Re: The role of consciousness (Re: The GLUT and functionalism)

From: Stathis Papaioannou (
Date: Tue Apr 08 2008 - 06:37:52 MDT

On 08/04/2008, Matt Mahoney <> wrote:

> > The process of walking from A to B results in the copy at A painlessly
> > vanishing from the universe and another copy appearing at B. This is
> > what ordinary survival from moment to moment is all about. So if a
> > form of transport such as destructive teleportation reproduces this
> > process, I wouldn't worry about it. But if some new form of walking is
> > discovered which leaves a copy at A to be slowly crushed, which is
> > equivalent to your non-destructive teleportation scenario, that would
> > be worrying indeed. This is because with two copies extant at the same
> > time, I have a subjectively 1/2 chance of becoming either of the two.
> > In a sense I don't really "become" my copy even if there's only one of
> > them, but I feel as if I do because that's the way my brain has
> > evolved to think.
> No, this is the same problem as the quantum coin. Subjective expectation for
> rational agents requires multiple trials and counting outcomes. If you are
> copied 100 times when a coin comes up heads, then there is a subjective 99%
> chance of heads because after multiple trials that is what you are most likely
> to remember. In the case of teleportation I end up at point B every time,
> independent of the method used to kill the copy at A. If you believe you
> might be tortured, then that belief is based on faith rather than experience.
> Faith says that you are going to step into a booth and be crushed with 100%
> probability, so you will probably pay the $2. But after repeating enough
> times and always ending up at B, you will at some point decide to save the
> money.
> If you prefer, think of teleportation as equivalent to being tortured and then
> having the memory of the torture erased. This has zero utility to a rational
> agent because there is no change in mental state.

But my point was, at least teleportation where the original is
instantaneously destroyed should be uncontroversial, being more or
less equivalent to walking. Strange things happen when we grapple with
weird duplication scenarios using brains that have evolved to believe
absolutely that there can only ever be one copy of us travelling
forward through time.

Stathis Papaioannou

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