[ExI] Next moment, everything around you will probably change

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Sun Jun 24 18:59:04 UTC 2007

Stathis writes

>> Exactly. Or they might believe that they'll become a particular
>> sun flower, or a particular river that they're fond of. And they'd
>> be just plain wrong, if not nuts.
> And the reason they're wrong is that going to bed and being replaced
> by a sunflower or a river in the morning will not reproduce the
> experience of going to bed and waking up as myself, whereas going to
> bed and waking up as my exact duplicate will.

Of course, what is at issue is exactly what is the difference between
"myself" and "my duplicate". 

> Going to bed in the knowledge that I will die overnight while my
> duplicate of a few minutes ago sleeps soundly in the next room does
> not reproduce the experience of going to bed and waking up normally,

Well, even going to bed in a strange room does not reproduce "the
experience of waking up normally". 

> but is more like going to bed and not waking up at all.

Yes, there is a troubling anticipation as you lie awake and think about
your duplicate in the next room. While you both sleep, only the 
duplicate wakes up. The memories that you accumulated in the
last ten minutes (since the fork) will be lost.  *Physically* we
have to suppose that the only *real* difference is in those memories,
because otherwise *physically* the awakening of your duplicate is
the same as the awakinging of the original.

But you do know all this, as I realize from our earlier discussions.
So it seems to me just a question of internalizing it. Therefore, you
shouldn't worry about "not existing" as you think about your 
duplicate in the next room, and just resign yourself to losing a
few minutes' memories.

> The counterargument is that going to bed as per the last paragraph is
> similar to going to bed and waking up with a few minutes' amnesia. If
> I take a drug such as midazolam which will I know will wipe out any
> memory of the next few minutes when I wake up tomorrow, then during
> that period that I know I won't remember I will be in a position
> analogous to that of contemplating my imminent death, knowing that my
> present self will have no direct successor.

Oh!  This illustrates the perils of (me) not reading what was coming
before spouting off!  Yes, quite so!

But "my imminent death" may be overstating what happens in the
situation, of course.

> If I can overcome my fear of anticipating no successor experiences
> then I should (logically, I would argue) overcome my fear of death.

So just how upset, under midazolam, would you be?  Alas,
it's not something that one would get "used to"!   For the 
very interesting reason that one would not recall the previous
instances of so being under the influence. 

As for me, it would be a bit annoying.  I like to think that when
I think I do learn a little (if just reorganizing memories), and in
that sense being "under the influence" of midazolam would be
a waste of time. 

But I don't think that most people are frightened (or anything)
after the drug begins to take effect.  It's just a peculiar fact
that they know that they won't remember.  But then, we forget
stuff all the time, and it's no big deal.

> On the other hand, if I can find consolation in the survival of a copy
> who branched off from me some time ago then I should also find
> consolation in existence of past versions of me, who definitely
> existed and definitely shared my memories etc.

Yes, that is the logical conclusion. We should look at runtime whether
it's in the past, present, or future as bestowing benefit (so long, of
course, as that part of life is/was/will be worth living). 

> After all, once this instance of me is permanently dead his relationship
> to past, present and future copies is all the same.

I just don't look at "instances" as dying.  People can die, programs
can fail to get runtime over an interval of time, but instances are, ah,
terminated.  :-)


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