RE: ASSA and Many-Worlds

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Thu, 25 Jan 2007 00:59:38 +1100

 Jason Resch writes:

> Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> > Jason Resch writes:
> > Let's say being spared is "neutral" while being tortured is obviously bad, even
> > if you are tortured for only a few minutes. Also, assume the intensity of the
> > torture and the quality of life on being spared is the same in duplication/ coin toss
> > situations.
> >
> > What if I change the example and say you will be duplicated a million times, and
> > only one of the copies will be tortured? From a selfish point of view, you can
> > almost certainly expect to find yourself one of the copies that will be spared,
> > and I think you would be crazy to choose the coin flip. The equivalence of the
> > coin flip/ duplication example (when the probabilities are equal) is why we cannot
> > distinguish between MWI and CI of QM. It makes no difference to me whether
> > the world splits into two and one copy of me is tortured if I toss the coin or whether
> > there is only one version of me with a 50% chance of being tortured.
> >
> In the case you laid out you give two choices:
> A) The replicator
> B) The coin flip
> Case A results in 999,999 neutral lifetimes worth of observer moments
> and 1 lifetime of excruciating torture filled observer moments. Net
> outcome among all branched universes: -1
>> Case B results if half of one's future observer moments remebering
> torture and half remembering being spared. Net outcome among all
> branched universes: -0.5
> Therefore it's still best to take case B, the coin flip.
> What makes the result seem so unintuitive is the concept of a lifetime
> of observer moments that has a net result being neutral. That means
> that trough all the ups and downs in that life, if one could see it all
> laid out before them, they would realize that person had so many
> negative events in their life that they might as well never have been
> born. With this consideration, it becomes more apparent that the
> 999,999 extra "neutral" lives offer no real advantage in living out,
> nor does the spared life in the coin flip need to be figured in. All
> that should be considered in this case is that with replication all
> universes will have someone who is tortured, while in the coin flip
> only half will.
> Most people consider their life to be a positive thing, and few would
> say they wouldn't mind if they had never been born. For most people,
> if it came down to a million life times for one person's torture, it
> would be a better choice over than the coin flip.
> Here the replication is only the optimal choice for neutral life times.
> If a lifetime is very positive, the 999,999 good lives outweigh the
> one tortured. If the spared lifetimes were very negative, the 999,999
> lifetimes would only add to the negative observer moments created
> through the torture, and again the coin flip is best.

>and correction:

>My appologies to those on this list, this is how I should have worded
>my conclusion:
>Positive spared lives = Take replication
>Neutral spared lives = Take coin flip
>Negative spared lives = Take coin flip
This is an analysis from an altruistic viewpoint, i.e. which choice will increase
the net happiness in the world. What I am asking is the selfish question, what
should I do to avoid being tortured? If I choose the replication it won't worry
me from a selfish point of view if one person will definitely be tortured because
I am unlikely to be that person. Indeed, after the replication it won't affect me
if *all* the other copies are tortured, because despite sharing the same psychology
up to the point of replication, I am not going to experience their pain.

If some multiverse theory happens to be true then by your way of argument we
should all be extremely anxious all the time, because every moment terrible things
are definitely happening to some copy of us. For example, we should be constantly
be worrying that we will be struck by lightning, because we *will* be struck by lightning.
But normally we don't worry about this because being struck by lightning in 1/million
actual worlds is subjectively equivalent to being struck by lightning in a single world
with probability 1/million.

Stathis Papaioannou
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Received on Wed Jan 24 2007 - 09:12:57 PST

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