[sl4] Is belief in immortality computable?

From: Matt Mahoney (matmahoney@yahoo.com)
Date: Sat May 16 2009 - 11:50:12 MDT

I posted this question to the Singularity list (see http://www.listbox.com/member/archive/11983/2009/05/sort/time_rev/page/1/entry/2:189/20090515134821:90DF5230-4178-11DE-999C-A0AEEBC83AC0/ ) but so far nobody knows. Maybe somebody on SL4 knows.

My question is whether belief in immortality is computable. The question is important because if not, then we could never arrive at a satisfactory solution to the problem of death. We would forever be trying to solve the problem even after we have solved it.

Assume an AIXI model in which the environment is known to the agent or easily learned. If the agent is rational and believes itself immortal, then it would make decisions in favor of maximizing payoffs over an infinite future rather than a finite one. For example, if you could increase your monthly retirement income by delaying your retirement date, then if you were immortal you would never retire. However, at no point would an observer know your decision.

To put it another way, belief in mortality is recursively enumerable but not recursive. An observer might be able to examine your source code and get the answer, but generally, the problem seems incomputable because of Rice's theorem. But perhaps I am missing something?

-- Matt Mahoney, matmahoney@yahoo.com

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