[ExI] Affecting Past Experience (was The Reality of Categories)

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Thu Jul 19 12:05:39 UTC 2007

On 19/07/07, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:
> Stathis wrote
> (Sent: Tuesday, July 17, 2007 5:10 AM)
> > In a block universe, there are my previous selves and my future
> > selves, all doing their thing simultaneously (as it were). My past
> > selves are about as similar to me as my future selves at an equivalent
> > temporal displacement, but my future selves constitute a memory
> > superset of my present self while my past selves do not. Therefore, I
> > don't care if my past selves are wiped out by a giant
> > trans-block-universe-thingy whereas I do care if my future selves
> > suffer such a fate.
> Of course, the whole idea of a block universe is that by being
> deterministic, the whole thing exists "at once", and so it's hard
> to make sense of past selves being wiped out by something
> like a "trans-block-universe-thingy".  But I believe that indeed
> sense *can* be made of such.  Perhaps this is what you are
> referring to:
> Let's say that an uploaded entity---born, raised, and educated
> all in software (or I should say "coded-up, run, and having
> incorporated a great number of facts")---finds itself in the
> Newcomb's Paradox position.  Then I think that there is a
> strong sense in which he is "free" to choose whether he
> actually had certain experiences, or merely had the memories
> added artificially.
> It's all deterministic, of course, but still his Newcomb choice
> A (as opposed to choice B) may be correlated very highly
> with whether he really did experience X or just suffered the
> memories of experiencing X to added.  And by "highly
> correlated", I mean that a much vaster entity who designed
> and ran this entity arranged for the correlation to be 1.
> (In other words, a vastly superior entity E+ designed entity
> N so that N's choice---which is "free" if you ask N---will
> be A if and only if N did actually experience X, and will be
> B if not.   Now this isn't so easy, since N is supposed to
> be the same exact entity whether or not his memories were
> artificial.   But it could be done, so that N who chooses A
> (and so got the real experiences) differs only infinitesimally
> from N' who just got the memory enhancement.  This
> probably makes sense only if N is systematically confronted
> by a whole sequence of A/B choices, and comes to learn
> later after each choice whether the truth was that he actually
> had X or actually had not experienced X.)
> It is easier for me to assume that X is a positive experience
> that N is eager to repeat, and which N hopes was a real
> experience and not just a memory addition.  It's very much
> as in Total Recall, where at after the Martian adventure is
> over Arnold will always wonder whether it really happened
> or the folks at Total Recall just added in the memories. We
> may assume for convenience that Arnold would treasure
> the experience having been real (even if somehow it had no
> further repercussions in his life).

This would be a very artificial situation, as in almost every case
there would be no impact on a present subject whether his past was
real or imagined.

My original experiment could conceivably be modelled without the need
for godlike powers. Suppose I am informed that I am living in a
computer simulation of a special kind. My whole life from birth to
death has been determined, and is being run in real time in day long
sections simultaneously on geographically separated computers, one
computer for each day of my life, so that the whole thing is over and
done with in a single day in the real world. I am also aware that
these computers are the focus of a bombing campaign by forces who
believe sentient software is blasphemous. Although it's beyond my
control, I fervently hope that the terrorists will not destroy the
computers running days in my subjective future, but I don't really
care if they destroy computers running days in my subjective past. In
fact, I would prefer that all my past days be destroyed if it could
save one future day, even though that way the total runtime of all
instances of me is reduced.

Stathis Papaioannou

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list