[ExI] The Anticipation Dilemma

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Mon Jul 23 11:45:02 UTC 2007

On 23/07/07, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:

> > If it was mainly the inability to anticipate future experiences I was
> > worried about, a necessary effect of quasi-death and death, and I can
> > convince myself that I should not be worried about it any more
> > (because, for example, I would not be worried about the quasi-death of
> > partial memory loss), then I should no longer be worried about either
> > quasi-death or death.
> Does this mean that you suspect that the prospect of memory
> erasure (say the last week's worth) would not prevent you from
> anticipating the pleasures of a vacation to Hawaii planned for
> later this year?

That wouldn't be problematic in any case. If I forget everything about
my past, too bad for my past self (who is now effectively dead) and
too bad about the inconvenience, but from this point on, I am forging
a new life for the new me. If, on the other had, I was forewarned that
I would lose all memory of the next 24 hours, I would feel that in a
sense the person I was *now* has only 24 hours to live. I would still
make provisions for the person I will become after that - I would hope
he would have done the same for me - but I wouldn't feel I could
anticipate his experiences in the way I can my own, and I would
probably feel nervous as the deadline approached.

> > Not fearing death or quasi-death at all would be one consistent
> > position. But perhaps I could revise what it is that I fear so that I
> > no longer fear quasi-death but only fear death;
> And now:
> > quasi-death being when there are near copies remaining or to be
> > created later, death being when there aren't and never will be.
> Thanks for a restatement of what you mean by *quasi-death*
> (which seems to me quite helpful definition).
> > But if I am to accept that definition of death, it would seem that I
> > should be as happy for past versions of myself to survive as future
> > versions.
> Except for the relatively minor inconvenience, I suppose, of losing
> a little memory. But basically, yes, it would seem that you should
> (or could) be as happy for past version to survive.
> > Having past versions of myself eliminated isn't normally an
> > option, but the thought experiment in another post in which I consider
> > a model of a block universe in parallel computers provides just such
> > an opportunity, and I would selfishly sacrifice all my past selves to
> > gain any extra runtime for my future selves.
> Although it is very interesting, it seems to me that the idea of
> actually eliding past runtime is a separate issue from our anxieties
> over impending memory loss. But I guess I see now what you
> really meant by "past versions of myself to survive".
> You seem to be using "to survive" as meaning to "get runtime",
> and in the sense of denying a past self his runtime (in your bombing
> scenario), whereas I usually think of "to survive" as whether from
> a given point the future solar system will host "you".

But you still seem to be preferring future runtime to past runtime.
One way you could justify this is by saying that past runtime can't be
"lost", so you need only focus on the future if your ultimate strategy
is to maximise total runtime. However, in my bombing scenario that
isn't so: you could as easily lose the past as the future, and in
either case the total loss of runtime would be the same. Would you
therefore say it is no worse to lose the next decade as the last
decade to the bombers?

Stathis Papaioannou

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