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

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Sat Jun 16 15:58:40 UTC 2007

On 16/06/07, Jef Allbright <jef at jefallbright.net> wrote:

> In a duplication experiment, one copy of you is created intact, while the
> > other copy of you is brain damaged and has only 1% of your memories. Is
> the
> > probability that you will find yourself the brain-damaged copy closer to
> 1/2
> > or 1/100?
> Doesn't this thought-experiment and similar "paradoxes" make it
> blindingly obvious that it's silly to think that "you" exist as an
> independent ontological entity?
> Prior to duplication, there was a single biological agent recognized
> as Stathis.  Post-duplication, there are two very dissimilar
> biological agents with recognizably common ancestry.  One of these
> would be recognized by anyone (including itself) as being Stathis.
> The other would be recognized by anyone (including itself) as being
> Stathis diminished.
> Where's the paradox?  There is none, unless one holds to a belief in
> an essential self.

You are of course completely right, in an objective sense. However, I am
burdened with a human craziness which makes me think that I am going to be
one, and only one, person post-duplication. This idea is at least as firmly
fixed in my mind as the desire not to die (another crazy idea: how can I die
when there is no absolute "me" alive from moment to moment, and even if
there were why should I be a slave to my evolutionary programming when I am
insightful enough to see how I am being manipulated?). My question is about
how wild-type human psychology leads one to view subjective probabilities in
these experiments, not about the uncontested material facts.

> In the first stage of an experiment a million copies of you are created.
> In
> > the second stage, after being given an hour to contemplate their
> situation,
> > one randomly chosen copy out of the million is copied a trillion times,
> and
> > all of these trillion copies are tortured.  At the start of the
> experiment
> > can you expect that in an hour and a bit you will almost certainly find
> > yourself being tortured or that you will almost certainly find yourself
> not
> > being tortured? Does it make any difference if instead of an hour the
> > interval between the two stages is a nanosecond?
> I see no essential difference between this scenario and the previous
> one above.   How can you possibly imagine that big numbers or small
> durations could make a difference in principle?
> While this topic is about as stale as one can be, I am curious about
> how it can continue to fascinate certain individuals.

It has fascinated me for many years, in part because different parties see
an "obvious" answer and these answers are completely at odds with each
other. My "obvious" answer is that we could already be living in a world
where multiple copies are being made of us all the time, and we would still
have developed exactly the same theory of and attitude towards probability
theory as if there were only a single world.

Stathis Papaioannou
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