Johnathan Corgan writes:
Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> There are many ways to escape from this scenario. If you are Tookie, you
> will find yourself shunted into increasingly less likely situations: not
> being caught in the first place; being caught but not being found
> guilty; being sentenced to death but getting off on appeal; being
> pardoned by the Governor at the last moment; finding that you are one of
> the 1/billion people who have a natural resistance to the lethal agent.
Only your last scenario is causally connected to having received a
lethal injection. What does "shunted" mean in the above? Once I
experience having had the injection, how would I get "shunted" to any of
the preceding outcomes?
I meant that looking at your future prospects, it is more likely that you
end up not facing the near-death situation in the first place, rather than
facing it and escaping somehow by the skin of your teeth (to put it mildly).
But you are right, there will be versions of you who will face situations
from which escape would appear very improbable, or near-impossible.
> If that all falls through, you might find that your arrest and execution
> was all part of a dream, or that you were actually executed but your
> head was preserved and you were resurrected as a computer upload in the
> future, or you were resurrected as a result of brute force emulation of
> every possible human mind in the very far future. These latter
> possibilities may be more likely than quantum tunneling to a tropical
> island, but in the final analysis, however unlikely the escape route may
> be, if its probability is non-zero, then it *has* to happen, doesn't it?
These scenarios are all causally connected to having been lethally
injected. But your final question goes to the heart of the issue I
raised. What is the likeliest scenario which includes the memory of
being lethally injected? Are there always non-zero probability
outcomes, which, according to MWI, must be realized somewhere?
Here is Brent Meeker's comment on this post from 16 December 2005:
Only if the number of chances has a high enough cardinality. Suppose you
are digitally generating all the continuous functions over the interval
(0,1). Your generator can come closer and closer to approximating this set
of functions, but it can't generate all of them because their cardinality
is higher than that of the integers. So is depends on what "possiblities"
means. Just "we can imagine it", or "it isn't self contrdictory" is too
loose to be meaningful.
I think when we say "anything imaginable" or "every possible experience" we
are talking about a much more limited number of things than may at first
seem to be the case. Since there are 10^10 neurons in the human brain, a
reasonable upper limit for the number of possible mental states is 2^10^10 (
if you allow that the significant factor in cognition is whether each neuron
is "on" or "off"), and a maximum upper limit is set by the Beckenstein bound
for a brain-sized object. These are very large but finite numbers, and they
will remain finite even if in the far future brains grow to the size of
Jupiter, so there should be no problem fitting every possible thought of a
finite brain into the multiverse. Of course, even if your brain is the size
of Jupiter, you will eventually start repeating mental states, but
dissatisfaction with this is dissatisfaction with being limited to "just"
every possible experience.
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