I totally agree with you that science, when you really start getting into
the implications of things like QM (and relativity for that matter),
provides some rather unsettling (and yet very exciting!) conclusions. And
yet... they always rest on the tip of uncertainty. Either that, or else the
conclusions are so terrible that I can't bear to think of them.
Like, for example, you mention the idea of "universalism," the idea that
all minds are fundamentally connected. This has always been a very strong
intuition with me ever since I had a "religious conversion" type experience
in my teens. Finding this list was a wonderful moment, because it appeared
that the implications of comp reinforced this intuition. BUT... on the
other hand, ethically, I hate the idea that my mind and the mind of, say,
Josef Stalin, are linked in any way, and the more I learn about the
enormity of various acts of evil and violence, the more I feel OK with the
idea that maybe death qua oblivion really isn't such a bad thing after all,
but is instead a kind of mercy that is bestowed upon us.
I guess I just have some trouble squaring my metaphysical curiosities (that
tend to pull me way out into the stratosphere) with my ethical demands and
expectations (that tend to reign in my speculations).
Do I make any sense?
On Wednesday, January 15, 2014 11:55:27 PM UTC-5, Jason wrote:
> There is a "glass half empty" and "glass half full" way of looking at it.
> It may be that every time you get on a plane, you are certain in some
> fraction of resulting future states, to experience it crashing. But you are
> also guaranteed (and in a much larger fraction) to make it safely. When
> someone dies, especially a young person dies, what makes it so tragic is
> the unrealized potential, the experiences they never got to have or make.
> But under many-worlds, that potential is realized, and those experience are
> had, only in other branches. Consider that in many branches, each of us has
> died at times where we were younger than we are now, and certainly our
> family in other branches would have mourned what they perceived as your
> death. But you are alive, here and now, despite their opinion.
> I think science seems depressing only on the surface, when one doesn't try
> to explore the implications of all the theories to their logical ends.
> Quantum immortality may seem to imply the horrible fate of aging forever,
> but this ignores the implications of the computational theory of mind, the
> simulation argument, universalism, etc. Though the odds that we exist in a
> computer simulation might be high or might be low, certainly it seems the
> odds are higher than living to 200 years without some form of intervention.
> So in many of the possible continuations where your "physical" life ends,
> at say a normal age, your life continues in the virtual world in which some
> being chose to live as you, in a "game world". This implies a type of after
> life not unlike those in various religions, where you can take your
> memories with you and you can reunite with others with whom you crossed
> paths in the previous life.
> Just from arithmetical realism, there exist ultra-intelligent, god-like
> minds with access to unlimited computational power. For all intents and
> purposes they are "Gods", with the power to explore the rest of reality,
> and even copy and paste beings from other "physical universes" into its own
> realm. Perhaps out of good-will, for introducing suffering as a process of
> simulating physical worlds with conscious life in them, it extends an
> after-life of its choice to the beings instantiated in the course of that
> simulation. This may be an outlandish speculation, but it follows directly
> from arithmetical realism, programs that do exactly this exist already.
> Finally, with universalism (the only theory of personal identity that does
> not fail in the face of the overwhelming probability against you ever being
> born in the first place), we can realize that all conscious moments equally
> belong to us all. There will never be a moment that you are not alive so
> long as there is life, somewhere, anywhere. In that sense, we are each of
> the universal soul, though most of us have forgotten our true nature. But
> since our consciousness continues forever, we are all on a path that will
> eventually lead home again. Until we decide to jump back in and do it all
> over again. (Not unlike Lila
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lila_%28Hinduism%29 )
> I think our current theories lead us back to various ideas most would say
> belong exclusively to religion, such as: eternal life, immortality,
> reincarnation, resurrection and afterlives, a self existent ground of all
> being, a universal soul, and divine union. Perhaps all of these ideas is
> wrong, but each one is supported by one or more separate scientific
> theories, many of them being well-established.
> Special relativity -> block time -> eternal life: we each exist forever
> embedded in our own time, our consciousness is not extinguished when some
> present marches on without us, rather we are alive now despite the opinions
> of our descendants 2,000 years from now, despite that they might think we
> are long dead. They are also are equally alive and experiencing their time
> according to block time.
> Quantum mechanics -> many worlds -> quantum immortality: we are each
> subjectively immortal, we effectively each live an infinite number of
> lives, and there is no end to one's consciousness.
> Mechanism + Infinite universe (cosmic inflation, string theory,
> many-worlds, arithmetical realism) -> consciousness is copyable -> FPI ->
> reincarnation: whenever the state of your mind becomes sufficiently simple,
> it is bound to intersect the state of some other mind elsewhere in the
> infinite reality. A dying brain or a brain falling asleep can reach the
> same state as a brain developing on a womb or one waking up. This provides
> an escape from the eternal aging implied by many worlds.
> Technological Singularity + Simulation Argument -> mind uploading ->
> immortality for whole civilizations: and the ability for them (or
> super-intelligences they create) to explore reality through simulation.
> Again, if the universe is infinite, then some of the explanations for your
> current moment of awareness right now is as the "dream" of a being who
> explores possibilities, limited only by their ability to imagine. If each
> "post biological" person experiences just a few hundred lives over the
> course of their possibly billions of years of existence, then it is more
> likely you are one of them, then the biological person you believe yourself
> to be. (In another sense, you are already both of them, and after the death
> of the biological copy the post-biological one will remain).
> Arithmetical realism, Universalism -> all minds are ultimately connected
> -> we each experience an infinite number of lives and afterlives, all lives
> in fact
> Far from being depressing I find such speculations awe inspiring.
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