[ExI] any exact copy of you is you + universe is infinite = you are guaranteed immortality

Jef Allbright jef at jefallbright.net
Fri Jun 15 18:13:41 UTC 2007

On 6/14/07, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky <sentience at pobox.com> wrote:

> I mention this to show that the question of what it feels like to have
> a lot of copies of yourself - what kind of subjective outcome to
> predict when you, yourself, run the experiment - is not at all
> obvious.

Eliezer, I'm astounded that you would find this confusing. How could
the existence of multiple copies have any direct causal connection to
what would be felt by any instance?  To make sense of your statement
I'm driven to infer that you believe in the (possible) existence of a
subjective self independent of its instantiation(s). Is that your
current position?

>  And the difficulty of imagining an experiment that would
> definitively settle the issue, especially if observed from the
> outside, or what kind of state of reality could correspond to
> different subjective experimental results, is such as to suggest that
> I am just deeply confused about the whole issue.

It's not "difficult", but impossible in principle to devise any such
experimental proof.  And that's the strongest possible hint that the
question is wrong.  The concept of a discrete self is incoherent
beyond the domain of everyday interaction.

> It is a very important lesson in life to never stake your existence,
> let alone anyone else's, on any issue which deeply confuses you - *no
> matter how logical* your arguments seem.  This has tripped me up in
> the past, and I sometimes wonder whether nothing short of dreadful
> personal experience is capable of conveying this lesson.  That which
> confuses you is a null area; you can't do anything with it by
> philosophical arguments until you stop being confused.  Period.
> Confusion yields only confusion.  It may be important to argue
> philosophically in order to progress toward resolving the confusion,
> but until everything clicks into place, in real life you're just screwed.

There is great wisdom in tempering hubris and arrogance, but don't
neglect to temper the fine edge of your sword of rationality.  When it
is time to cut, cut decisively.

- Jef

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