Re: Afterlife

Hal Finney (
Tue, 22 Jul 1997 12:36:21 -0700 writes:
> If time is infinite then theoretically every eventuality will occur an
> infinite number of times.

Not necessarily, if the probability of the eventuality decays to zero
fast enough. In particular, if the universe is open, time may be infinite
in the sense that the universe goes on forever, but it may be that the
probability of life existing decreases towards zero, as argued by Tipler.
The net result is that your chance of reincarnation may be small.

However an open universe is thought (based on my dim understanding of
cosmology) likely to be infinite in spatial extent, with an infinite
number of stars and galaxies, all sharing our own laws of physics.
Your reasoning would then apply equally well to (non-re-) incarnations
occuring in an infinite number of ways across the infinity of space.

> For a rerun to occur (a being that develops so similar to yourself it carries
> on your consciousness) the surrounding world would have to be exact in every
> detail up to the point of your death (so that the being has the same memories
> and 'thinks' it is you).

Not at all, you could be created "from scratch" as an exact match of your
current body/mind. There is no reason why the surrounding world would have
to match. You would experience a discontinuity if the external world
changed, of course.

> For transhumans this seems pointless as you gain
> nothing from it, it does hold one interesting point to all those looking
> forward to an afterlife. They will live, but they won't know they've died.

This is only one possible circumstance, to resurrect ("surrect?") a person
and allow him to live out a simulated existence which may match his earlier
life. Would they notice if the simulation did not actually match what
happened before? Not clear this question is meaningful!

> Simulation as a posthumans recollection of the past, or as an experiment
> could also rerun dead minds. After simulating the consciousness of our
> chosen victim, we could then put them into a steady state of evolution to
> become fellow posthumans.

Sure, this is the basic thesis of Tipler's "Physics of Immortality". Also
similar to Hans Moravec's essay in an old issue of Extropy magazine. Ever
hear of that mag?

> Preserving yourself at the time of death gives you a smaller time frame in
> which to be reincarnated and would hopefully mean you'd have someone around
> to tell you what happened.

The real reason is because the universe may not actually be infinite in
either time or space, or conditions distant from our own may be sufficiently
different that we cannot expect to experience infinite (or even many)

> Not dying in the first place seems like a good idea, but whatever happens
> you're not going to die. However, you might be resurrected in the year
> 98,000,023, be reincarnated in a mirror universe (not that you would know) or
> be subjected to some nasty multiple consciousness paradoxes.

Tipler tries to argue that your resurrections will mostly be positive, but
not many people found it convincing.

> In short, even if we are all immortal, it's better to be in control of your
> own resurrection (especially if time turns out to be finite, in which case
> we're all screwed).

If the infinities do exist, you can only control some fraction of your
incarnations. I don't see any way to stop someone from reincarnating all
possible past humans and putting them into Hell.