Lee Corbin writes (replying to Jesse Mazer):

> Obviously my sadness is not because the death of the copy here
> means that there are only 10^10^29 - 1 copies of that person...

By the way, this figure 10^10^29 is a *distance*. It is, according
to Tegmark, very approximately how close in terms of meters the
nearest exact copy of you who is reading this is.  (And it doesn't
matter whether one uses meters or lightyears.)

A strange fact: when you get up to numbers that big, a light year is as many times bigger than a metre as it always is, but the double exponential notation makes the difference between the two look negligible. Can anyone say how widely accepted Tegmark's infinite universe model is amongst cosmologists?

Let me resort to another torture experiment. Suppose that I invite
you into my house, take you down to the torture chamber, and allow
you to look through a tiny peephole inside the entire steel-encased
chamber. You see some Nazis torturing a little girl, and her screams
are reproduced electronically so that you hear them.

You are appalled. You beg me to dissolve the chamber and put an end
to the atrocity. But then I say the following peculiar thing to you:
"Ah, but you see, this is an *exact* molecular---down to the QM
details---reenactment of an incident that happened in 1945. So you
see, since it's identical, it doesn't matter whether the little girl
suffers once or twice."

This brings up an interesting conundrum that I raised three or four torture experiments ago. Given 10 instantiations of a person having an unpleasant experience E (in the terminology of mild-mannered Hal Finney, who eschews torture even in thought experiments), for example 10 sentient programs running in parallel, is it better, if we aim to reduce suffering, to (a) terminate 9 of the 10 programs and leave one still running and experiencing E, or (b) stop 5 of the 10 programs from experiencing E, but leave them running, and leave the other 5 programs continuing to experience E? (Assume for the sake of argument that, as with dogs, painless termination is better than continuing to live with pain. Why we automatically assume this for dogs but not for humans is another question.)

If you do the total suffering equation assuming that each instantiation is separate, (a) is better. But I would argue that if you are one of the suffering victims, (a) does you no good at all: subjectively, you will continue to suffer, since the one remaining program that is running will serve as continuation for any of the 9 terminated ones. In fact, there is no way for someone inside the simulated system to know that any of the instantiations had been terminated, as long as at least one keeps running. On the other hand, with (b) there is subjectively a 50% probability that your suffering will end. If you simply added up the total number of instantiations and attempted to minimise the number experiencing E, you would be doing the victim(s) a great disservice. Whether you say there is one victim or 10 to begin with is a moot point, but the conclusion still stands.

--Stathis Papaioannou

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