X-Message-Number: 14211
Date: Sun, 30 Jul 2000 12:29:07 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Re: Repeated Experience

Lee Corbin, #14200, says
>Okay, so you allow that repeated experience is bad if the 
>original experience is bad.  Likewise repeated experience
>is good if the original experience is good. 

Yes, but possibly not for the reasons you think.

> That is, just
>as we cannot morally identify bad identical experiences among
>themselves, so we cannot morally identify good identical
>experiences among themselves, contrary to what you seemed
>to say in your previous post.

I'm not quite sure I follow you here. What does it mean to "morally identify
... among themselves"? To say that if an experience is repeated exactly the
overall effect is no better or worse because it is identical to what has
happened before? If that's what you mean, then in one sense that is
perfectly true, i.e. an exact repetition makes it no better or worse--but
*only* if other factors are overlooked that would also come into play. Read on.

>So my hypotheical friend Tom, who has reached his Bekenstein
>Bound and now just repeats experiences, still lives, and
>rightly hopes that he'll continue to live, even indefinitely,
>and thus be immortal.

You might as well say that any being that lives once, lives forever, because
in the multiverse, its experience must be repeated infinitely many times.
And especially, if our universe is destined to last forever and to expand in
information content, etc., with the usual unpredictability in what goes on,
the experience, in a computationally equivalent form, would recur infinitely
often throughout infinite time. Your Tom would have no more "immortality"
than that, and in fact his immortality would be negated by the problem of
Eternal Return, as I've noted. He would *not* be immortal by any reasonable
(logical, not legal) standards, or else everything that ever lived is
immortal just because it once was alive--which I do not concede.  Tom's
subjective experiences would be finite, as would be 
the bad experiences of the little girl who is tortured. If that were the
only consideration, you might as well be indifferent to setting up the
conditions of torture over and over. Aleph-null (the number of times,
arguably, that each experience is instantiated) is aleph-null whether you
add one to it, double it, or even square it. BUT, I say that other
considerations come into play besides Cantorian arithmetic! The other
considerations do not affect the occurrence of some particular experience,
good or bad, i.e. *whether* it has happened and is to be instantiated
infinitely many times. But they will affect the statistical frequency, which
will have an effect on one's life, which is hopefully immortal. I think you
have some idea that when it comes to a good experience, and we are talking
of exact repetitions, somehow a subject would benefit more by having more
repetitions even if he has no awareness that the experience has been had
before, and similarly, would lose more for a bad experience repeated. From
the standpoint of his awareness alone--if  we ignore effects on other
people, etc.--that simply is not so. But it is unrealistic to ignore those
other effects, and also, to imagine a situation carefully and diabolically
contrived so that a subject is put through the same paces over and over
deliberately without knowing what is going on. (If we depend on nature
alone, any experience of significant complexity should not be exactly
repeated often.) When we take these things into account, then the usual
moral considerations gain ascendancy. By the way, a conjecture of mine is
that a being like Tom is basically an impossibility. Sooner or later, a
Tom-continuer will happen along that develops interest in retaining memories
and not just endless partying--there certainly seems a nonzero chance of it.
So immortal versions of Tom (from the Bekenstein bound standpoint) should
come into being too. And I'll go so far as to guess that the current of
opinion, among a future immortal society, will run strongly against the
live-for-the-moment mentality, so that probably such a mentality will be
rare to nonexistent.

Mike Perry

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