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LostInParadise's avatar

What do you think of this solution to Newcomb's Paradox?

Here is the well known paradox, which keeps philosophers up at night. You are presented with two boxes. One is transparent and you can clearly see that it contains $1000. The other is opaque and may or may not contain a million dollars. You are given a choice of either taking just the second box or taking both boxes.

Here is the hitch. A near perfect computer simulation has been run of your life to predict your choice. The second box will contain the million dollars only if the computer thinks that you will just take the one box.

People split pretty much down the middle as to whether to take one box or two.

I am going to add a seemingly irrelevant twist to the problem. The whole thing is run on national television and you are the first ever contestant. I say that in this case, take the one box.

Suppose you choose two boxes. The possibilities are:
1. The second box is empty. You get a crumby $1000. You show yourself to be a greedy bastard on national television and are embarrassed to be outfoxed by the computer.
2. You get the extra million dollars. Everybody thinks you are clever for beating the system, but they don’t much like you.

Suppose you choose the one box. The possibilities are:
1. You get a million dollars.
2. You expose the computer as a fraud, which is definitely worth the $1000 you forego. Everyone gets your sympathy for being a naive trusting soul. You get your fifteen minutes of fame and maybe a commercial deal worth far more than the $1000.

The choice is obvious.

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