On 18/09/2007, Youness Ayaita <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:

> What remains unclear in this definition is the term "reference class"
> which is also the source of the ASSA/RSSA debate. When we want to know
> which observer moment to expect "next", we look at the class of all
> observer moments provided with a measure. The ASSA applies a uniform
> measure over all observer moments, whereas supporters of the RSSA may
> for example apply the Born rule to the class of observer moments given
> by quantum theory. That's an outline of how I understand it.

One of the main issues of contention where the ASSA/RSSA distinction
has come up on this list is quantum immortality. In the situation
where your measure in the multiverse will plummet in the next moment
as the result of some disaster which will from a third person
perspective almost certainly kill you, ASSA proponents say that from a
first person perspective too you will almost certainly die, while RSSA
proponents say that from a first person perspective you will certainly
survive. The way the problem is stated - what will I experience in the
next moment? - sets the reference class: those moments of conscious
experience which could qualify as my "next moment".

> I have serious problems with this kind of reasoning. It suggests the
> misleading idea of some entity (let's call it the "self") jumping from
> one observer moment to the next. In general, this is a very
> questionable concept, of course. I feel satisfied with the idea that
> the observer moments don't come up with a measure by themselves and
> that nothing at all is jumping.

Nothing at all is jumping, but it feels as if something is jumping.
Continuity of consciousness may be an illusion, but it's an illusion
that people generally wish to continue.

> We will introduce measures for practical reasons depending on the
> problem we are concerned with. The same holds for the study of chains
> of observer moments. In each case, I will find it useful to introduce
> different concepts that will show resemblance to the ASSA or RSSA.
> 1st problem: "What will I experience next?"
> I refused the idea of the 'self' being an entity jumping between
> observer moments. So the word "I" does not refer to something fixed.
> It is a vague perception of self-identification (e.g. to be Youness
> Ayaita) that is part of the current observer moment. If we consider
> the evolution of the observer from a third person perspective (within
> our world and its usual dynamics), then we will see how the observer
> changes with time. Though, as far as his capacity for remembering did
> not disappear, the observer will still find within himself the old
> self-identification. This self-identification makes the observer have
> the feeling that his identity is something constant which is
> preserved. This feeling gives a meaningful understanding of the word
> "I" in the question of interest. By the word "I" the question
> restricts the class of observer moments to those who share the
> mentioned self-identification, e.g. to be Youness Ayaita. This class
> probably consists for the most part of observers that other observers
> would identify as Youness Ayaita, too.
> The word "next" (despite of the fact that it makes only sense in
> worlds with time) leads to a further restriction to the class of
> observer moments: The observer moment to choose must include the
> memory that the last experience was to ask the question: "What will I
> experience next?" The small subclass we have now typically corresponds
> to what we would expect from quantum theory. The measure that comes up
> with it corresponds to the Born rule.
> Nonetheless, the Born rule is not of general applicability here. For
> example, if the observer falls into coma and wakes up some years later
> or if he is frozen for some time in some futuristic machine, the
> observer moments waking up at a later time must have a nonzero measure
> as well. On the contrary, if the observer experiences a dangerous
> accident losing his capacity for remembering, the observer moment
> after the accident has a zero measure for the question of interest.
> To summarize, we see that a specific question leads to a specific
> measure. In this case, we get a result usually assigned to the RSSA.


> 2nd problem: Having had an accident that led to the loss of his
> capacity for remembering, an observer asks himself (before noticing
> his environment): "Who am I?"
> In this case, the self-identification process failed. Thus, the word
> "I" cannot be refered to a self-identification but rather to the
> identification by other observers. The class of observer moments of
> interest is restricted: We are only interested in conscious observers
> that don't have a self-identification process. Thus, in worlds similar
> to ours we would assign a non-zero measure to all observer moments
> waking up after such an accident or having lost their capability of
> self-identification due to some kind of mental illness. This measure
> has nothing in common with the quantum mechanical Born rule.
> ----
> So, I don't see any need for some kind of fundamental measure for
> observer moments. Whenever we have a restriction defining a subclass
> of observer moments that are of interest, we are naturally driven to
> the RSSA and to a specific measure. If we have no restriction, then we
> assign equal measure to all observer moments leading to the ASSA. I do
> not see the categorical difference between the two concepts. Can you
> make clear where the difference lies?

I think this puts you in the RSSA camp. ASSA proponents (as I
understand them) would consider all observer moments even where the
problem at issue would seem to restrict the reference class.

Stathis Papaioannou

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