Charles Goodwin, <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>, writes:

> Another question is what happens in cases of very violent death,
> e.g. beheading. After someone's head is cut off, so they say, it remains
> conscious for a few seconds (I can't see why it wouldn't). According to
> QTI it experiences being decapitated but then survives indefinitely -
> somehow . . . well, I'd like to hear what QTI supporters think happens
> next (from the pov of the victim).  Are they magically translated into
> a non-decapitated version of themselves, and if so, how? Surely it can't
> be in the same quantum state that they're in? If not, do they experience
> indefinitely continued survival as a severed head, or . . . what??? Just
> curious!

The answer is very simple.  The future that is experienced is the least
unlikely that allows for continuation of consciousness.  (More precisely,
the probability distribution over those futures where you are still
alive determines the relative probability of experience given that you
find yourself alive, a tautology.)

So, your head has been cut off and clunk, you fall on the ground,
getting a nasty knock on the head, not to mention the neck soreness and
missing body.  How could you survive?  There are several alternatives.

It is possible that entropy ceases to operate in your brain, and that
you continue to think despite the loss of blood flow.  This however would
be an astronomically unlikely future.

More likely, aliens or supernatural intelligences of some sort would
intervene to keep you alive.  Alternatively, it would turn out that
you were playing a futuristic video game where you had temporarily
blanked out your memory to make it more realistic.  Then next thing
you see is "Game Over".

These possibilities makes most sense if you consider the set of all
physical systems where you have the same mental state, rather than
just the systems which are part of your corner of the QM multiverse.
There are universes where aliens are monitoring the earth, unknown to
its inhabitants, and the mental states of residents of earth in such
universes will be identical to the states of people in some other
universes without aliens.

When you find yourself with head chopped off, you don't know which
class of universe you are in.  I would argue that there is no "fact
of the matter" about it (this is our old argument about whether
your consciousness is tied to a specific instance of the many which
instantiate it).  Hence you will experience the most likely continuation
which is consistent with your mental experiences in any branch of the
QM universe which could produce that experience.

I think we all agree with the objective facts of the situation here.
For any observer moment there exist other observer moments which are
subjectively in its future (equivalently, for which it is subjectively
in the past).  The question is whether to interpret this fact as meaning
continued survival.  Ultimately that is a matter of definitions.

Hal Finney

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