Quantum suicide and immortality

From: ZeroSum <ingram.domain.name.hidden>
Date: Sun, 10 May 2009 01:47:54 -0700 (PDT)

The Wiki article "Quantum suicide and immortality" (http://
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_suicide_and_immortality) states:

"Also, the philosopher David Lewis, in "How Many Lives Has
Schrödinger's Cat?", remarked that in the vast majority of the worlds
in which an immortal observer might find himself (i.e. the subset of
quantum-possible worlds in which the observer does not die), he will
survive, but will be terribly maimed. This is because in each of the
scenarios typically given in thought experiments (nuclear bombing,
Russian roulette, etc.), for every world in which the observer
survives unscathed, there are likely to be far more worlds in which
the observer survives terribly disfigured, badly disabled, and so on.
It is for this reason, Lewis concludes, that we ought to hope that the
many-worlds interpretation is false."

David Lewis' statement cuts to the core of the nature of
consciousness. If each conscious observer on planet Earth (and let's
assume the laws of physics don't limit consciousness to humans but
includes any sentient animal life form) exists in "Many Worlds" (see
Wiki topic on physicist "Hugh Everett III" at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_Everett)
then Houston, we've got a problem.

The human population alone is over 06 billion conscious observers. Each
observer can cause branching into an unfathomably huge number of
parallel universes (or perhaps an infinite number). Everyone else, in
addition to an incomprehensibly large number of people only born in
some parallel universes, branches into their own parallel universes,
extrapolating logically from the "Many Worlds" theory. Each one of us
is essentially forced to consciously exist in parallel universes that
continue coming into existence as the result of the actions of every
other conscious observer on this planet. Include conscious non-human
observers (animal and who knows what else) and Houston, we've got a
really big problem... or is it really a problem?

Instead of using this line of thinking to debunk the "Many Worlds"
interpretation, I think this isn't such a big problem as it initially

For one thing, consider sleep walking.

Sleep walkers can appear conscious, carry on conversations, drive
automobiles and operate machinery, essentially do things they can do
in the awake state. Only when they're sleep walking, they do not
remember those minutes or hours they did all these things. In essence
they "fast forwarded" through those events, even though other
observers may have carried on coversations with them, witnessed them
driving an automobile or doing other things, all the time thinking
these sleepwalkers were wide awake and conscious.

Suppose our existences in parallel universes is similar to if we were
sleepwalking? Suppose we are not conscious observers in those parallel
universes, but other conscious observers believe we are conscious as
well? Suppose others in this parallel universe we are in, are
similarly sleepwalking in that they are not conscious in this parallel
universe (but are conscious in another)? That leads to interesting
possibilities and questions. Do we somehow "choose" the parallel
universe where we are consciously present and awake? Do people close
to us likely "choose" to be present and conscious in the same parallel
universe we are present and conscious in, so in our relationship with
them, we're not talking to someone who is sleepwalking and really not
conscious? When we are in a parallel universe where we are not
consciously present, does this mean the human brain operates the body
like a biological machine, similarly to unconscious human-like
androids in the movie "I, Robot" that one could swear are real
sentient people?

The questions snowball along this line of thinking, as one wonders if
our consciousness moves from one parallel universe to another? If we
don't like our lives or the way the world has become, could our
consciousness latch on to another more favorable timeline while the
sleepwalking unconscious version of ourselves continues in the
parallel universe we consciously departed from? What mechanism causes
this change? Is it intensely wishing for a different outcome in our
lives, or a different world where the recession ended?

If each observer on this planet is capable of spawning branching
parallel universes, are there unconscious sleepwalking versions of us
in an infinite number of timelines? This leads to a very scary
question, could our consciousness "wake up" in some bazaar timeline
caused by other conscious observers, a place where we do not want to
exist? When we open our eyes in the darkness of our bedrooms, look at
the clock radio and breathe a sigh of relief that we were only
dreaming, is it possible what we just experienced wasn't a dream but a
conscious observance looking at another parallel universe from the
perspective of Schrödinger's Cat?

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Received on Sun May 10 2009 - 01:47:54 PDT

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