Why (quantum) suicide doesn't work

From: Saibal Mitra <smitra.domain.name.hidden>
Date: Tue, 1 Jan 2002 16:34:09 +0100

I am now completely convinced that attempts to witness low probability events or to travel to low measure sectors of the plenitude are doomed to failure.

The (hidden) assumption behind quantum suicide is that of continuity of consciousness: If there is only one unlikely outcome that will preserve one's consciousness, then that is what will happen as observed by the person himself.

But why should this be true? Even if the probability were exactly zero for the person's consciousness to be preserved, the person will always find himself alive somewhere in the plenitude. And therefore he will always experience his consciousness to be continuous.

As I see it, the plenitude contains a set of states a particular observer can be in. Each element has a certain a priory probability, depending on the details of the structure of the plenitude.
 If we are dealing with immortal observers, then this probability must be conserved. I.e. if an experiment has three outcomes (a, b, c), the sum of the a priory probabilities of the observer observing event a, b, and c, must equal the a priory probability of the observer being in the state before performing the experiment.

In case of a mortal observer, however, the probability is not conserved (from the observer's perspective). This is nothing but the definition of being mortal.

I claim that one might just as well consider all states the observer could possibly be in as independent, the particular state he is in drawn randomly from the a priory probability distribution. It really doesn't matter. Consciousness will stil be experienced as continiuous from the perspective of the observer. We don't have to put this in by hand. There is no such thing as a conservation of consciousness. There is a conservation of probability from the third person's perspective, which doesn't always translate into a conservation of probability from the first person's perspective.

The suicide machine thus can't work. The probability of winning the lottery, given that you have just boarded the suicide machine, is simply the a priory probability of experiencing the desired outcome divided by the a priory probability of just having boarded the suicide machine. The probability of winning is thus unaffected.

Received on Tue Jan 01 2002 - 07:36:32 PST

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