Paradox

Posted by | Zachariah | 20.10.10 | 3 Comments

Is this a paradox:

Assume I can predict future events. Now design an experiment as follows. Two boxes are displayed to me on a screen, A and B, and I must choose which one hides a 'prize'. By selecting one, the 'contents' are revealed. However, the experiment is rigged, and whichever box I choose, the computer will display the 'prize' in the other box.

Now, the outcome must be that the 'prize' is in A or B. If I predict the future outcome is A, I shall choose A. But the computer then dictates that the 'prize' is in B. But I predict this also, and therefore choose B. But then the computer dictates that the 'prize' will be in A. Ad infinitum.

Comments

3 Responses to “Paradox”

  1. peter
    21/10/10 06:23

    its certainly a pickle

  2. peter
    23/10/10 12:31

    after a proper thought beyond pickles i think that it isn't a paradox. everything does what it should (kind of). you "know" which choice - out of a or b - to make. the computer alters the sceneraio so as to prevent you from winning.
    so far so pleasant. and, as you said zack, it seems to be a deterministic system.

    the conundrun comes at the point of whether an entity that predicts the future would actually bother choosing; since it knows that whatever choice it makes will still result in it losing.

    i think its interesting to recast the situation with a two deities. one who is all-knowing but not all powerful and thus at the whims of another mischeivioeus deity who has the power to fuck with the laws of causality as befits them to their diabolical ends.
    in the this phrasing do you still it is a deterministic system? or have i altered the premise too far?

  3. Zachariah
    24/10/10 03:45

    There is certainly a problem of causality, i.e. retrocausality — if it is a paradox, or simply problematic, this may inhere in the concept of retrocausality itself.

    "the conundrun comes at the point of whether an entity that predicts the future would actually bother choosing; since it knows that whatever choice it makes will still result in it losing."

    We assumed as a premise that one could predict future events, perhaps only future events relating to oneself. In any case, I don't think the assumption that one can predict future events entails that one must also be able to obtain knowledge of other things — i.e. the rigging of the game. If that's true, the telepath would be under the impression that s/he could win the game. It seems like the belief in the honesty of the game must play a part in the paradox (if it is a paradox). Because, as you suggest, if the telepath knew the game was rigged, they wouldn't choose in the way that makes it seem problematic.

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