[ExI] Global quantum suicide paradise engineering

Anders Sandberg asa at nada.kth.se
Fri Oct 16 10:47:37 UTC 2009

Tomaz Kristan wrote:
> For preventing us to create a Higgs boson, the Universe might use an 
> asteroid or accidental nuclear war. The Paradise machine could become 
> something less pleasant.
Of course. This kind of fate-manipulation, whether due to retrocausation 
or anthropic selection, requires devices that are absurdly (i.e. 
unbuildably) reliable. And they must also indeed prevent existential 
risks. At most I suspect that we could do an experiment to demonstrate 
the existence of the effect, but I doubt it can be practically harnessed.

Still, it gives a hint of just how *strange* the technology of a 
posthuman civilization or superintelligence might be. Apparently random 
things that benefit it might just happen. There is no overt plan, just 
amazing serendipity. What is actually going on behind the scenes may be 
so conceptually different from the effects we see that it does indeed 
look like magic - and not just in the Clarke's law sense. A paleolithic 
hunter-gatherer would likely say something similar about modern finance.

It is also interesting to consider what happens when two groups using 
this kind of tech are in conflict. If my device prevents me from losing 
and yours also does, that means that we will always make the same choice 
in rock-paper-scissors. And we will for some reason not be able to play 
games where one side must lose. Similarly, if we have signals from the 
future we can play the non-iterated prisoner's dilemma perfectly 
cooperatively in the one shot case.

Anders Sandberg
Future of Humanity Institute
Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University

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