Re: [sl4] Uploading into a deterministic sim vs Many worlds

From: Gwern Branwen (
Date: Sun Oct 26 2008 - 23:32:54 MDT

On Sun, Oct 26, 2008 at 6:47 PM, William Pearson <> wrote:
> Let us say you believe in many worlds and you had been offered the
> chance to upload into a deterministic simulation to live forever, any
> quantum randomness would be generated by PRNG. It would be so good,
> you wouldn't know you had been uploaded. Assuming you value the lives
> of people you will never encounter, should you upload?
> I'll give an argument for why you shouldn't.
> More people will live if you upload. Your eyes are single photon
> detectors, so sooner or later you will get split into different people
> that follow different lives. You will have sex at different times, and
> different children will be conceived, due to different sperm
> fertilising eggs.
> In the the deterministic sim, you would be in a single world line
> (albeit it much thicker). So should you have a child it would only be
> one child. Of course there is the minuscule possibility of arbitrary
> quantum changes, leading to any possible world, if mangled worlds is
> right they won't exist for long.
> So in some senses you are condemning your many possible future
> children to non-existence if you upload.
> Thoughts? It seems to me to be mixing up the first person view and the
> laplacian demon view, which I think is a mistake. But other people
> might find it interesting.
> Will Pearson

I'm going to echo Matt here: it doesn't matter which you pick.

The situations pre-supposes Many Worlds, yes? So, because you've been
given a binary choice, there are two universes proceeding forth*. Both
alternatives happen - the Will who refuses goes on to do all the stuff
you mention, and the Will who is destroyed for an upload goes on to do
all the simulated stuff. It all comes out the same. Suppose somehow
both Wills choose not to be simulated - how is this sensible? The two
branches are identical. So what if there are 2 identical branches
where Will refuses and is instantly vaporized by a gas explosion, a
crashing air-liner, and a train jumping the rails? They're the same

If you're going to continue in this vein, I think you would need to
invoke probabilities or something, and say that the simulation choice
is immoral because it lowers how *many* branches all those potential
entities will pop up in. You can't argue that it's immoral because
they may not show up period.

* Let's assume you chose based on the decay of an atom. But even if
you specify that one is choosing based just on normal mental
decision-making, I think we can trace it all back to some quantum
event. I hope it's not controversial to argue that if it can happen,
in MW it does.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:01:03 MDT