a first person perspective.
As in Tegmark's original QS thought experiment, from everyone else's point of view,
the physicist will very likely be killed.

> However, you would not want to experience the suicide part. Otherwise,
> what would any instance of you gain from actually doing it? Why would
> it care for other instances of you reaping the benefits? Itself would
> still suffer death. It might as well avoid all risk taking confort in
> the idea that other instances are using the QTI money-making scheme or
> are just being lucky. For the idea to make sense, it is key to avoid
> experiencing anything after the dice are thrown.

This is the most immediate response of people to the QTI idea: even if it's true,
what do I care if other versions of me survive in the multiverse if I'm going to die?
The problem is, you can arbitrarily divide up the moments of your life and say that,
for example, you were alive from 2:50 PM to 2:51 PM, then suddenly vanished
from the universe (i.e. you were instantly and painlessly killed), then a perfect copy
of you suddenly appeared at 2:51 PM and lived another minute. What would you notice
if this happened? Would you worry about dying? I put it to you that this is precisely
what *does* happen, perfectly seamlessly from your point of view, every moment
of your life. The version of you alive at 2:50 PM today is as thoroughly and completely
dead from your point of view at 2:52 PM as if a nuclear bomb had been detonated on
top of you at the earlier time. The disadvantage of the nuclear bomb scenario in a single
branch existence is that the perfect copy of you would not eventuate as a result; but
in the MWI, the perfect copy would eventuate, somewhere. It is understandable that
you might still worry the "real" you would have died, but this is like worrying that the
"real" you died at 2:51 PM, or died in the teleporter, and the present you is just a very
good copy, complete with false memories.

> In the factoring scheme you need some time to check the solution, so
> you would end up checking the solution and by the time you find that
> you have a wrong answer it is too late, bang and, if QTI holds,
> miraculous escape. For the scheme to work, the solution being wrong
> must be equivallent to you not existing. With original QTI and death
> that is already the case.

You would still end up dead in most worlds from a third person POV though, wouldn't
you? That seems the main impediment to actually conducting a QS-type experiment (aside
from the possibility that all this MWI stuff is just wrong, of course). Even in my scheme where
there is just a possibility of death some calculations I have done suggest that if you could
demonstrate that your success rate after many bets was better than chance to a statistically
significant extent, your chance of dying would also have to be statistically significant. It's
as if the multiverse is conspiring against us to prevent us from proving its existence!

Stathis Papaioannou
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Received on Sat Sep 16 2006 - 02:11:43 PDT

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