On 4/20/07, Jason <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:

Do you agree that under ASSA, the fact that you find yourself as an
> observer who was spared from torture should give you no relief, as
> your next OM is equally likely to sample the tortured perspective as
> it is to experience the spared perspective?

I guess the ASSA does imply that because it doesn't seem to respect the
subjective sensation of the passage of time. For example, the ASSA seems to
imply that if my measure were somehow increased a zillionfold for today
only, then I would somehow find myself stuck in today forever. ASSA
advocates might argue that as the clock strikes midnight, I will suddenly
die (again, I'm guessing, because it doesn't make a lot of sense to me). I
would expect that as the clock strikes midnight, I will notice nothing at
all unusual as I find myself alive and well on April 21, 2007. This exactly
mirrors my experience on the stroke of midnight the previous day: I notice
nothing unusual at all as I find myself alive and well as one of the zillion
copies on April 20, 2007. As long as there is a continuous path of OM's that
can be drawn on the tree mapping my duplications and mergings, it is
impossible for me (i.e., for any of the OM's at any point) to know whether I
am living a branching or a linear life. It could be happening right now.

Shouldn't you be equally
> as worried if anyone in the world (your copy or not) was to be
> tortured, as the next sampled OM could be that person's.

No, neither under ASSA nor RSSA. Suppose in the next moment God suddenly
switches my mind and body for George Bush's mind and body. Would it be best
to describe the change I experience as (a) I suddenly find myself at home
typing this email, but with George's thoughts and body, or (b) I suddenly
find myself in the White House, surrounded by people I don't recognise and
poised to sign a document I've never seen before?

Identity is determined by the content of a person's mind. Even if some
magical soul-substance existed, there is no sense in which I could suddenly
become someone who shares none of my thoughts.

RSSA has never appealed to me because I see no logical reason to link
> two observer moments from one time to another when those two observer
> moments are not the same.  Intuitively it feels that each mind is on a
> set track to only experience those OM's that follow from the birth of
> an observer, but logically there are too many problems with this.

But you do link two OM's from one time to another when those two OM's are
not the same. Your immediate successor OM contains most of the thoughts of
your previous OM, plus a little bit more. This is just a description of what
normal life feels like, whether the underlying reality is linear or

Possible problems with RSSA:
> Quantum mechanics means each observer follows multiple paths, some of
> which intersect with what might have been considered a different
> observer previously, this forms a spectrum linking all observers
> together.

If we live forever such that we have every possible experience, then we will
eventually become every possible person. However, it doesn't really matter
that in a million years my personality will be completely different and I
won't remember any of my present experiences. After all, I don't really
remember the experiences I had as an infant, and that doesn't upset me.

Time by its nature implies change, an observer's brain state is in
> different from one time to another, if the brains are different the
> observers are different.  By what rule set can two different observers
> be said to be the same?

In ordinary life, although two instances of a person many years apart might
seem completely different, there is a continuous progression whereby every
OM has a successor differing from it only marginally. This progression is
maintained even in a branching universe by following a single path along the
tree diagram. Continuity is disrupted by memory loss caused eg. by head
injury, and it is disconcerting when this happens.

Common intuition and experience play many tricks on us.  It makes us
> think that the current time (present) is special, because it is the
> only thing point in time we are aware of.  It makes us think that the
> current laws of physics and universe we see around us is special,
> because it is the only set of laws we are aware of.  I propose the
> same is true of personal identity, it makes us think that the self is
> special, because it is the only observer's perspective we are aware
> of.  For those who believe in block time, the present is no more
> special or real than any other time.  To those on the Everything list,
> the universe we perceive now is no more real than any other.  Our
> current OM remembering previous OM's experienced from the same
> observer's viewpoint creates the illusion that said observer is
> travelling into the future and bound to experience the next logical OM
> for this observer, but I hold this is only an illusion.

Indeed, but it's an *important* illusion, and I don't want anything to
happen that disrupts it. People continued behaving in much the same way they
always have despite Copernicus, Darwin, Einstein and quantum mechanics, so
why should they be upset by any radical new theory about personal identity?
Even if it turns out that the world is a simulation on some alien kid's PC
people will probably still go about their business as before, provided there
were some guarantee that the simulation wouldn't suddenly end.

ASSA is closer to a one mind/all perspectives experienced
> simultanesouly view because it removes the notion of observers that
> travel through time from one OM to the next and treats only observer
> moments.  Consider the infinite set of all OMs, by definition, the
> existance of an OM necessitates its being experienced, but without a
> multiplicity of observers who can say "who" is experiencing them?
> There is no who, just the fact that each is being experienced.  Since
> this set exists in the plentitude (which is timeless) then it follows
> that all perspectives are being experienced simultaneously.

I would agree with this last statement, but nonetheless there is at least
the *illusion* of an observer travelling through time, and it is this
illusion which most people are concerned with preserving.

The existance of a spectrum of related OM's means there is a choice in
> interpretation of this infinite OM set.  Either you can hold that each
> OM constitues its own mind, or if you believe there is any
> relationship between OM's (i.e. You experience now AND you will
> experience 10 seconds from now) then you must conclude there is only
> one mind.  This is just my viewpoint on the issue and I invite others
> to give their opinions on it and poke holes in it.

I believe that the only way to look at the situation objectively and
consistently is to say that each OM is an entity on its own, but because of
their particular content certain OM's can be grouped together to form the
illusion of a single person travelling forward through time. The illusion is
very robust in the world in which we have evolved, but duplication thought
experiments show it up in the same way as Einstein's thought experiments
showed up the illusion of absolute time.

Stathis Papaioannou

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