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

Jef Allbright jef at jefallbright.net
Sun Jun 17 14:54:42 UTC 2007

On 6/16/07, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky <sentience at pobox.com> wrote:

> This is what I meant by "What does it feel like" - the most basic
> question of all science - what appears to you to happen, what sensory
> information do you receive, when you run the experiment?  All our
> other models of the universe are constructed from this.  I do not
> exult in this state of affairs, and I think it reflects a lack of
> understanding in my mind more than anything fundamental in reality
> itself - that is, I don't think sensory information really is
> primitive, or anything like that - but for the present it is the only
> way I can figure out how to describe rational reasoning.
> By "what does it feel like" I meant the most basic question of all
> science - what appears to happen when you run the experiment?  Do you
> feel that you've repeatedly won the lottery, or never won at all?
> Standing outside, I can say with certitude, "so many copies experience
> winning the lottery, and then merge; all other observers just see you
> losing the lottery".  And this sounds like a complete objective
> statement of what the universe is like.  But what do you experience?
> Does setting up this experiment make you win the lottery?  After you
> run the experiment, you'll know for yourself how reality works -
> you'll either have experienced winning the lottery several times in a
> row, or not - but no outside observers will know, so what could you
> have seen that they didn't?  What causal force touched you and not them?
> This, to me, suggests that I am confused, not that I have successfully
> described the way things are; it seems a true paradox, of the sort
> that can't really work.  When I was younger I would have wanted to try
> the experiment.

Of course there is no true paradox.  Only the overwhelming and
transparent assumption of an essential Self that must have meaning
somehow independent of an observer. It's like asking what was
happening one second before the big bang.  While syntactically
correct, the question has no meaning. Your statement of puzzlement is
riddled with this paradox-inducing assumption leaving a singularity at
the core of your epistemology.  Accept the simpler model, assume not
this unnecessary ontological entity -- despite the strong but
explainable phenomenological story told by your senses -- and there is
no paradox, the world remains unchanged, and one can proceed on the
basis of a more coherent, and thus more reliably extensible, model of

I hope you get this, Eliezer.  You seem to be primed for it, standing
at the ledge and peering into the void.  But a brilliant mind can
mount a formidable defense, even of that which does not exist except
as a construct of mind.  I hope you get this, because a coherent
theory of self is at the core of a coherent theory of morality.

- Jef

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list