Re: adult vs. child

From: Bruno Marchal <>
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2009 19:24:38 +0100

On 10 Feb 2009, at 18:44, Brent Meeker wrote:

> Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
>> 2009/2/10 Jack Mallah <>:
>>> This sort of talk about "random sampling" and "luck" is misleading
>>> and is exactly why I broke down the roles of effective probability
>>> into the four categories I did in the paper.
>>> If you are considering future versions of yourself, in the MWI
>>> sense, there is no randomness involved. Depending on how you
>>> define "you", "you" will either be all of them, or "you" are just
>>> an observer-moment and can consider them to be "other people".
>>> Regardless of definitions, this case calls for the use of Caring
>>> Measure for decision making.
>> It seems that the disagreement may be one about personal identity. It
>> is not clear to me from your paper whether you accept what Derek
>> Parfit calls the "reductionist" theory of personal identity. Consider
>> the following experiment:
>> There are two consecutive periods of consciousness, A and B, in which
>> you are an observer in a virtual reality program. A is your
>> experiences between 5:00 PM and 5:01 PM while B is your experiences
>> between 5:01 PM and 5:02 PM, subjective time. A is being implemented
>> in parallel on two computers MA1 and MA2, so that there are actually
>> two qualitatively identical streams of consciousness which we can
>> call
>> A1 and A2. At the end of the subjective minute, data is saved to disk
>> and both MA1 and MA2 are switched off. An external operator picks
>> up a
>> copy of the saved data, walks over to a third computer MB, loads the
>> data and starts up the program. After another subjective minute MB is
>> switched off and the experiment ends.
>> As the observer you know all this information, and you look at the
>> clock and see that it is 5:00 PM. What can you conclude from this and
>> what should you expect? To me, it seems that you must conclude that
>> you are currently either A1 or A2, and that in one minute you will be
>> B, with 100% certainty. Would you say something else?
> I might say that while there are two computations, there is only one
> "stream of consciousness".

You are right, but I think that Stathis is right too. When Stathis
talks about two identical stream of consciousness, he make perhaps
just a little abuse of language, which seems to me quite justifiable.
Just give a mirror to the observer so that A *can* (but does not) look
in the mirror to see if he is implemented by MA1 or by MA2. Knowing
the protocol the observer can predict that IF he look at the mirror
the stream of consciousness will bifurcate into A1 and A2. Accepting
the Y = II rule, that is bifurcation of "future" = differentiation of
the whole story) makes the Stathis "abuse of language" an acceptable
way to describe the picture. So Stathis get the correct expectation,
despite the first person ambiguity in "two identical stream of
If two infinitely computations *never* differentiate, should we count
them as one? I am not sure but I think we should still differentiate
them. UD generates infinitely often such infinitely similar streams.
That should play a role for the relative (to observer-moment) measure
pertaining on the computations. OK?


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Received on Tue Feb 10 2009 - 13:36:43 PST

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