Bruno Marchal writes:

> > rather, it has been so fundamental to our evolution that it has a 
> > tenacity at the visceral level that is only otherwise seen in the 
> > delusions of the psychotic patient. But evolution has not had to cope 
> > with teleportation, mind duplication, duplication with partial amnesia 
> > in one copy, partial or complete mind merging, and all the other 
> > fantastic possibilities which may or may not one day be realised.
> ... or which have already been realised. And perhaps "Nature" bet on it 
> all the time. Our brains witness the importance of quick adaptation. 
> Now I don't think the third person and first person "self" is 
> necessarily a delusion, but its unicity could be (for some). The same 
> holds for the MWI.

Obviously, if the MWI is true, then we have evolved to adapt to conditions in 
the multiverse, but evolution where multiple copies are extant in the *same* 
world would be very different. 

> > If it had (or if it will, in the far future), we might be left with a 
> > view of personal identity something like that espoused by Lee Corbin, 
> > where each copy is regarded as "self" and the (selfish) aim of life is 
> > not to preserve a single linear temporal sequence of related copies, 
> > but to maximise the total number of copies, even at the cost of a 
> > single individual's death.
> Eventually Corbin accepted the first person indeterminacy. Unlike 
> people like Chalmers who thinks the first person can split (which 
> explained why he needs to defend dualism in the philosophy of mind).
> With comp there is a definite answer for the notion of personal 
> identity: it is a personal question no "others" can solve for you.

We have deal with this first person indeterminacy in the face of third person 
determinacy at some level. I would argue that it is based on an illusion: that 
you are a single conscious entity travelling through time. When you are 
introspecting here-and-now, that is something unique and personal, which cannot 
be captured by a third person description, no matter how complete. But when you 
consider your future, you are actually making a third person assessment of 
someone else's first person experience; and when your future self recalls his 
past, he is doing the same thing.  
> >  Returning to the question of teleportation and probabilities, I would 
> > say that objectively there is only one unequivocal answer: you don't 
> > survive the experiment at all,
> Ok, but do you agree that, keeping comp in front of such a statement, 
> it means we are dying each night, or even at each instant?
> Of course with comp we cannot know that, nor can we know when we are 
> split, although we can believe it from thrid person available clue 
> (being the two slit experiment or some concrete doppelganger).

Yes, that's exactly what I believe - although it certainly isn't what I *feel*, 
and it isn't what I base my behaviour on. The illusion of being a single entity 
travelling through time is maintained due to a sense of psychological 
continuity, which is in turn maintained by physical activity in my brain which 
varies within an ultimately arbitrary set of constraints. A future self might 
not have a single atom or a single mental attribute in common with a past self, 
might even have arrived at the latter state discontinuously, yet still consider 
himself the "same" person. Dying each night and being replaced with an exact 
copy is a rather mild change compared to what happens normally in the course of 
a person's life.

> > but people who look like you and believe they are you materialise in 
> > Washington, Sydney and Beijing with P=1. Subjectively, I would try 
> > to apply the (delusional, or may as well be delusional) belief that 
> > you are a single person persisting through time as best as I can to 
> > the unnatural situation. I think that the best answer in the two-step 
> > teleportation (Br..>W,M; M..>S,Be) is that you should expect P(W)=1/2, 
> > P(S)=P(Be)=1/4. I prefer this to an equal P of 1/3 for each 
> > destination city because (again, due to our evolved psychology, not 
> > because it is the "truth") we anticipate all possible candidates for 
> > the "next moment", but once this next moment arrives, all the other 
> > concurrent copies become irrelevant, and the only thing that matters 
> > is the *next* next moment. Consistent with this method, if there is 
> > complete amnesia for all that happens in Moscow, it is as if that 
> > stage has not occurred, and from Br you can anticipate arriving in W, 
> > S and Be with equal probability. In the case of intermediate levels of 
> > amnesia in Moscow, I suppose this would yield intermediate 
> > probabilities. However, I'm not very confident about this, because our 
> > minds are simply not made to deal with the situation.
> That is why we do mathematics and logic. To escape our "historical" 
> prejudices and handle counterintuitive propositions. Like in 
> contemporary physics.

Yes, and it is always good to try to explain things scientifically where 
possible. Unfortunately - and I am not saying this is definitely the case here 
- the peculiarities of human psychology do not always lend themselves to 
scientific analysis.

Finally, a variation on the type of thought experiments we have been discussing 
(I'd be surprised if someone hasn't already brought this up sometime, but I 
don't recall seeing it). We agree that if someone spends a minute in Brussels, 
then is destructively teleported to Washington, where he spends another minute, 
he will experience two minutes of continuous consciousness, the first minute in 
Brussels and the second minute in Washington, even if there is a delay between 
the disintegration and rematerialisation. But what if, somehow, the minute's 
experience in Brussels were run simultaneously with the minute's experience in 
Washington, just as they would have happened consecutively, and then the person 
in Brussels instantly disintegrates. We could even arrange it so that the 
minute in Washington objectively precedes the minute in Brussels, as Greg Egan 
does with uploaded beings in "Permutation City". Would the subject experience 
the same linear progression of time in either case? Would there be a moral 
problem with "killing" the subject in Brussels which was not an issue with the 
"normal" teleportation?

Stathis Papaioannou
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