Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Pascal's Muggle, Negative Probababilities & the Book of Job

Suppose a beggar asks you for 5 quid in return for saving the lives of billions in a Universe he controls. You demur. He then shows you that he is a Matrix Lord and does in fact control such a Universe and only asked your for a fiver because he is running an experiment in behavioral Econ re evidential decision theory.

This is the 'not even wrong' scenario described by Elizier Yudkowsky over at Lesswrong.
My response is-

You may be aware of the use of negative probabilities in machine learning and quantum mechanics and, of course, Economics. For the last, the appearance of a 'Matrix Lord' has such a large negative probability that it   indicates the existence of highly possible as yet unspecified possible states of the world such that the decision situation is swamped and no money changes hands on the basis of the agent's decision theory.

Thus Pascal's muggle isn't interesting- it's a wank for nerds who get off on words like 'gogoolplex' and  random invocations of Kosmogorov complexity theory.
On the other hand, the reverse situation- Job's complaint against God- is profound. It shows why variables with negative probabilities tend to disappear out of discourse to be replaced by the difference between two independent 'normal' variables- in the Biblical case, univocal Cosmic Justice is replaced by the I-Thou relationship of 'God' & 'Man'.

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