[extropy-chat] Doomsday argument

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Sat Oct 14 03:19:09 UTC 2006

Robin writes

> If there are many aliens out there, then the total number of 
> creatures that we could have been in the universe doesn't change much 
> from scenarios where our civilization dies fast or lasts long.   So if
> you are a random creature among all these creatures,

I think that this is probably exactly the point at which Russell demurs.
That's what I've never been able to choke down myself. And I know
that Eliezer has publically denigrated such a calculus of souls, rightly
saying that it's bad to think about a sample space (made up, say, of
all sentient entities) from which you were drawn at random---
in other words, that a priori, it was equally likely that you could have
been born in the four centuries before Christ as that you were born
in the U.S. in the 1960's.  No way!

You could not have been born anywhere except on Earth and in
the 20th century at that. You are the result of a baby with certain
genetic traits being raised in a 20th century type environment. It is
not possible that you could have been born with twelve tentacles
living in a methane atmosphere and holding absolute religious
convictions concerning the Great Squid that preclude all scientific
or rational thinking.  It simple wouldn't be you.  Therefore as
Eliezer says, the sample space is bad; and Bostrom and others
seem to have been thinking that its made of soul-like points in the
space of all possible outcomes.


> then you are more likely to find yourself in our civilization if
> our civilization lasts long and has many creatures in  it.   This
> is the "other probability shift."

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