Jesse Mazer wrote:

[quoting Stathis]
You are one of 10 copies who are being tortured. The copies are all being run in lockstep with each other, as would occur if 10 identical computers were running 10 identical sentient programs. Assume that the torture is so bad that death is preferable, and so bad that escaping it with your life is only marginally preferable to escaping it by dying (eg., given the option of a 50% chance of dying or a 49% chance of escaping the torture and living, you would take the 50%). The torture will continue for a year, but you 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 will increase to 10^100. Once the minute is up, the number of copies will be reduced to 10 again and the torture will resume as before.

(c) the torture will be stopped for 8 randomly chosen copies, and continue for the other 2.

Which would you choose? To me, it seems clear that there is an 80% chance of escaping the torture if you pick (c), while with (a) it is certain that the torture will continue, and with (b) it is certain that the torture will continue with only one minute of respite.

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?

As I understood your model, the tanks have constant volume over time (because net inflow matches net outflow), but you never said they all had the same volume. If they did, every OM would have the same absolute measure, so why bother with the idea of absolute measure at all?

It appears that we both believe that any individual's consciousness will continue indefinitely, or, as you say in a later post in the current thread, "death only exists from a third person perspective". However, I don't really understand the mechanism whereby you believe this will happen. Perhaps you could tell me where we differ:

My understanding of observer moments is that, unlike the water molecules in your tanks, they are *always* created and destroyed. The observer's experience of continuity of consciousness over time results from the stringing together of OM's which are related in the following way: at a particular OM in an observer's stream of consciousness, the "next moment", or successor OM, can be any OM which identifies itself with that observer, shares the observer's memories up to that point, and fits in as a continuation of the previous OM's thoughts. (These criteria are necessarily somewhat loose, accounting for situations such as waking up with retrograde amnesia after a head injury.)

Death (from the first person perspective) can be defined as occuring when there is no successor OM, anywhere or ever. As long as there remains even one successor OM, be it in another Galaxy, a parallel universe, or whatever, the stream of consciousness will continue indefinitely. In the multiverse (or larger mathematical structure containing the multiverse), there will always be a successor OM; hence, the quantum immortality idea.

You may agree with at least some of the above, but it looks like you may have a problem with my 10^100 copies, which I propose are created, live for a minute, then are destroyed. Didn't I just say death can't happen from a first person perspective? Going by the definition of death above, if the copies are to really die, there would have to be no successor OM anywhere or ever (which in this case means the self contained model universe of the thought experiment). But clearly, there *is* a successor OM. As the end of the minute approaches, the copies know that the torture is going to start again. The fact that there is a mismatch between the number of instantiations during the minute and after (10^100 -> 10) doesn't make any difference. This is what the purpose of the thought experiment was: to show that the absolute measure, which is proportional to the number of instantiations of a given OM, cannot make any first person difference. If it could, then option (c) would be the worst choice, reducing the measure of tortured OM's by 80%, while (a) would reduce it by 90% and (b) by almost 100%. If you chose (a) or (b) on this basis, you would be guaranteeing that you will experience a year of torture.

--Stathis Papaioannou

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