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