RE: Copies Count

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Tue, 21 Jun 2005 12:40:02 +1000

Hal Finney writes:

>So let me try an interesting variant on the experiment. I think someone
>else proposed this recently, the idea of "retroactive causation".
>I won't put that exact spin on it though.
>Suppose you will again be simultaneously teleported to Washington
>and Moscow. This time you will have just one copy waking up in each.
>Then you will expect 50-50 odds. But suppose that after one hour,
>the copy in Moscow gets switched to the parallel computer so it is
>running with 10 times the measure; 10 copies. And suppose that you know
>beforehand that during that high-measure time period (after one hour)
>in Moscow you will experience some event E.
>What is your subjective probability beforehand for experiencing E?
>I think you agreed that if you had been woken up in Moscow on
>the super-parallel computer that you would expect a 90% chance of
>experiencing E. But now we have interposed a time delay, in which your
>measure starts off at 1 in Moscow and then increases to 10. Does that
>make a difference in how likely you are to experience E?

Again, it's a two step process, each time considering the next moment.
First, 50% chance of waking up in either Moscow or Washington. Second, 100%
chance of experiencing E in Moscow or 0% chance of experiencing E in
Washington. The timing is crucial, or the probabilities are completely
different. Russell Standish realised this in his response to my green/red
light puzzle. To summarise, God places you in a room with a light changing
colour every 10 minutes, corresponding with a high measure state (10^100
copies of you, say green) and a low measure state (one copy of you, say
red), but you don't know which colour is which. In my original wording, I
said you don't remember how you got there and only after you notice the
light changing colour over several cycles do you see God's explanatory note.
Now, if you have to guess which colour corresponds with with which state,
you may as well toss a coin, because your experience is that you spend half
your time red and half green; or, to put it differently, when you anticipate
the next moment when the light is about to change colour, there is a 50%
chance you will be in the high measure state and a 50% chance you will be in
the low measure state, from the symmetry of the situation from your 1st
person perspective. But Russell's answer was that if you remembered what
colour the light was when you first arrived in the room, that would almost
certainly have been the high measure state. The reason this is so different
is that when you consider your next moment when God is about to put you in
the room, you have to take both possibilities into account simultaneously
rather than sequentially, and there are 10^100 times as many ways the light
could end up green as red. This is the error people make when they say that
you are more likely to find yourself living in a period of high measure
(when you are younger) than low measure (when you are millions of years
old), as an objection to QTI. It isn't valid to shuffle all the OM's from
all time periods and draw one at random, except when considering your
initial introduction into the world. Once you are already alive, you have to
pay attention to the special way our minds create continuity of
consciousness from moment to moment.

>I am wondering if you think it makes sense that you would expect a 50%
>probability of experiencing events which take place in Moscow while
>your measure is 1, but a 90% probability of experiencing events like
>E, which take place while your measure is 10? I'm not sure about this
>myself, because I am skeptical about this continuity-of-identity idea.
>But perhaps, in your framework, this would offer a solution to the
>problem you keep asking, of some way to notice or detect when your
>measure increases.
>In that case we would say that you could notice when your measure
>increases because it would increase your subjective probability of
>experiencing events.

I think the subjective probability stays the same, for the above reasons. I
consider my next moment: what are the possibilities? What is the relative
proportion of each possibility? It's probably easiest to visualize with a
tree diagram, or with the game I suggested in my post "objections to QTI".
You can't just mix up all the OM's from different time periods and hope to
make sense of it.

>Perhaps we could even go back to the thought experiment where you have
>alternating days of high measure and low measure. Think of multiple
>lockstep copies being created on high measure days and destroyed on low
>measure days. Suppose before beginning this procedure you flip a quantum
>coin (in the MWI) and will only undergo it if the coin comes up heads.
>Now, could you have a subjective anticipation of 50% of experiencing the
>events you know will happen on low-measure days, but an anticipation of
>90% of experiencing the events you know will happen on high-measure days?
>Then that would be a tangible difference, and you would be justified in
>pre-arranging your affairs so that pleasant events happen on the high
>measure days and unpleasant ones happen on the low measure days.

No, I think your expectations should be the same if we're talking about
consecutive days, for the above reasons.

--Stathis Papaioannou

Donít just search. Find. Check out the new MSN Search!
Received on Tue Jun 21 2005 - 00:28:53 PDT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Feb 16 2018 - 13:20:10 PST