Re: ASSA and Many-Worlds

From: Jason Resch <>
Date: Sun, 28 Jan 2007 04:40:38 -0600

On 1/28/07, Stathis Papaioannou <> wrote:
> Consciousness *seems* to be continuous even if at a fundamental level time
> or brain processes are discrete. Also, although I agree that there is no
> necessary connection between observer moments, there *seems* to be a
> connection, in that almost by definition I won't suddenly find myself
> turning Chinese in the next moment even though there are 50 times as many
> Chinese as Australians in the world. If the feeling that I remain the same
> person from moment to moment is an illusion, then I am interested in how
> that illusion can be maintained, regardless of the underlying mechanisms of
> consciousness, time, whether or not there exists a real world, and so on.

I think the reason the illusion is maintained is rather trivial, whenever
your brain has the
thought: "How come I was born as Stathis Papaioannou, and only ever
remember being Stathis Papaioannou?" Your brain is limited to the
memories contained within it. And since there is no way for your
brain to have integrated memories of what it is like to be other
observers, your illusion of personal identity is maintained.

> Either I'm one of few or one of many. If everyone guesses that they are
> one of many, more are going to be right than if everyone guesses that they
> are one of few. Therefore, I should guess that I'm one of many. Is that what
> you are suggesting?

Yes, and once we assume we are probably one of many similar or identical
observer-moments, we should ask "Why should there be many?"

The argument has some appeal assuming we have no other reason to favour
> guessing that we are one of many or one of few. However, lack of evidence
> against something does not necessarily mean that thing is likely or even
> possible. As it happens there is perhaps some evidence for MW from quantum
> mechanics, but were it not for this, we could easily class MW along with
> pink elephants as something very unlikely which cannot be rescued by the

If many-worlds is true, consider for a second how many
histories lines (and copies of you) must have been created by now. The
universe had been branching into untold numbers of copies, untold numbers of
times each second, for billions of years before you were born. While not
every branch contains you, once you appeared in one history line, a new copy
of you has been created for every possible outcome of every quantum event
that happens anywhere in this universe. I would be
astonished if many-worlds turned out to be false, not only because of ASSA,
but also due to due to the paradoxes that exist in other interpretations,
and David Deutsch's reasoning that the computations of a quantum computer
must be done somewhere, and single-world views cannot explain,
for example, how Shor's algorithm works.

From a mathematical/computational perspective a many-world universe has only
marginally more complicated description (program) than a universe that has a
one-to-one mapping of states.

For a simple example of how this is possible, consider the Fibonacci
sequence, defined as:
F(0) = 1
F(1) = 1
F(n>1) = F(n-1) + F(n-2)

But a sequence that defines an exponentially growing number of
states can be made just by changing the + to a plus or minus:
F(0) = 1
F(1) = 1
F(n>1) = F(n-1) F(n-2)

Therefore mathematical descriptions of universes like our own should be
common, and only slightly rarer than universes that lack the property of
many-worlds. However, many-worlds universes define so many more states, and
so many more observers that most of reality should be generated by short
programs that define massive numbers of states before halting. An
interesting question: What about programs that loop, would
observers and states in such a universe have an infinite measure or should
looping be treated the same as halting?


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Received on Sun Jan 28 2007 - 05:40:49 PST

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