Re: against UD+ASSA, part 1

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Wed, 26 Sep 2007 23:34:55 +1000

On 26/09/2007, Wei Dai <> wrote:

> Consider the following thought experiment. Suppose your brain has been
> destructively scanned and uploaded into a computer by a mad scientist. Thus
> you find yourself imprisoned in a computer simulation. The mad scientist
> tells you that you have no hope of escaping, but he will financially support
> your survivors (spouse and children) if you win a certain game, which works
> as follows. He will throw a fair 10-sided die with sides labeled 0 to 9. You
> are to guess whether the die landed with the 0 side up or not. But here's a
> twist, if it does land with "0" up, he'll immediately make 90 duplicate
> copies of you before you get a chance to answer, and the copies will all run
> in parallel. All of the simulations are identical and deterministic, so all
> 91 copies (as well as the 9 copies in the other universes) must give the
> same answer.
> ASSA implies that just before you answer, you should think that you have
> 0.91 probability of being in the universe with "0" up. Does that mean you
> should guess "yes"? Well, I wouldn't. If I was in that situation, I'd think
> "If I answer 'no' my survivors are financially supported in 9 times as many
> universes as if I answer 'yes', so I should answer 'no'." How many copies of
> me exist in each universe doesn't matter, since it doesn't affect the
> outcome that I'm interested in.
> Notice that in this thought experiment my reasoning mentions nothing about
> probabilities. I'm not interested in "my" measure, but in the measures
> of the outcomes that I care about. I think ASSA holds intuitive appeal to
> us, because historically, copying of minds isn't possible, so the measure of
> one's observer-moment and the measures of the outcomes that are causally
> related to one's decisions are strictly proportional. In that situation, it
> makes sense to continue to think in terms of subjective probabilities
> defined as ratios of measures of observer-moments. But in the more general
> case, ASSA doesn't hold up.

There is an asymmetry here because you are reasoning about a part of
the multiverse which isn't duplicated. If both you and all your
survivors were duplicated together, or if you were only interested in
some selfish reward you would obtain in the event of a "0", that would
change the problem. A discrepancy between 1st person/ 3rd person POV
is also seen in QS experiments.

Stathis Papaioannou
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Received on Wed Sep 26 2007 - 09:41:20 PDT

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