Jonathan Colvin writes:
> You are sitting in a room, with a not very nice man.
>
> He gives you two options.
>
> 1) He'll toss a coin. Heads he tortures you, tails he doesn't.
>
> 2) He's going to start torturing you a minute from now. In the meantime, he
> shows you a button. If you press it, you will get scanned, and a copy of you
> will be created in a distant town. You've got a minute to press that button
> as often as you can, and then you are getting tortured.

I understand that you are trying to challenge this notion of "subjective
probability" with copies.  I agree that it is problematic.  IMO it is
different to make a copy than to flip a coin -  different operationally,
and different philosophically.

What you need to do is to back down from subjective probabilities and
just ask it like this: which do you like better, a universe where there
is one of you who has a 50-50 chance of being tortured; or a universe
where there are a whole lot of you and one of them will be tortured?
Try not to think about which one "you" will be.  You will be all of them.
Think instead about the longer term: which universe will best serve your
needs and desires?

There is an inherent inconsistency in this kind of thought experiment
if it implicitly assumes that copying technology is cheap, easy and
widely available, and that copies have good lives.  If that were the
case, everyone would use it until there were so many copies that these
properties would no longer be true.

It is important in such experiments to set up the social background in
which the copies will exist.  What will their lives be like, good or
bad?  If copies have good lives, then copying is normally unavailable.
In that case, the chance to make copies in this experiment may be a
once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  That might well make you be willing to
accept torture of a person you view as a future self, in exchange for
the opportunity to so greatly increase your measure.

OTOH if copying is common and most people don't do it because the future
copies will be penniless and starve to death, then making copies in this
experiment is of little value and you would not accept the greater chance
of torture.

This analysis is all based on the assumption that copies increase measure,
and that in such a world, observers will be trained that increasing
measure is good, just as our genes quickly learned that lesson in a
world where they can be copied.

Hal Finney

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