Re: Anthropic Inference

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Wed Aug 23 2006 - 18:38:21 MDT

Michael Anissimov wrote:
> This is a very important statement. What Michael is saying is that we
> are living in a timeline where many many humans are born before they
> destroy themselves with UFAI or move into another reference class.
> (If I'm translating the idea correctly.)
> Given that our probability of being born into any given being in our
> reference class is roughly equivalent, it is likely that we will find
> ourselves in the universe where many us-beings exist. That is, where
> they make babies the most before dying or transcending.

I have never been able to muster confidence in any of the varieties of
anthropic reasoning (bearing in mind that discarding anthropic
information is also a variety of anthropic reasoning). What kind of
disembodied soul - or disembodied Bayesian agent - is supposed to be
floating out there, observing, waiting to be "randomly" assigned by some
cosmic die roll, to the possibly ill-formed or infinite set of all
sentient beings who will ever exist in the whole of Time and the Level
IV Multiverse? Where is this disembodied soul - since it's clearly not
inside Time?

Okay, so to some extent I'm intentionally poking fun; but surely you
must realize that a statement like "our probability of being born into
any given being in our reference class is roughly equivalent" is sheer
nonsense. Lack of clear definitions is one reason why I haven't been
able to settle on any resolution of anthropic problems.

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky                
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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