[ExI] The Anticipation Dilemma

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Sun Jul 22 05:36:39 UTC 2007

Mike writes

> I was thinking about your Anticipation Dilemma.  If you should be eagerly anticipating
> the dinner you ate last night because some earlier point-in-time version of yourself has
> not yet eaten it

That's a vastly simpler way of putting it than my contorted explication.
Your explanation is perhaps less rigorous---but not needing an omniscient
AI or God, not needing time-travel, etc., certainly has its advantages. 

(Of course the whole point, for those just joining us, is that I doubt very
much whether it's possible to put *anticipation* on a completely rational
and defensible basis as a concept, even though our lives are mostly
driven by it.  That is, we do many things because we anticipate the
pleasure or satisfaction that will be obtained---and it's obvious why natural
selection did not build into us a similar anticipation of past events, 
even though (at least from the "state" or "patternist" formulation of
identity) past events are on the same logical footing as future events.)

> and you must embrace the anticipation of all your selves.

Right.  That's the primrose path down which certain thought experiments
seem invariably to lead.

> If you are willing to lose access to the runtime of an arbitrary week
> from your past and you identify with earlier point-in-time selves,

It's important to distinguish this case from the one Stathis just brought
up.  In his case the experience never actually occurred, despite your
having memories of it.  In this case here, the experience happened all
right, but the memory has been erased.  That must be what you mean by
"access to the runtime" of a particular week.

> are you allowing them to be erased because your "now" awareness
> has deemed them less valuable than the unknown future moments
> you have not yet experienced?

No, in this scenario both the past moments and the future moments
really happen, it's just a question as to whether *memories* of them
are to be retained or not.  Okay, say my going rate for a typical
2006 week's worth of memories is $5M.  (Really, I'll lose one of
those for a *lot* less!)

> Is the exchange fixed for any arbitrary week, or only for the immediately
> past week?

Any week.  If I get to examine the week, and my diary allows me to
evalutate the worth of those particular memories, then the price may
go up or down.  There are some days (and presumably weeks) that
I'd just as soon forget!  Moreover, I'm afraid that I already have
forgotten particular days.  Even perhaps to the extent of you showing
me secretly taped video of everything I did and said on that day
and me not finding any of it familiar.  A lot of days from high school
are surely like that:  show me the video of the entire day, and I might
not remember a single incident.

> Does the time have to be contiguous?   [No.] Could we erase 1 week's 
> worth of memory from a disconnected set of 1 hour intervals? 
> (memory/life edit reminds me of some movies "Paycheck", "Click",
> "50 First Dates") 

Sure.  Usually, that's how I really forget stuff anyway.

> Suppose far future you has rated the next two weeks so uneventfully
> boring that they should be sold.

That's great!  Would that I could actually sell some for real money!

>  Your "Now" self is given the choice of selling either your next two
> weeks (based on your future self's suggestion that they're for sale)
> or any two weeks from your farther past.  If your future self has not
> given you an alternate period to choose from, do you vote with
> them on losing the next two weeks of your future or select a past
> period from on own?

Normally I would defer to the wishes of my future self:  he's in a
better position to know what is worth keeping than this-instance here
is.  On the other hand, if he is sufficently different from me (and has,
say, sworn off Earthly pleasures entirely) then I would not abide his

> I'm not necessarily making a point or trying to trap anyone, 

Oh, no.  Not at all.  (Isn't it amazing, though, how careful we
must be against misunderstandings?)

> I was just thinking about this and wonder what is your opinion.



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