[ExI] Let's play What If.

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Thu Oct 28 17:32:18 UTC 2010

On 10/28/2010 11:09 AM, John Clark wrote:

>> he didn't *wake up* in the scanning room, he just lay there or sat
>> there while he was scanned, as we do when being X-rayed, then he got
>> up, had a cup of tea, and went on his way out the same door he entered.
> And at that point you can relax knowing that you had dodged a bullet,
> something you could not have done 5 minutes before.
>> The copies all experience something other than that: an abrupt lurch
>> of location
> Exactly

Exactly indeed. Recall Stathis's proposition:

<If you were given the choice of being duplicated a million times with
one of the copies being tortured or once with one of the copies being
tortured would you have any preference for one or the other case,
given that in both cases it is certain that there will be one
individual who is tortured?>

My reply was that aside from empathy for the victim, I as the original 
(an I would know I was the original after the scanning, as we have 
already established) would not care one way or the other. However, at 
the start of the thread, Stathis was more explicit about including the 
original in the exciting torture scheme:

<Before the procedure
if one of the copy or the original is to be tortured you will be
anxious, because there is a 1/2 probability that you will be tortured.>

This is why I replied:

<If I know *in advance* that the information [as to whether or not I am 
the original] is going to be kept from me, I'm not foolish enough to 
authorize the procedure.>

I repeat that even more emphatically if we revert to Stathis's original 
proposal that the original as well as the copies is part of the group 
liable to torture. Why would anyone sane agree to undergo a procedure 
that was sure to inflict torment on somebody exactly like him, or even 
on him, the original faced with this decision?

Now we can always ask some adjacent question. Suppose you know that road 
or air accidents are always to some small degree stochastic and out of 
your hands, and that the chance of dying horribly is one in a million. 
(It's really much worse than that: "If you average one round-trip flight 
per year (on the safer airlines), your lifetime odds of dying in a plane 
crash are less than 1 in 66,000.") Would an immortal ever get on a plane 
or inside a car, knowing that he or she was doomed eventually? Answer: I 
expect they would, just as we do now.

So change Stathis's proposition to: If you could be duplicated, so that 
the world now contained N new instances of you, with a risk that the 
process will horribly mangle one of the copies (and maybe the scanning 
could go wrong and accidentally maim the original), would you do it? I 
still have to wonder why a non-narcissist would want to, but hey... My 
answer: unless there was some overwhelmingly weighty reason for it, I'd 
gracefully decline and run off as if the fiends of hell were on my heels.

But wait, cries Stathis--this is *already* the case; you are being 
replaced atom by atom, and your chance of dying from the process is not 
just 1 in a million or 1 in 66,000, but 1 in 1! How do you feel about 
*that,* cupcake? To which I reply: I feel like shit about it, always 
have. But what's my alternative? Kill myself now to avoid the inevitable 
pain, or just get reconciled to it while doing what I can to advance 
research to put an end to such an atrocity?

But now I've ruined the lovely clean thought experiment by bringing 
realism into it. Sorry about that.

Damien Broderick

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list