Stathis Papaioannou wrote:

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I have been arguing in recent posts that the absolute measure of anobserver moment (or observer, if you prefer) makes no possible differenceat the first person level. A counterargument has been that, even if anobserver cannot know how many instantiations of him are being run, it isstill important in principle to take the absolute measure into account, forexample when considering the total amount of suffering in the world. Thefollowing thought experiment shows how, counterintuitively, sticking tothis principle may actually be doing the victims a disservice:You are one of 10 copies who are being tortured. The copies are all beingrun in lockstep with each other, as would occur if 10 identical computerswere running 10 identical sentient programs. Assume that the torture is sobad that death is preferable, and so bad that escaping it with your life isonly marginally preferable to escaping it by dying (eg., given the optionof a 50% chance of dying or a 49% chance of escaping the torture andliving, you would take the 50%). The torture will continue for a year, butyou are 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,while the remaining copy will continue to be tortured.(b) For one minute, the torture will cease and the number of copies willincrease to 10^100. Once the minute is up, the number of copies will bereduced to 10 again and the torture will resume as before.(c) the torture will be stopped for 8 randomly chosen copies, and continuefor the other 2.Which would you choose? To me, it seems clear that there is an 80% chanceof escaping the torture if you pick (c), while with (a) it is certain thatthe torture will continue, and with (b) it is certain that the torture willcontinue with only one minute of respite.Are there other ways to look at the choices? It might be argued that in (a)there is a 90% chance that you will be one of the copies who is killed, andthus a 90% chance that you will escape the torture, better than yourchances in (c). However, even if you are one of the ones killed, this doesnot help you at all. If there is a successor observer moment at the momentof death, subjectively, your consciousness will continue. The successor OMin this case comes from the one remaining copy who is being tortured, henceguaranteeing that you will continue to suffer.What about looking at it from an altruistic rather than selfish viewpoint:isn't it is better to decrease the total suffering in the world by 90% asin (a) rather than by 80% as in (c)? Before making plans to decreasesuffering, 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 OMsampled randomly from the set of all possible OM's will almost certainly befrom the one minute torture-free interval. What would this mean for thevictims? If you interview each of the 10 copies before the minute starts,they will tell you that they are currently being tortured and they expectthat they will get one minute respite, then start suffering again, so theywish the choice had been (c). Next, if you interview each of the 10^100copies they will tell you that the torture has stopped for exactly oneminute by the torture chambre's clock, but they know that it is going tostart again and they wish you had chosen (c). Finally, if you intervieweach of the 10 copies for whom the torture has recommenced, they willreport that they remember the minute of respite, but that's no good to themnow, and they wish you had chosen (c).

`If you impose the condition I discussed earlier that absolute probabilities`

`don't change over time, or in terms of my analogy, that the water levels in`

`each tank don't change because the total inflow rate to each tank always`

`matches the total outflow rate, then I don't think it's possible to make`

`sense of the notion that the observer-moments in that torture-free minute`

`would have 10^100 times greater absolute measure. If there's 10^100 times`

`more water in the tanks corresponding to OMs during that minute, where does`

`all this water go after the tank corresponding to the last OM in this`

`minute, and where is it flowing in from to the tank corresponding to the`

`first OM in this minute?`

Jesse