Re: Separate Copies Contribute Separately to One's Runtime

From: Thomas McCabe (
Date: Fri Mar 07 2008 - 18:35:03 MST

On Fri, Mar 7, 2008 at 7:28 PM, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
<> wrote:
> Damien Broderick wrote:
> > At 11:52 AM 3/7/2008 -0800, Eliezer wrote:
> >
> >> If you flip a fair quantum coin, have your exoself generate 100
> >> separated isomorphic copies of you conditional on the coin coming up
> >> heads, then, when (all of) you are about to look at the coin, should
> >> your subjective anticipation of seeing "heads" be 1:1 or 100:1?
> >
> > Since presumably you are not informed when you've been copied, 100:1.
> > What else could it be? There are 100 ways of seeing heads and 1 of
> > seeing tails.
> Okay, so, after I all see the coin - in an algorithmically isomorphic
> way - merge my separated copies.
> Oh, look, by briefly expending a bit of extra computing power, I can
> control the outcome of coinflips - though not in a way that any
> watcher would detect.
> Unverifiable psychic powers! I can see them, but you can't! What fun...
> --
> Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
> Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

You don't need identical copies to pull this sort of crazy stunt. Just
set up an optical recognition system to look at the coin, determine if
it landed on heads or tails, and then hook it up to a machine which
sprays you with Instant Tear Gas if it turns up tails. If it turns up
heads, you will see the coin and conclude it landed heads up. If it
turns up tails, you will be blinded and so unable to see that it turns
up tails. If you did this in every inhabited place worldwide, every
coinflip ever observed by humans would land heads up.

You can use any number of mechanisms to influence an observer's
results; you can, for instance, set up a rig that will make an
observer always see X instead of Y. This does not mean that X always
happens, or Y never happens; we shouldn't confuse the perception of an
event with the actual event.

 - Tom

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