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

From: Gwern Branwen (
Date: Mon Oct 27 2008 - 10:30:48 MDT

On Mon, Oct 27, 2008 at 6:25 AM, William Pearson <> wrote:
> 2008/10/27 Gwern Branwen <>:
>> * 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.
> Preference for thicker worlds is implicit in any thought of preference
> in decision making in MW.
> If you don't think it makes a difference morally what you chose, why
> make a choice to do good at all? Why should we blame someone for
> killing someone, if it was going to happen anyway? We just happened to
> be in the world where he did it.

I certainly do follow this line of thought, and I have always had
trouble seeing how one can be moral in a MW.

But even with thickness, I'm not sure it works. Yes, perhaps I chose
to spare that man's life, but wouldn't as many versions of me have
also chosen to kill him in myriads of ways? How can my choice to be
moral have affected 'thickness' of happier branches of the MW, given
its timelessness and determinism? Can I be sure that thicknesses do
indeed vary - clearly in a MW with an infinite number of branches
every thickness is the same as the others, but even if I assume a MW
with a finite number of branches, aren't there more branches where
everybody does immoral things or die horribly (because there are so
many more ways to be immoral or to be dead than to be moral or alive)?
For that matter, what that it matter if thicknesses are changing for
the better? We are products of our unique contingent path through the
MW - we're not taking a airplane flight above the MW & parachuting
into some random branch after a lifetime of good works. Assuming
ourselves to be a random observer may be useful for Rawls thinking
about ideal forms of governance or Bostrom working on knotty
probability questions, but I don't see the connection to this sort of

> Mangled worlds,, might also
> be true, so too thin worlds might perish.
> Will


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