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#21 octopuppy

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 08:10 AM

Man, there are some juicy morsels left on the table in this thread... You've really got me thinking

Music to my ears, or eyes, even though I can't read music.

I will say that you are correct that I was referring to the first scenario, but I did want to make a small clarification. If you returned to the present time after gaining knowledge of the outcome of the dice throw, then I can't see how your possession of that knowledge would not alter your throw, and thus become a causal factor, if it's you who are throwing the dice.

If there is one course of events, there is nothing to alter. The throw was made by you after having returned from the future, while in possession of whatever knowledge you got there. There was no course of events in which you threw the dice without having visited the future so nothing to change. Of course you could always monkey about by going back to earlier than when you started from, and try to create some paradox or other. If there are multiple futures you'll be thwarted, and simply branch off into some other course of events, with no paradox. If there is one future you'll have to be thwarted in some more contrived manner.

In any case, the main thing you've got my brain stuck on is the concept of determination due to the laws of physics. As I sit here, deciding what keys to press, I have to wonder whether or not my choices are truly the result of an unavoidable series of physical events. My gut reaction is no, but why?

I'd like to propose an answer to that. It isn't in your best interests to think that your destiny is beyond your control. Thinking like that, you'd never have the incentive to get past difficult situations, and your species would never have survived the test of evolution. Gut feelings are there for practical reasons, and here philosophy seems to conflict with practicality. A belief in determinism suggests that we cannot control our future, and it's a bad idea to think that. I think the best way out of that quandary is to consider the notion of "control" as a practical construct which belongs in a different level of understanding. I think you can believe in determinism but understand that, for practical day to day decision making, it's a fact best ignored.

I believe that I am a soul, in the biblical sense, not that I have one, and that my thought processes are thus directly connected with the amazing function of my brain. If you were able to materially duplicate my exact physical structure, down to the quantum level, I believe you would have another me, complete with my memories and decision-making inclinations.

I agree with you, but surely if you believe the word "soul" means anything, it means that there is something indivisible and unique about you that is independent of the material world. What you've just said suggests to me you don't believe such a thing exists, so why do you use the word "soul"? Does this suggest a religious inclination or do you just use it as another term for "self"?

Is it possible that quantum fluctuations are the indeterministic loophole that God built into the system so as to enable free-will? Seems like a long shot, but an interesting point to ponder.

Being an atheist, I'm not particularly inclined to go for that. I find it hard to see what "free will" could mean in this context, other than a random outcome. Why would God want random outcomes? Of course we could drag the "soul" back into this, and say that quantum randomness gives the soul room to operate and make decisions that are not determined by physics. But then what are these decisions determined by? Backing out of physics only enables us to replace one system with another. Churches talk about the world of spirits and souls and the "supernatural" in the woolliest terms because we are not supposed to understand it. But suppose we tried (supposing first that it even exists). Are there reasons for what happens in that world? Cause and effect? If not, it's just random chaos. If so, then there are underlying mechanics. It's another physical system. Maybe different laws of physics but we still haven't escaped from either determinism or randomness.

Loving this discussion, by the way :D
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#22 DJ.

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Posted 09 April 2008 - 04:38 PM

Well i have a bit of religion on my side but i think destiny is the over all out come that is going to happen no matter what.We have free will but the out come of our decisions and the decisions themselves are destined for us to make
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#23 hugemonkey

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Posted 04 May 2009 - 08:44 PM

I like what Octopuppy said about many possible futures. This fits in here:
If death by definition is a lack of experience.
And all possible things happen in the quantum universe.
If there is a situation where you would either live or die (lets say it is a 50/50 probability either way)
Then you would only experience the situation where you live.
Now imagine that the odds are 1,000,000 to 1 that you will die. That one in a million chance of you living is an extremely low probability and would represent an extremely unlikely event. It would represent the only possible future in which you would have any experience so that would be the path your consciousness would take. The odds could be even worse but the outcome would always be the same as long as there is just one chance in however many billions of possible outcomes that would be the one that you would experience.
Now before someone steps in front of a truck hoping that all of its atoms will decay at precisely the same moment remember that there could be many negative outcomes that would be slightly "better" than death (maimed, coma, etc.) so why risk it.

Edited by hugemonkey, 04 May 2009 - 08:48 PM.

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#24 octopuppy

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Posted 04 May 2009 - 11:21 PM

I like what Octopuppy said about many possible futures. This fits in here:
If death by definition is a lack of experience.
And all possible things happen in the quantum universe.
If there is a situation where you would either live or die (lets say it is a 50/50 probability either way)
Then you would only experience the situation where you live.
Now imagine that the odds are 1,000,000 to 1 that you will die. That one in a million chance of you living is an extremely low probability and would represent an extremely unlikely event. It would represent the only possible future in which you would have any experience so that would be the path your consciousness would take. The odds could be even worse but the outcome would always be the same as long as there is just one chance in however many billions of possible outcomes that would be the one that you would experience.
Now before someone steps in front of a truck hoping that all of its atoms will decay at precisely the same moment remember that there could be many negative outcomes that would be slightly "better" than death (maimed, coma, etc.) so why risk it.

Wow, this takes me back a bit! You make an interesting point. In theory if you were to invent an activity that was incredibly risky, but had sufficient randomness involved that it is (only just) possible to survive, and the only negative outcome was instant death, you might participate in it without fear, knowing that you would survive (in all the futures you continue to experience). Now that's taking thrill-seeking to the next level!
EDIT: Hmm, I'm thinking high-speed motorcycling around an obstacle course where the obstacles are large dangling mines, slightest touch and ka-blooey! No safety helmet required. Anyone want to give it a try?
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#25 unreality

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 12:06 AM

I'm in :P
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#26 hugemonkey

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 12:52 AM

Wow, this takes me back a bit! You make an interesting point. In theory if you were to invent an activity that was incredibly risky, but had sufficient randomness involved that it is (only just) possible to survive, and the only negative outcome was instant death, you might participate in it without fear, knowing that you would survive (in all the futures you continue to experience). Now that's taking thrill-seeking to the next level!
EDIT: Hmm, I'm thinking high-speed motorcycling around an obstacle course where the obstacles are large dangling mines, slightest touch and ka-blooey! No safety helmet required. Anyone want to give it a try?

Nooo! think of all of the duplicate versions of your family that would have to attend your funeral in most of the duplicate universes! :unsure:
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#27 octopuppy

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 03:11 PM

Nooo! think of all of the duplicate versions of your family that would have to attend your funeral in most of the duplicate universes! :unsure:

"most"? Surely the set of universes in which unreality survives will be an infinite set of the same cardinality as if he hadn't done it in the first place! What's he got to lose?

PS. Bagsie exclusive TV rights!
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#28 unreality

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 10:57 PM

Sorry octopuppy, I'm auctioning off the TV rights, you'll have to place a bid like everyone else :P Maybe I'll do a random raffle. You'll win the raffle in an infinite number of universes so there's nothing to lose by buying a ticket!
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#29 octopuppy

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 09:38 AM

Come on, let's be reasonable about this. How about we split the TV rights in all futures you continue to experience and I get 100% in all futures you don't? That way everyone's a winner.

Oh by the way we shouldn't lose sight of the scientific importance of this. Nobody really knows that there are multiple futures, not for a fact, so we are in effect conducting a grand experiment here (it's what I like to call science-o-tainment :thumbsup: ). The trouble as I see it is that we can only experience one outcome in any one stream of consciousness, but I have an idea. We can simulate multiple outcomes by repeating the experiment every week (perhaps adding more mines and maybe blindfold you as well to vary the experimental parameters). That way we gather more data as well as getting a bigger revenue stream.
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#30 hugemonkey

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 03:03 PM

"most"? Surely the set of universes in which unreality survives will be an infinite set of the same cardinality as if he hadn't done it in the first place! What's he got to lose?

PS. Bagsie exclusive TV rights!

Although the number or alternate universes that spawn at any moment would be huge. They would still be finite because there is a finite amount of space, matter and time in each. It's pretty self evident that your free will (I'm trying to keep this on topic) is one of the factors that "choses" your particular path.
Each time you make a free-will decision (and the universe branches) a duplicate of the entire universe is not necessary. Only the local area around you, call it a "sphere of influence", would be needed. This would be the all of the universe that you could affect in your lifetime and would be similar to an event horizon. Even if you were to consider "yourself" as not merely being you the individual but all of humanity or even the Earth these things still have limited lifespans and therefore could only affect a limited portion of the universe.
There are already many TV shows movies that use this premise, but if you can do it better go right ahead :lol:
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