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Hans Moravec – 2

find yourself in those worlds. Maybe some other things could change that bring back your consciousness, but that would be like another coincidence that would have to happen. The odds of that happening are small.

So the most likely world that you will find yourself in in the next moment, is one that’s just continuation of the world that you’re in right now, because nothing has to change. All the mechanism that you have all this investment in–this evolutionary and biological growth investment–just continues. The only other question is, why are we in this kind of world in the first place? And again, now that we’re in it, we’re kind of stuck. Probably it is the case that this is the simplest world, the world that required the least number of coincidental starting positions to produce us.

If you look around it’s not immediately obvious that this world is simple. But if you believe the physicists, they’re telling us that sooner or later we’re going to find a theory of everything, which is some simple equation, that basically describes the underlying mechanism for the entire universe. The evolution of this equation produces everything, and really the world is simple. It’s just that in order to have such a simple description produce us, you have to go through this long process of consequences from that simple starting point, which is the evolution of the universe, the expansion of space, the evolution of life, and on and on–all those fifteen billion years

worth. Because, after all, we, as conscious beings of exactly the kinds we are, are pretty complicated.

We have hundreds of billions of neurons, and probably couldn’t be as rich in our mental lives if we didn’t have all of those. They have to be wired just so, and as a kind of a side-effect of having to be just this way to be, and to have our sense of existence. The easiest way for that to happen was for the rest of the universe to happen too. (laughter) So all of this kind of holds us into being physical beings.

That’s all true until the point where the physical existence is no longer working too well–basically the point where we die. Now, in the space of all possible worlds there are certainly going to be continuations of consciousness in some of them, no matter what happens to us, because some of those possible worlds you can simulate. It’s always possible when you have a simulation, and if something happens that you didn’t like, to be able to make some change, and basically undo whatever that thing that you didn’t like, and have it continue.

So no matter how we die, in some possible world there’s a way in which we, through some mechanism or other, continue on. And those are the only worlds which we’re going to find ourselves. The others have zero probability for us personally, and this is sort of on an individual basis. Here really has different probabilities. I can find myself in a world in which you died pretty easily, and you can find yourself in a world in which I died, but I can never find myself in a world in which I died, and vice versa. Obviously, we don’t really live in the world, we just have some momentary correlation.

So what does this continuation look like? Suppose you were hit by a truck, and you got flattened. What does the continuation look like? Well, I don’t have great answers, but I can make up some things. What I can’t tell you is which are the most probable, which are the ones that in a total sense require the least number of coincidences, and are thus the ones that you’re most likely to find yourself in. Of course, they’re all real, and they all exist. It’s just that some of them are kind of the equivalent of winning a lottery. You’ll probably never find yourself there.

One possibility that’s kind of intriguing, and let’s you do a personal experiment, predicts rather strange happenings for us individually. Maybe the easiest way for your consciousness to continue in the instance of the truck is that actually the truck noticed you, and blew its horn and you jumped back, and you didn’t get hit after all. Then everything could still go on according to

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