X-Message-Number: 24965
Date: Mon, 01 Nov 2004 23:59:22 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Re: Probability of resurrection alternatives is meaningless?
References: <>

Mike Price, #24959, writes in part

>Mike Perry makes a good point with his analogy between
>infinitely scarce techno-Hells and being released from a Poeian
>Hell by the flip of a coin, on a daily basis.  Yes, I too might
>accept such a sentence in return for a million pounds (or even
>But I think there is a fundamental difference between being in
>a situation where you know the objective future branch
>probabilities (i.e. release from the "Pit and the Pendulum"
>scenario based on a coin flip) and trying to assign prior
>probabilities or weights to where subjectively you seem to
>end up after being copied, which Universal Resurrection
>requires.  Do probabilities exist in the UR scheme?
>What I mean by this is: if your consciousness is copied, and
>then diverges, can you assign a prior subjective probability
>to each subsequent branch of your world-line, of
>"ending up in it"?

It seems to me we are actually doing that in the dungeon example, or it 
could be modified slightly and we'd be doing it. For example, we could 
require the subject be unconscious when the coin is tossed. Maybe 
cryonically suspended, nanoscopically disassembled, then reassembled, 
either in or outside the dungeon depending on the outcome of the toss. So, 
wouldn't that amount to a question of which place you end up in when 
"resurrected"? As for the issue of splitting the copies later, let's 
imagine that within the dungeon the subject is forced to watch a huge 
amount of videos with randomly generated patterns, while on release the 
subject does not have to look at such noisy input and doesn't. Each random 
pattern, it would seem, splits the reality of the subject into alternate 
versions, via MWI, who see different possibilities. Would that make it more 
likely than 50% that the subject would remain in the dungeon, in some 
sense, perhaps overwhelmingly so, if the amount of perceived randomness 
within the prison is far greater than that without? Somehow it doesn't seem 
so. On the other hand, is this kind of splitting, which (assuming it really 
is happening, of course) different from splitting that would occur if, say, 
we made a duplicate person so you'd have versions both inside and outside 
the dungeon? (Or maybe the two kinds of splittings should be considered to 
multiply.) It seems to me you'd have to take a hard look at what sort of 
multiplying of copies you are really doing, taking into account *all* the 
ways this might be happening, what the probabilities are, and so on.

I'll not deny that this sort of problem is challenging and will not claim 
any definitive answer. But I'm fairly optimistic that answers are possible, 
and also confident we don't have to worry much about outcomes that, on the 
face of it, really seem improbable. When you go to sleep at night it seems 
reasonable, barring an ongoing medical emergency, that you will "probably" 
wake up okay the next morning, in the same room and such. This seems more 
likely than your next perceptions being maybe millennia in the future as a 
copy in some resurrection project--or perhaps as a cryonic resuscitee, to 
be told you died in your sleep of some unexpected cause. In this case the 
simple alternative of waking up rather than clinically dying is "known" 
already to be the likely one, though that doesn't prove that subjectively 
it will seem to be "likely." Yet normally we assume it will be. (On the 
other hand, there is a small probability of a copy of you being created 
halfway around the world by some random process, while the original is 
still sleeping, say, but you also don't worry about waking up halfway 
around the world.)  Again, I am confident that the matter can be rationally 
addressed, in such a way as to deal with cases beyond our usual 
experience--a good project for a long future.

Mike Perry

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