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The coin toss revisited
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GhylTarvoke Offline
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Post: #1
The coin toss revisited

Yet another thought experiment. Let me know what you think!


Scenario #1:

To get into heaven, you must pass through the circular Room of Mystery. A solid wall divides the room into two identical chambers, A and B. The entire room can spin so that either chamber leads into heaven.

You begin by entering Chamber A. Then, as the room spins rapidly, a perfect copy of you materializes in Chamber B. Finally, the person in Chamber B drops dead, while the other person walks out into heaven.

QUESTION: Would you enter the Room of Mystery?

Scenario #2:

To get into heaven, you must pass through the circular Room of Mystery. A solid wall divides the room into two identical chambers, A and B. The entire room can spin so that either chamber leads into heaven.

You begin by entering Chamber A. Then, as the room spins rapidly, a perfect copy of you materializes in Chamber B. Finally, the person in Chamber A drops dead, while the other person walks out into heaven.

QUESTION: Would you enter the Room of Mystery?


Here's one school of thought.
Spoiler below!
In the first scenario, entering the room is a no-brainer. You walk into Chamber A, and then from Chamber A into heaven. Whatever happens in Chamber B (someone materializing and then dying) is irrelevant.

In the second scenario, however, the "original you" always drops dead. So from the perspective of "original you" (to whom the question is posed), entering the room is a very bad idea.

Applying a similar argument to the world of SOMA, Mark Sarang is foolish to view the ARK as a "way out". He's just committing suicide.
Here's another school of thought.
Spoiler below!
The two scenarios have exactly the same results. In both scenarios, one person enters the room, and an identical person survives. Whatever happens in between is irrelevant. Since entering the room is a no-brainer in the first scenario, it must also be a no-brainer in the second scenario.

Applying a similar argument to the world of SOMA, Mark Sarang is making a no-brainer decision. One brain is scanned, and an identical brain survives.
01-24-2017 02:05 AM
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Abion47 Offline
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Post: #2
RE: The coin toss revisited

Neither of these scenarios is a coin toss. For it to be a coin toss, the result needs to be randomly chosen. i.e. after the room stops spinning, either the person in Chamber A or the person in Chamber B drops dead, with the survivor entering heaven. As it stands with how you presented them, there is no coin toss, as the outcome is fixed; in Scenario 1, the person in Champer A always enters heaven, and the person in Chamber B always dies, while in Scenario 2 the person in Chamber A always dies while the person in Chamber B always enters heaven.

So yeah, the choice in both these cases is blatantly obvious. I would always enter the chamber in Scenario 1 as I have nothing to lose and everything to gain, and I would never enter the chamber in Scenario 2 as I have nothing to gain and everything to lose. The second school of thought is fundamentally flawed because "same" and "identical" do not mean the same thing. Even if in Scenario 2 an identical person as me is entering heaven, it is still not me, so the two scenarios do not in any way have the same outcome.

(Warning, soapbox material below)
Spoiler below!
The common confusion around the issue of the coin flip regarding SOMA is two-fold. First, people assume that there is some form of randomness involved when Simon gets scanned. They think that when a copy is made, one of the Simons is the original and one is new, with no way to determine which is which. Those people, however, fail to grasp the meaning of the word "copy". When a Simon is scanned, that is all that happens - he is scanned. There is no process that rips his consciousness from his body, jumbles it up in a randomizer, then assigns it arbitrarily to either the old Simon body or the new Simon body. It is merely copied, and the copy is placed in a new vessel. It is exactly like if you put a document on a photocopier and hit print - the original stays in the scanning receptacle while a copy is produced and spat out the other side.

The second claim is that the coin flip is real because to the Simons it "feels" real. This claim is often accompanied with a hypothetical scenario in which a man in a room is copied and the copy is placed in a different but identical room, and while there is an original and a copy it is impossible to tell which is which. This is an accurate representation of a perceived coin toss scenario, but it is not what happens in the game. The original is in one distinct place, and the copy appears in another distinct place, and it is immediately obvious which is which, including to the Simons themselves. The only reason that Simon-3 at Omicron considered himself the "real" Simon is because of his ineptitude in grasping the concept. Catherine tried to explain it to him several times, but he just couldn't get it.

01-24-2017 02:47 AM
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GhylTarvoke Offline
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Post: #3
RE: The coin toss revisited

I agree that neither scenario is a coin toss. I also agree that the right answers are "yes" to #1 and "no" to #2. This has some unpleasant consequences, though.

If you find #2 unappealing, then I assume you would also find the following scenario unappealing, because it works like the room in #2. (A copy is created, and the original dies.)


Scenario #3:

A transporter works by breaking you down into atoms, then recreating you elsewhere with different atoms.


I also assume you would have no problem with the following scenario, because it doesn't create a copy. (It just changes your location.)


Scenario #4:

A transporter works by breaking you down into atoms, then recreating you elsewhere with the same atoms.


Now we have a dilemma. The only difference between #3 and #4 is which atoms are used to recreate you. But this isn't an important difference, because the atoms in our body are being replaced all the time, as Sarang explains:

Quote:Did you know that the human body consists of up to 75 trillion individual cells? They typically don't stay with us till we die - some live a few days while others live a few years. We're not affected by their short lifespans, as they're replaced by new cells which help sustain our bodies. I don't think anyone would argue that we ever lose our persona due to this process, yet we are clearly in a constant state of transformation.

In short: I think we're on the same side, but Sarang has a strong counterargument.
01-24-2017 03:47 AM
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cantremember Offline
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Post: #4
RE: The coin toss revisited

My school of thought is that Sarang was a fool, nearly religious zealot. He focused more on the spiritual aspect of "existing" and "being" and his theory on continuity that he forgot the technical aspect of it, and dragged many followers with him in his suicide cult. They believed they *needed* to die in order to exist in the Ark, or would at least speed up the process of getting there.
01-24-2017 10:41 AM
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Mudbill Offline
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Post: #5
RE: The coin toss revisited

I thought Mark was an idiot when I played it. If there were to be some sort of continuation of conscience by ending your life as you get scanned, it made FAR too little sense that such a continuation would have a grace period of "shortly after the scan."

If there were to be any sort of connection in this "switch" theory of his, I would assume that it wouldn't let you paste in the new entity, let it live for "a short time" and THEN paste in the old conscience to override it. If so, what conscience does it have in that grace period? What becomes of it afterwards? There are no connections between these entities after they have been created.

Later I've found a little more justification for his train of thought with the whole atoms thing, but nothing of that still gives any reasonable suggestions that it would ever work like he wanted it to. He must've been very delusional.

An interesting thing to think about is that Mark killed himself right after the scan. The scan of Mark within the Ark never killed himself, and never knew what became of his original self. If he were to communicate out to the others, he'd claim that he never needed to kill himself after all. Since you can't ask the perspective of his human self, that's the only perspective of Mark that matters. We know that Mark had this planned a while before his scan, so the Mark inside would've considered it and be prepared to do it, but since he appeared in the Ark after the scan, he'd agree that it was unnecessary.

(This post was last modified: 01-24-2017 11:29 AM by Mudbill.)
01-24-2017 11:25 AM
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Abion47 Offline
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Post: #6
RE: The coin toss revisited

Sarang's point isn't exactly a counterargument because the situation he describes and the situation that happens aren't the same. For example, in the teleporter scenario, you are getting physically destroyed and recreated somewhere else. First of all, this isn't an original and copy scenario, because for the process to occur, the original must be destroyed in order to gain the information necessary to create the copy as opposed to some arbitrary circumstance that just happens to make the original end up dead. Second, teleporters deal with the physical, and while in the physical sense humans are constantly regenerating with new cells, we don't become entirely new elements of consciousness every so often. This might actually be because it's a physical process, and because it's a gradual change that happens over time.

The ARK, on the other hand, is not recreating us from a soup of atoms. It is simulating our consciousness in a digital state, so that while our brain functions are entirely active, the matter that represents us is completely different. Also, the original is not deconstructed during the scanning process, but is instead harmlessly(ish) recorded by mechanical sensors. The person on the ARK is not even remotely similar on a basic level to the person who was sitting in the Pilot Seat, so the atom and cell comparisons are fundamentally flawed in that regard.

And personally, I think that the existence of Robin Bass' Mockingbird outside of Theta is living proof that Sarang was a quack.

(Interestingly enough, MinutePhysics has a video on the physics of cloning machines and teleporters, although he speaks in high science language so much in that video that even though I consider myself fairly scientifically literate, most of his explanation went over my head. If my understanding of the science is correct, though, it would mean that your first teleporter scenario is actually fundamentally impossible - you cannot create an exact copy of yourself without utterly obliterating the original, and the copy must be made from the same matter that came from the original [even below atoms, like on a quark and gluon level].)

(This post was last modified: 01-24-2017 12:32 PM by Abion47.)
01-24-2017 12:29 PM
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BenjiBenjamin123 Offline
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Posts: 2
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Post: #7
RE: The coin toss revisited

(01-24-2017 02:05 AM)GhylTarvoke Wrote:  Yet another thought experiment. Let me know what you think!


Scenario #1:

To get into heaven, you must pass through the circular Room of Mystery. A solid wall divides the room into two identical chambers, A and B. The entire room can spin so that either chamber leads into heaven.

You begin by entering Chamber A. Then, as the room spins rapidly, a perfect copy of you materializes in Chamber B. Finally, the person in Chamber B drops dead, while the other person walks out into heaven.

QUESTION: Would you enter the Room of Mystery?

Scenario #2:

To get into heaven, you must pass through the circular Room of Mystery. A solid wall divides the room into two identical chambers, A and B. The entire room can spin so that either chamber leads into heaven.

You begin by entering Chamber A. Then, as the room spins rapidly, a perfect copy of you materializes in Chamber B. Finally, the person in Chamber A drops dead, while the other person walks out into heaven.

QUESTION: Would you enter the Room of Mystery?


Here's one school of thought.
Spoiler below!
In the first scenario, entering the room is a no-brainer. You walk into Chamber A, and then from Chamber A into heaven. Whatever happens in Chamber B (someone materializing and then dying) is irrelevant.

In the second scenario, however, the "original you" always drops dead. So from the perspective of "original you" (to whom the question is posed), entering the room is a very bad idea.

Applying a similar argument to the world of SOMA, Mark Sarang is foolish to view the ARK as a "way out". He's just committing suicide.
Here's another school of thought.
Spoiler below!
The two scenarios have exactly the same results. In both scenarios, one person enters the room, and an identical person survives. Whatever happens in between is irrelevant. Since entering the room is a no-brainer in the first scenario, it must also be a no-brainer in the second scenario.

Applying a similar argument to the world of SOMA, Mark Sarang is making a no-brainer decision. One brain is scanned, and an identical brain survives.

I would Big Grin
02-08-2017 04:44 PM
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Corbent Offline
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Post: #8
RE: The coin toss revisited

*SPOILERS FOR "THE SIXTH DAY" AND "THE PRESTIGE" AND PROBABLY THE GAME ITSELF. FAIR WARNING*

Spoiler below!

This whole thing makes me think of movies like "The Sixth Day". The cloning process was in fact, pointless to the cloned individual, the fact that a copy of yourself will live on doesn't change that you are going to die and your conciousness will be lost. This applies to the mystery room proposed in the original post and I think it applies to the ARK project too.

It also reminds me of "The Prestige". This is a very concrete example of the coin toss live or die scenario. I really loved that movie for some reason. "It took courage to climb into that machine every night... not knowing... if I'd be the man in the box... or the prestige.". Now I don't think the machine working is random, that sometimes you are transported somewhere else, leaving a copy behind and sometimes a copy is made somewhere else. I think the machine has a fixed way of working but it's impossible to tell which is happening, since both are exact copies, they hold the same memories up to the point of climbing onto the machine.

The most logical for me is that the one that stays in place is the original, with a copy simply being made elsewhere. Which leads me to believe the magician was doomed from the very first try.

(This post was last modified: 05-04-2017 07:27 PM by Corbent.)
05-04-2017 07:03 PM
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