[extropy-chat] Role of MWI and Time Travel (was: Are ancestor simulations immoral?)

Russell Wallace russell.wallace at gmail.com
Wed May 24 20:53:25 UTC 2006

On 5/24/06, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at tsoft.com> wrote:
> I do think not that it is exactly correct to say that by making
> a certain choice I am *creating* an Everett branch. It's much more
> like I'm joining a certain pre-existing Everett branch.

Both statements are correct, they are merely different ways to look at the
same thing.

> that QM under MWI is a completely deterministic theory, and that
> "free will" is an awkward concept in deterministic systems.

Physics _has nothing whatsoever to do with free will_. Saying it has is a
category error, like saying deterministic versus random physics determines
whether water is genuinely wet. (If you still think the physics is
important, remember that any random model is trivially isomorphic to a
deterministic model.)

So you don't prevent 60 million deaths in World War II by killing
> the people who got the human race into it. That happens in a certain
> definite fraction of the universes anyway.

But our choices determine what _proportion_ of the universes it happens in.
Well, since we don't actually have time travel our decisions in 2006 don't
influence World War 2, but they do influence what happens from here onwards
- including, for example, whether humanity makes it to the Singularity or
sinks back into the mud. Our choices are _part of_ the causal matrix that
determines the success percentage.

Where free will is not entirely useless is when you decide to paint
> your house green or brown. It feels like you get to choose, and
> indeed there are universes in which Samantha, Russell, or Lee
> painted their house green, magenta, purple, yellow, and so on.

You do get to choose - and not just the color of your house. Free will is
defined as the state of affairs where the causal matrix that determines the
outcome includes your mind as a significant part.

If I'm standing on a north-south path, I have free will on whether I go
north or south, because the causal matrix that determines the result
includes as a key component that pattern called "Russell's mind".

If I fall out of an aircraft, as Infocom famously remarked, I have no free
will on whether I go up or down, because the causal matrix that determines
the result doesn't significantly include the pattern called "Russell's
mind"; it's mostly about the pattern called "gravity".
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/attachments/20060524/153c58c1/attachment.html>

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list