Russell Standish writes:

I think I can rephrase Kim's suggestion as follows. Rewards usually
reflect risks, people performing death-defying acts tend to be paid
handsomely, young males performing risky acts earn the admiration of
females (the James Dean stereotype), suicide bombers getting to spend
time with heavenly virgins and so on. Therefore, given QTI gives us
some guarantee that we won't experience death, then doesn't this
encourage QTI followers to do risky things?

The trouble with the notion of QTI suggesting we should all do risky things
is much the same as the argument I give against quantum suicide as a
way of winning the lottery in my book. Most of the avenues of survival
from risky actions are in fact at considerable cost to health, social
standing etc. Only if these costs were outweighed by the benefits
accrued by the risky action is it worth doing. In fact the decision
procedure is not all that different to if QTI were not true - if
anything it make risky actions somewhat less favourable, since QTI
guarantees that you experience negative outcomes from some failed
action rather than having death as a way out.


Here is a variation on the idea of linking gambling with quantum suicide (it may have been discussed before in the earlier years of this list, but I don't recall reading about it). You build an easily concealed device which will allow you to quickly and surely kill yourself when activated; for example, a ring of plastic explosive around your neck which will detonate and decapitate you when you press a button hidden in your pocket. With this device in place, you go to the gambling venue of choice and place a bet, all the while with your finger on the button and the thought in mind that if you lose the bet, you will press it. Now, whatever you think of QTI, you're not crazy, and you are unlikely to go ahead and blow your head off if you lose. But however cautious and squeamish a person you might be, the fact that you are thinking about killing yourself and are able to do so instantly must mean that there is a non-zero probability you will do so if you lose the bet. In the MWI, this means that in some small proportion of the branches in which you lose the bet, you die. The result is that from the first person perspective, since you don't experience those branches where you die, you have managed to skew the probability of winning slightly in your favour. It may not be enough to beat the house (unless you are a gambler down to his last few dollars planning to end it all anyway), but it should be possible by statistical analysis after a sufficiently large number of bets to show that something other than pure chance is at work, and thus to prove (to yourself) the same thing as the QS experiment purports to prove, in a much less messy way.

Another variation on this theme is to watch some natural random event, like the path of a fly walking up a wall. While wearing your suicide device, you stare intensely at the fly and think: "Go to the right! If you don't go to the right, I'll kill myself!" It should seem to you that you can thereby influence which way the fly walks just by thinking about it.

Stathis Papaioannou

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