Re: more torture

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Tue, 14 Jun 2005 16:06:08 +1000

Saibal Mitra writes:

>Because no such thing as free will exists one has to consider three
>different universes in which the three different choices are made. The
>universes will have comparable measures. The antropic factor of 10^100 will
>then dominate and will cause the observer to find himself having made
>b) as one of the 10^100 copies in the minute without torture.

But what will happen to the observer when the minute is up?


> > I have been arguing in recent posts that the absolute measure of an
> > moment (or observer, if you prefer) makes no possible difference at the
> > first person level. A counterargument has been that, even if an observer
> > cannot know how many instantiations of him are being run, it is still
> > important in principle to take the absolute measure into account, for
> > example when considering the total amount of suffering in the world. The
> > following thought experiment shows how, counterintuitively, sticking to
> > principle may actually be doing the victims a disservice:
> >
> > You are one of 10 copies who are being tortured. The copies are all
> > run in lockstep with each other, as would occur if 10 identical
> > were running 10 identical sentient programs. Assume that the torture is
> > bad that death is preferable, and so bad that escaping it with your life
> > only marginally preferable to escaping it by dying (eg., given the
> > a 50% chance of dying or a 49% chance of escaping the torture and
> > you would take the 50%). The torture will continue for a year, but you
> > allowed one of 3 choices as to how things will proceed:
> >
> > (a) 9 of the 10 copies will be chosen at random and painlessly killed,
> > the remaining copy will continue to be tortured.
> >
> > (b) For one minute, the torture will cease and the number of copies will
> > increase to 10^100. Once the minute is up, the number of copies will be
> > reduced to 10 again and the torture will resume as before.
> >
> > (c) the torture will be stopped for 8 randomly chosen copies, and
> > for the other 2.
> >
> > Which would you choose? To me, it seems clear that there is an 80%
> > escaping the torture if you pick (c), while with (a) it is certain that
> > torture will continue, and with (b) it is certain that the torture will
> > continue with only one minute of respite.
> >
> > Are there other ways to look at the choices? It might be argued that in
> > there is a 90% chance that you will be one of the copies who is killed,
> > thus a 90% chance that you will escape the torture, better than your
> > in (c). However, even if you are one of the ones killed, this does not
> > you at all. If there is a successor observer moment at the moment of
> > subjectively, your consciousness will continue. The successor OM in this
> > case comes from the one remaining copy who is being tortured, hence
> > guaranteeing that you will continue to suffer.
> >
> > What about looking at it from an altruistic rather than selfish
> > isn't it is better to decrease the total suffering in the world by 90%
> > (a) rather than by 80% as in (c)? Before making plans to decrease
> > ask the victims. All 10 copies will plead with you to choose (c).
> >
> > What about (b)? ASSA enthusiasts might argue that with this choice, an
> > sampled randomly from the set of all possible OM's will almost certainly
> > from the one minute torture-free interval. What would this mean for the
> > victims? If you interview each of the 10 copies before the minute
> > they will tell you that they are currently being tortured and they
> > that they will get one minute respite, then start suffering again, so
> > wish the choice had been (c). Next, if you interview each of the 10^100
> > copies they will tell you that the torture has stopped for exactly one
> > minute by the torture chambre's clock, but they know that it is going to
> > start again and they wish you had chosen (c). Finally, if you interview
> > of the 10 copies for whom the torture has recommenced, they will report
> > they remember the minute of respite, but that's no good to them now, and
> > they wish you had chosen (c).
> >
> > --Stathis Papaioannou
> >
> > _________________________________________________________________
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> >
> >

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Received on Tue Jun 14 2005 - 02:07:26 PDT

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