On Wed, 2009-03-04 at 12:25 +0100, Bruno Marchal wrote:

> > The no-cul-de-sac hypothesis is false if you allow that there is some
> > means of destroying all copies in the multiverse. But there is
> > probably no such means, no matter how advanced the aliens.
>
> Indeed, that would be like if a number could make disappear another  
> number. Even a God cannot do that!

We are a collection of particles, though the exact arrangement and
constitution of such is constantly changing.  Yet, under most
circumstances, from moment to moment our instantaneous state follows a
trajectory such that this state continues to be a member of the larger
class that is "me, being conscious".  

It is again the situation of many microstates mapping to one higher
level, emergent macrostate according to some membership function, the
exact nature of which depends on your specific theory of identity.

The no cul-de-sac conjecture, more precisely, states that as the
wavefunction of our present collection of particles unitarily evolves
there will always be at least one decoherent branch of it that continues
to satisfy the macrostate membership function that is "me, being
conscious", delays and copies notwithstanding.

It is at least conceivable that the collection of particles that is me
could undergo some environmental interaction such that *all* the
following entangled branches decohere into states that do *not* map to
the emergent class of "me, being conscious."  Then I would be dead.

There are many questions/assumptions in the above line of reasoning.
What is the "macrostate membership function" that defines a set of
particles as me? As the set becomes entangled with its environment, how
and when does one decoherent branch then decohere into one or more new
branches (that are still me)? Presumably, our "digital level of
substitution" is much higher than the exact quantum state of this
collection of particles.  What microstate changes don't make a
difference, which do?

Johnathan Corgan



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