Hal Finney wrote:
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I took the liberty of copying a few paragraphs from James Joyce's
book describing the causalist argument in Newcomb's Paradox. This is
the best statement of the argument for taking both boxes that I have
seen. I also included a short response of my own, which describes an
alternate way of viewing the paradox based on multiverse models.
It is at http://www.finney.org/~hal/Newcomb.html.

Hal Finney


In my opinion both evidentialist argument and causalist argument are faulty.

First let me say that there is no paradox from the experimenter point of view. He is so smart and knows your own mind so well that he can make accurate deterministic prediction of your decision to the test. One could compare the experimenter to a very smart programmer and the subject to an  AI system that the programmer has programmed. It is clear that if the programmer knows every line of code, has performed several a-priori simulations and had the opportunity of many debugging sessions with the system, he knows exactly how the AI system will behave in the experimental situation. He can therefore be confident in inputting in the system the fact that he knows how the system will react in the Newcomb experiment. 

Therefore, the only apparent paradox is from the point of view of the subject of the experiment (or from the point of view of the program).The paradox illustrates several things:
1) Causality is an illusion that depends on the state of mind of the observer: The Newcomb experimenter does not perceive any violation in the causal order. His world, including the subject of the experiment, is purely deterministic. Yet the Newcomb subject is faced in the apparent violation of the temporal causal order. The behavior of the experimenter is inconsistent from the subject's perspective, according to the set of axioms and rules governing the subject's mind.
2) Free Will also depends on the frame of mind of the observer. In the Programmer/Program analogy, it is clear that the program has no free will. Its operation is purely deterministic.
3) Even consciousness is questionable. Is the AI progam conscious? According to whom? To the AI program itself? Yes! To the programmer? No!

What would I do If I was the subject of the experiment. The answer is that I wouldn't  really care one way or another about picking one or two box because I would know then that the world is inhabited by a super being and that he is the one who really calls the shot. I could actually refuse to play, just to prove that I have free will and this is an outcome the experimenter would not have predicted. Having free will would definitely be more important to me than a million dollars. If I was the program, I would make sure that the programmer still has a lot of debugging to do with me! :-)

George


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