RE: FIN insanity

From: Charles Goodwin <>
Date: Fri, 7 Sep 2001 09:14:08 +1200

Thank you for the explanation. I think FIN stands for something derogatory - possibly invented by Jaques Mallah (in much the way
that Fred Hoyle coined the term 'Big Bang' to make his opponents' views sound ridiculous, or art critics coined 'Cubism' for similar
reasons, only to see the derisively-termed ideas go on to achieve fame while the original reason for the name was forgotten). The
"IN" part of FIN is (I think) "Immortality Nonsense" - the "F" I'm not sure about although some ideas come to mind . . . so anyway,
it *is* another name for QTI.

I think the idea of continuity of consciousness between duplicates, no matter how widely separated in space, time or the multiverse,
assumes that they are (at least momentarily) in the same quantum state. According to quantum theory this means that they are
literally identical, as atoms in a Bose-Einstein condensate are identical - there is no test, even in theory, that will distinguish

The MWI postulates that the initial state of some system evolves through the schrodinger wave eqn to a continuum of derived states,
and hence that a person (for example) is continuously becoming an (uncountably infinite) number of copies, all of which have
continuity of consciousness with the original.

Of these outcomes, we typically experience the most likely, which is to say that our experiences are normally of the laws of physics
holding, including probablistic 'laws' like thermodynamics. There are SOME copies of me who are experiencing their PCs turning into
a bowl of petunias, or all the air molecules rushing out of the room, but the chances that you will be getting an email from one of
them rather than one in which things go on as normal is very unlikely - "thermodynamically unlikely".

As I understand the QTI (from your post and others) it goes on to postulate that in the event of imminent death (including the
infamous "quantum suicide" experiment) we would start to experience *unlikely* outcomes, because in all the likely ones we'd die
(which we wouldn't experience for the reasons you mention below). So if in a fit of depression I try to shoot myself, the QTI
suggests that I would experience the most likely outcome that provides continuity of consciousness. (This reminds me of a Larry
Niven story in which a race of aliens discovered the meaning of life (I forget how they managed this) and promptly committed suicide
en masse.) Of course the most likely outcome that provides continuity of consciousness is unlikely to be pleasant: if I shot myself,
I'd probably experience acquiring very bad injuries (and doctors exclaiming in delight over the opportunity to work out how someone
can survive with half his head missing).

The QTI assumes that the possibility of identical quantum states arising for any arbitrary collection of matter is 100% - which is
true in the MWI (or any infinite collection of space-time slices which have the same laws of physics). So it actually seems at least
a possible theory, given certain assumptions - but not easily testable in the sense that most theories try to be (i.e. "third person
testable", so to speak).


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jesse Mazer []
> Sent: Friday, 7 September 2001 7:21 a.m.
> To:
> Subject: RE: FIN insanity
> >From: "Charles Goodwin" <>
> >To: <>
> >Subject: RE: FIN insanity
> >Date: Fri, 31 Aug 2001 12:26:24 +1200
> >On the other hand I can't see how FIN is supposed to work, either. I
> >*think* the argument runs something like this...
> >
> >Even if you have just had, say, an atom bomb dropped on you,
> there's still
> >SOME outcomes of the schrodinger wave equation which just
> >happen to lead to you suriviving the explosion. Although
> these are VERY
> >unlikely - less likely than, say, my computer turning into a
> >bowl of petunias - they do exist, and (given the MWI) they
> occur somewhere
> >in the multiverse. For some reason I can't work out, all
> >the copies who are killed by the bomb don't count. Only the
> very very very
> >(etc) small proportion who miraculously survive do, and
> >these are the only ones you personally experience.
> >
> >Is that a reasonable description of FIN? Ignoring
> statistical arguments,
> >what is wrong with it?
> >
> >Charles
> What does FIN stand for, anyway? Is it just another version
> of the quantum
> theory of immortality? Anyway, the idea behind the QTI is not
> just that we
> arbitrarily decide copies who die "don't count," rather it
> has to do with
> some supplemental assumptions about the "laws" governing first-person
> experience, namely:
> 1. Continuity of consciousness is real (see my recent post on this)
> 2. Continuity of consciousness does not depend on spatial or temporal
> continuity, only on some kind of "pattern continuity" between
> different
> observer moments.
> I won't try to explain #1 any more for now, but I'll try
> explaining #2
> (Bruno Marchal is much better at this sort of thing).
> Basically, you want to
> imagine something like a star trek transporter, which
> disassembles me at one
> location and reassembles me at another. Will this mean that
> the original
> version of me "died" and that a doppelganger with false
> memories was created
> in his place? If computationalism/functionalism is true, it
> would seem the
> answer is no--who "I" am is a function of my pattern, not the
> particular
> particles I'm made of, so as long as the pattern is preserved
> my continuity
> of consciousness will be too (and after all, the molecules of
> my body all
> end up being totally replaced by new ones every few years
> anyway). But if
> this is true, the spatial/temporal separation of the two transporter
> chambers shouldn't matter--the imaging chamber could be on
> 21st century
> earth and the replication chamber in the Andromeda Galaxy in
> the year 5000,
> and I would still have a continuous experience of stepping
> into the imaging
> chamber and instantaneously finding myself in the replication
> chamber,
> wherever/whenever that may be.
> A naturally corrolary of this is that my stream of
> consciousness can be
> "split"--if there are two replication chambers which create
> copies of me
> just as I was when I stepped into the imaging chamber, then
> "I" before the
> experiment could experience becoming either of the two
> copies. All other
> things being equal, it seems reasonable to assume the chances of
> experiencing becoming one copy vs. the other are 50/50. But
> now suppose we
> do a similar duplication experiment, except we forget to plug
> in the second
> replication chamber, so only one "copy" is created. Should I
> assume that I
> have a 50% chance of becoming the real copy and a 50% chance
> of "finding
> myself" in an empty chamber, and thus being "dead?" That
> doesn't seem to
> make sense--after all, a duplication experiment where one
> chamber fails to
> create a copy is just like a standard Star-Trek-style
> transporter, and I
> assume that in that case I have a 100% chance of finding
> myself as the
> single "copy." But it's easy to imagine extending
> this--suppose instead of
> failing to replicate anything, the second chamber replicates
> a copy of my
> body with the brain totally scrambled, so that the body dies
> pretty rapidly.
> Do I have a 50% chance of dying in this experiment because I
> become the copy
> with the scrambled brain? If only "pattern continuity" is
> important, the
> fact that this copy has a body which resembles mine shouldn't
> matter, its
> brain-pattern doesn't resemble mine in any way so there's no
> reason I should
> become that copy.
> It's not too hard to see how all this would be analogous to
> what would be
> happening all the time in a MWI-style multiverse. Why should
> I "become"
> those copies of me who experience death in various possible
> histories? There
> shouldn't be any more danger of that than there is of me
> suddenly "becoming"
> the dead body of a complete stranger, or of finding myself in
> a universe
> where I was never born in the first place and being "dead"
> for that reason.
> So, that's the basic argument for "quantum immortality." The
> catch is in
> defining exactly what "pattern continuity" here means--what
> if a copy is
> replicated that's basically the same as me but with a few
> neurons scrambled,
> for example? Something like that happens every time I have a
> new experience,
> so it shouldn't make too much of a difference. But it's
> possible to imagine
> a continuum of cases where the pattern is more and more
> altered, until
> eventually the guy who comes out the other side is a totally
> different
> person from me, so presumably I don't have a significant chance of
> "becoming" him (although the probability of this might not be
> zero, either).
> I think questions like these show the need for some kind of
> "theory of
> consciousness" to quantify this stuff and give a specific conditional
> probability distribution for transitions from one observer-moment to
> another. I am sure others on this list would have very
> different opinions
> about what these thought-experiments show, though--some, like
> Jaques Mallah,
> might consider them a reductio ad absurdum of the whole concept of
> "continuity of consciousness."
> Jesse
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Received on Thu Sep 06 2001 - 14:11:36 PDT

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