Re: Many Pasts? Not according to QM...

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Sat, 28 May 2005 15:26:24 +1000

Saibal Mitra wrote:

>You have to consider the huge number of alternative states you could be in.
>1) Consider an observer moment that has experienced a lot of things. These
>experiences are encoded by n bits. Suppose that these experiences were more
>or less random. Then we can conclude that there are 2^n OMs that all have a
>probability proportional to 2^(-n). The probability that you are one of
>these OMs isn't small at all!
>2) Considering perforing n suicide experiments, each with 50% survival
>probability. The n bits have registered the fact that you have survived the
>n suicide experiments. The probability of experiencing that is 2^(-n). The
>2^(n) -1 alternate states are all unconscious.
>So, even though each of the states in 1 is as likely as the single state in
>2, the probability that you'll find yourself alive in 1 is vastly more
>likely than in 2. This is actually similar to why you never see a mixture
>two gases spontaneously unmix. Even though all states are equally likely,
>there are far fewer unmixed states than mixed ones.

I understand your point, but I think you are making an invalid assumption
about the relationship between a random sampling of all the OM's available
to an individual and that individual's experience of living his life.
Suppose a trillion trillion copies of my mind are made today on a computer
and run in lockstep with my biologically implemented mind for the next six
months, at which point the computer is shut down. This means that most of my
measure is now in the latter half of 2005, in the sense that if you pick an
observer moment at random out of all the observer moments which identify
themselves as being me, it is much more likely to be one of the copies on
the computer. But what does this mean for my experience of life? Does it
mean that I am unlikely to experience 2006, being somehow suspended in 2005?

More generally, if a person has N OM's available to him at time t1 and kN at
time t2, does this mean he is k times as likely to find himself experiencing
t2 as t1? I suggest that this is not the right way to look at it. A person
only experiences one OM at a time, so if he has "passed through" t1 and t2
it will appear to him that he has spent just as much time in either interval
(assuming t1 and t2 are the same length). The only significance of the fact
that there are "more" OM's at t2 is that the person can expect a greater
variety of possible experiences at t2 if the OM's are all distinct.

--Stathis Papaioannou

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Received on Sat May 28 2005 - 01:29:34 PDT

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