Anthropic Bias: Observation Selection Effects in Science and by Nick Bostrom

By Nick Bostrom

This paintings attracts consciousness to convinced different types of biases that permeate many components of technological know-how. info are restricted not just through obstacles of size tools but in addition by way of the precondition that there's a few certainly located observer there to have the information (and to construct the instruments). this easy fact seems to have wide-ranging implications for fields as assorted as cosmology, evolution concept, imperfect keep in mind difficulties in video game concept, theology, site visitors research, the rules of thermodynamics and the translation of quantum mechanics. but, demanding paradoxes lie in ambush. The notorious Doomsday argument is this sort of, however it is simply the top of an iceberg.

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After examining your surroundings and learning about how the experiment was set up, you begin to wonder about whether there’s anything surprising about the fact that the shortest straw was drawn. This example shares with the fine-tuning case the feature that nobody would have been there to contemplate anything if the “special” outcome had failed to obtain. So what should we say about this case? In order for Carlson and Olsson’s criticism to work, we would have to say that the person waking up in the incubator should not think that there is anything surprising at all about the shortest straw having been selected.

But more on this in a later chapter. ) When stating that the finding that ␣ exists does not give us reason to think that there are many rather than few observer-containing universes, we have kept inserting the proviso that ␣ not be “special”. This is an essential qualification. For there clearly are some features F such that if we knew that ␣ has them then finding that α exists would support the claim that there are a vast number of observer-containing universes. For instance, if you know that ␣ is a universe in which a message is inscribed in every rock, in the distribution of fixed stars seen from any life-bearing planet, and in the microstructure of common crystal lattices, spelling: “God created this uni6 By “general hypotheses” we here mean: hypotheses that don’t entail anything preferentially about α.

In w1 there is one big universe, a, and one small universe, d; in w2 there is one big, b, and one small, e; and in w3 there is one big, c, and one small, e. Now suppose you learn that you are in universe e. This rules out w1. It thus gives you information about the big universe—it is now more likely to be either b or c than it was before you learnt that the little universe is e. That is, P(“The big universe is b or c”|K&“The little universe is e”) > P(“The big universe is b or c”|K). No assumption whatever is made here about the universes being causally related.

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