Monday, February 28, 2011

Decision-Making with Fractal Futures

IF we live in a "multiverse" (which, for purposes of this blog, means a universe with branching timelines) human decision-making becomes a logical exercise with some interesting implications for people who still believe in a "monoverse" (a universe with only one timeline).

In a multiverse, one may assume that EVERY possible future will become actual. This means "you" will experience an accident EVERY time you drive your car. I put "you" in quotes because "you" also won't have an accident--some of your timelines arrive safely at your destination while others end very badly.

Would you rather be wearing your seatbelt when they pull you from the wreckage of your car? It won't help you much in the timeline where you die on impact. It won't help in the timeline where the car rolls over and you might have been thrown free if you weren't strapped in. But it will help in a lot of accidents--in fact, it might save your life.

So here's what makes a multiverse interesting: you only get to climb into the car once. All the timelines start the same way. You either buckle your seatbelt or you don't--and you will be glad (or sad) you did (or didn't) in every foreseeable scenario.

A rational decision-maker in a multiverse should act in such a way as to minimize regret. If he doesn't buckle his seatbelt, he will be thrown free of his car just before it explodes in one timeline, but will be paralyzed from the neck down in another. Traffic statistics show that the sum total of sorrows will be lower if he buckles his seatbelt.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I'm not dead yet!

Despite 13 months of silence, the rumors of my passing are exaggerated.