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

TheMan mabranu at yahoo.com
Sat Jun 16 02:51:54 UTC 2007

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky writes:
> Suppose I want to win the lottery.  I write a small
> Python program, 
> buy a ticket, and then suspend myself to disk. 
> After the lottery 
> drawing, the Python program checks whether the
> ticket won.  If not, 
> I'm woken up.  If the ticket did win, the Python
> program creates one 
> trillion copies of me with minor perturbations (this
> requires only 40 
> binary variables).  These trillion copies are all
> woken up and 
> informed, in exactly the same voice, that they have
> won the lottery. 
> Then - this requires a few more lines of Python -
> the trillion copies 
> are subtly merged, so that the said binary variables
> and their 
> consequences are converged along each clock tick
> toward their 
> statistical averages.  At the end of, say, ten
> seconds, there's only 
> one copy of me again.  This prevents any permanent
> expenditure of 
> computing power or division of resources - we only
> have one bank 
> account, after all; but a trillion momentary copies
> isn't a lot of 
> computing power if it only has to last for ten
> seconds.  At least, 
> it's not a lot of computing power relative to
> winning the lottery, and 
> I only have to pay for the extra crunch if I win.
> What's the point of all this?  Well, after I suspend
> myself to disk, I 
> expect that a trillion copies of me will be informed
> that they won the 
> lottery, whereas only a hundred million copies will
> be informed that 
> they lost the lottery.  Thus I should expect
> overwhelmingly to win the 
> lottery.  None of the extra created selves die -
> they're just 
> gradually merged together, which shouldn't be too
> much trouble - and 
> afterward, I walk away with the lottery winnings, at
> over 99% 
> subjective probability.
> Of course, using this trick, *everyone* could expect
> to almost 
> certainly win the lottery.

That's a great, confusing thought experiment! I like
> 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.  

I never assumed that the number of copies of me would
change my life in any way, or the way it feels, as
long as I live it in the same way. Do you experience
your life as richer, or somehow better in some way, if
you have more copies, than if you have fewer copies?
That feels like an arbitrary theory to me. I fail to
see why it should be like that.

> 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 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. 

I'm confused too. 

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