Re: Is a Person One or Many?

From: Mike Dougherty (
Date: Sun Mar 09 2008 - 21:30:56 MDT

On Sun, Mar 9, 2008 at 10:05 PM, Stathis Papaioannou <>

> - If 1000 copies of you are made in London lacking 50% of your
> memories and 10 copies are made in Paris lacking 5% of your memories,
> are you more likely to find yourself waking up in London or Paris?

I guess it depends on what part of your memories you use to identify your
Self :)

- You are offered two choices:
> (a) 100 copies of you are made in London and one copy is made in
> Paris. The Paris copy is tortured while the London copies are not
> tortured.
> (b) 100 copies of you are made in London and one copy is made in
> Paris. After an hour, the 100 copies in London are tortured while the
> copy in Paris is duplicated 100,000 times and none of these copies are
> tortured.
> Is your subjective probability of being tortured at the moment of the
> original copying greater in (a) or (b)?

How do we even measure the _degree_ of torture? If I am to identify with
every copy as myself: scenario A divides my identity 101 ways and only one
is tortured (resulting in <1% subjective torture, assuming the 100 London
copies are blissfully happy) Scenario B has a division of my identity into
100,100 parts, with 100 being tortured (<0.1% subjective torture) So it
doesn't seem to matter that scenario B has 100 times as much torture in my
future because it is statistically overwhelmed by the greater number of
copies experiencing the Not-torture option. I guess it become more
difficult to decide if each copy experiences varying degrees of torture in
their subjective futures, making the resulting best-choice calculation at
t=0 a tedious mess of prediction. I would imagine there must be some
pruning feature to make the deep search of all possible branches less
computationally expensive by giving up early on those choices that require
too much work. In that case, the greater number of copies in scenario B may
be less likely to be discovered within resource constraints because scenario
A appears to be more efficient to calculate. Consider: <1% chance of
torture that is 3 orders of magnitude less copies to consider than the
marginal 1 order of magnitude smaller chance at <0.1%

Note that there is no problem *objectively* describing what happens in
> any of these cases. Lee tries to take the objective point of view and
> translate it into the subjective point of view as well. But to do this
> would require a complete overthrow of our notions of anticipation and
> subjective probability, and I don't think this is possible without
> rewiring our brains.

I believe the rewiring our brains is part of the assumptions for this
thought experiment. I assumed the greater "run-time" offered by many copies
was only really possible in either an uploaded consciousness situation or
some massively expanded awareness of multiple worlds. In either case,
rewiring a brain would seem to be the easy part. :)

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