Re: another puzzzle

From: Eric Cavalcanti <>
Date: Fri, 24 Jun 2005 11:23:33 +1000

On 6/23/05, Stathis Papaioannou <> wrote:
> Eric Cavalcanti writes:

> >I don't think it is that good an analogy for the following reason:
> >I don't believe that pushing a button to create a copy of me in
> >New York will increase my expectation of experiencing New York,
> >while I believe that flipping a coin to decide whether I'll take a plane
> >to New York does.
> >
> >The latter case you could describe in terms of a splitting of the
> >muiltiverse in two universes: one in which I go to New York and
> >one in which I don't. The former I would represent in terms of a
> >single universe where I will not experience New York, but only a
> >copy of me will.
> >
> >I think there is something fundamental about the fact that the copies
> >can meet *in principle*. It doesn't matter how hard it is, how far
> >away you put them, or how controlled you do it. All it matters for me
> >is that they could, in principle, communicate. In this case I don't believe
> >I could have a first person expectation of being in New York.
> Eric2 finds himself in New York:
> E2- Wow! It worked after all! I really am in New York!
> E1- You might be in New York, but I haven't gone anywhere, and I'm the
> original.
> E2- How can you demonstrate that you have any more claim to being Eric than
> I have? I know everything Eric knows, I look like Eric, I certainly feel
> 100% certain that I'm Eric; what else could I possibly do to convince you
> than that?
> E1- But you materialised out of thin air [or whatever copies materialise out
> of], whereas nothing happened to me, I'm still here where I was. So
> obviously I'm the original!
> E2- None of that proves that you have any more claim to being Eric than I
> am, even if you could somehow show you were the "original" and I a "copy".
> However, I have some information that might interest you. The people who set
> up this duplication procedure have not been entirely honest with you. When
> the "original" Eric pushed that button, a copy was created, but locally
> rather than in New York. In fact, the copy was created in a room exactly
> like the one you are in now. Then, the original Eric flew to New York in the
> normal way. So you see, I'm the original and you are the copy!
> E1- But that's ridiculous! I feel *exactly* the same as I did before
> pressing that button; nothing at all happened to *me*, so I have to be the
> original!
> E2- So how do you think you should have felt if you were the copy? That's
> the whole idea of a functionally identical copy: no-one, neither the copy
> nor anyone else, can tell that there is any difference. And anyway, it
> happens to us all the time even without duplicating machines. Almost all the
> atoms in our body are replaced over the course of months or years. It
> happens gradually, but if it happened quickly, the effect would be that you
> would completely disintegrate and be replaced by a near-identical copy who
> thinks he is you, remembers everything you remember, etc. How is that any
> different to what has just happened to us?
> E1- For one thing, that would be different because there is only one Eric
> extant at any one time.
> E2- Which would have been the case if we were using destructive
> teleportation, where the original is destroyed in the process of scanning
> it. But you're being a bit inconsistent, aren't you? You're saying that if
> the original were destroyed and replaced with a copy, as happens in the
> course of life over time, then the copy would have the right to call himself
> the "original"; whereas if the original were not destroyed, the copy would
> not be the "original". And yet in both cases the copy would be exactly the
> same.
> E1- I don't know about "the same"; I might feel more at ease if you weren't
> around...
> E2- Oh! So now you admit that you're the copy!
> [and we could go on like this for quite a while, with no resolution to the
> problem...]

Yep, it's a hard problem, and I heard that line of argumentation hundreds of
times. But I am still not convinced that the mere fact that someone scans me
would increase my expectation of having a discontinuity of experience.

I agree that the dialogue above would happen (or not exactly, because Eric
wouldn't believe that "destructive teleportation" is "teleportation" at all. He
would say that it is homicide followed by duplication.

In fact, I believe that in your example "Eric the copy" would probably agree
that he is a copy after seing evidence of that, and would live with his life
without claiming the rights of the original. That would make him very unhappy
and confused, of course, and then "Eric the original" would pity him and help
him as he would help a twin brother.

Furthermore, there is always some way to tell the difference between the
copy and the original, in principle, even if that infomation is not
available to the subjects themselves. If the original flew to New York, then he
would have interacted with the environment in a completely different way than if
he stayed in the room, and that interaction deposits information about his
trajectory in the environment in an irreversible manner.

I believe that the solution is not 3-rd person communicable. I believe that if
I press the button 100 times, I'll never experience leaving the room, but
there will be 100 copies of me claiming otherwise. That is because I believe
that my 1-st person probability (in the sense of degree of belief) in this case
is NOT equal to the fraction of functionally identical copies. I believe
that my first person expectation is not measurable by 3rd parties.

The only way I can be convinced otherwise is by doing the test. But then you
would never know, because empirically (for 3rd parties) the result would be
the same in either case.

I know that sounds somewhat solipsist in the end, but I can't believe
that merely scanning me can affect my future. And I would like to
be convinced otherwise, because I don't like solipsism.

Received on Thu Jun 23 2005 - 21:25:30 PDT

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