Tom Caylor wrote:

Stathis wrote:
> You find yourself in a locked room with no windows, and no memory of how you got there....
> What's wrong with the reasoning here?

This is also in response to your explanation to me of copying etc. in your last post to "Many pasts?..." I think there is too much we don't know about quantum behavior vs. macro-matter (e.g. human bodies) behavior to say that copying, and subsequent diverging histories, is not like dividing by zero. I think that even if it were possible to copy a body (i.e. exactly) and have more than one copy at the same time, for the purposes of your thought-experiment why wouldn't it be the equivalent of quantum entanglement where you really have the equivalent of just the original? This is where I think the reasoning in your puzzle is flawed. Having 10^100+1 identical bodies is equivalent to having one body, so it makes it a 50/50 chance. Until the information is actually revealed, it would be just like the copying didn't happen, therefore there is no way to tell which state (copied or not copied) is currently in effect. Even though this may not be an appealing option, I believe that copying, if possible, wouldn't change anything having to do with identity (it doesn't "add to the measure"). Like Einstein said, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

In addition, even if copying a body with two subsequent diverging histories were possible, why wouldn't this become just like two different people? Who cares if there are disputes? That's nothing new. What does that have to do with consiousness? I don't believe that identity is dependent on consciousness.

The idea of "exact copying" not being consistent with QM is raised quite often on this list. The problem with this is that you don't need literally exact copying to get the same mental state. If you did, our minds would diverge wildly after only nanoseconds, given the constant changes that occur even at the level of macromolecules, let alone the quantum state of every subatomic particle. It is like saying you could never copy a CD, because you could never get the quantum states exactly the same as in the original. Brains are far more complex than CD's, but like CD's they must be tolerant of a fair amount of noise at *way* above the quantum level, or you would at the very least turn into a different person every time you scratched your head. If this does not convince you, then you can imagine that the thought experiments involving "exact" copying are being implemented on a (classical) computer, and the people are actually AI programs. Once the difficulty of creating an AI was overcome, it would be a trivial matter to copy the program to another machine (or as a separate process on the same machine) and give it the same inputs.

As for your other questions: yes, of course once the copies diverge they are completely different people. For the purposes of this exercise, however, I am assuming they *don't* diverge. In that case, I agree you have given the correct answer to my puzzle: from a first person perspective, identical mental states are the same mental state, and at any point there is a 50-50 chance that you are either one of the 10^100 group or on your own. But not everyone on this list would agree, which is why I made up this puzzle.

--Stathis Papaioannou

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