Re: [sl4] Is belief in immortality computable?

From: Charles Hixson (
Date: Tue May 19 2009 - 17:08:38 MDT

Matt Mahoney wrote:
> --- On Tue, 5/19/09, Nick Tarleton <> wrote:
>> On Sat, May 16, 2009 at 1:50 PM, Matt Mahoney <>
>> wrote:
>>> 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.
>> This doesn't follow. You demonstrate, if anything, that outside
>> observers cannot determine whether an agent believes it is immortal;
>> that doesn't mean the agent can't know whether it believes it's
>> immortal.
> You might say you are immortal, but if you really believed it and were rational, you would choose a contract paying $1 per day forever over any one-time payment no matter how large. Belief doesn't mean anything unless it results in an observable change in behavior.
> -- Matt Mahoney,
Not clear. You are assuming that the agent believes that you will be
able to pay you $1/day, and that it believes the value of $1 remains a
constant. Both are probably false for a reasonably intelligent agent.
And it also needs to believe that it can't invest the money in other
ways for a better return. Etc.

If you are limiting the environments in which is it operating to
extremely simple ones, or the agent is very naive about the external
environment, then it might agree to your terms. And if the agent is
very trusting and significantly less intelligent that you, it might
agree to your terms. But if the agent is living in an environment that
maps reasonably onto the world that we live in, then I doubt that it
would believe that YOU would immortally honor the contract.

There's more things going on in this decision that just it's belief
about it's own immortality. And to even have the concept as more than a
label it's going to need a lot of connections and information about the
external world. So I'm not certain that the limited agent described in
the prior paragraph could actually exist (and have actual beliefs about least rationally based ones).

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