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Wizard
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Wizard
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December 23rd, 2010 at 5:21:13 PM permalink
A being, who you believe to have superior predictive powers, makes you an offer. Before you are two boxes, identical in appearance. Within one box, let us call it 'Box A', there is either one million dollars or nothing. Within the other box, 'Box B', there is definitely one thousand dollars.

The being, whom in deference to tradition we will call the Newcomb Being, will allow you to either take both boxes, or just Box A.

Twenty-four hours ago, the Newcomb being made a prediction about what you would choose. At this point, it placed the money in the boxes. If the Newcomb Being predicted that you would take both boxes, it left nothing for you in Box A and the $1000 in Box B. If the Newcomb Being predicted that you would only take Box A, it would leave the million dollars in it, as well as the thousand dollars in Box B. If the being predicts you will base your choice on a random event (like flipping a coin), it will leave Box A empty.

Now you have grounds to believe that in such matters, the Newcomb Being has a success rate on predictions of about 90%.

Do you choose box A only, or both?

Wording above taken from greylabyrinth.com.
It's not whether you win or lose; it's whether or not you had a good bet.
EvenBob
EvenBob
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December 23rd, 2010 at 5:29:34 PM permalink
Quote: Wizard




Do you choose box A only, or both?

.



Oviously you take both so you have a guarantee of getting at least a grand. Always go for the sure thing, gambling is for idiots.
"It's not enough to succeed, your friends must fail." Gore Vidal
Switch
Switch
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December 23rd, 2010 at 5:34:50 PM permalink
My initial thought was to take Box A so I will hope that the Newcomb will predict that move and place the $1m in Box A.

By taking both, I feel that I will either get $1,000 or $1,001,000 - by taking just A then I stand to get $0 or $1,000,000.

Of course, a lot may depend on how the predictive powers were utilised - for example, stepping into the future and returning back to present would give 100% correct prediction and would alter my decision.

Also, the question states 'That you believe ...' - quite a few people think that John Edward can 'connect' with 'the other side' so I suppose it would also depend on the correlation between your belief and the probability of it being accurate.

Anyway, I still pick both boxes for now.

(Any chance you can 'switch' if you don't like it :-) ).
weaselman
weaselman
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December 23rd, 2010 at 5:36:35 PM permalink
If you never take insurance in BJ, you take box A to maximize your EV. If you sometimes go for even money, then you take both boxes, to be sure to make something, whatever was predicted. :)
"When two people always agree one of them is unnecessary"
Wizard
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Wizard
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December 23rd, 2010 at 5:49:58 PM permalink
Quote: Switch

Of course, a lot may depend on how the predictive powers were utilised - for example, stepping into the future and returning back to present would give 100% correct prediction and would alter my decision.



We should not assume time travel, for purposes of the problem. The question doesn't state how you know the Newcomb Being is correct 90% of the time. For the sake of argument, Let's assume that it has done this thousands of times before, and the well-documented results show a predictive success rate of 90%.
It's not whether you win or lose; it's whether or not you had a good bet.
JerryLogan
JerryLogan
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December 23rd, 2010 at 6:22:28 PM permalink
I take both. To do anything else means you are dumber than a rock.
Doc
Doc
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December 23rd, 2010 at 7:19:01 PM permalink
Quote: JerryLogan

I take both. To do anything else means you are dumber than a rock.

Jerry, I agree with your first sentence. I may agree with the second sentence, but stating it that way is not my style.
MathExtremist
MathExtremist
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December 23rd, 2010 at 7:21:17 PM permalink
My initial reaction is to take just box A, because the Newcomb being will be 90% right in predicting that I'd try to maximize my EV, which means I'm going for the 1M rather than being greedy, trying for 1,001,000 and getting only 1000. I'm sure there's more to it, but this is a 30-second impression.
"In my own case, when it seemed to me after a long illness that death was close at hand, I found no little solace in playing constantly at dice." -- Girolamo Cardano, 1563
EvenBob
EvenBob
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December 23rd, 2010 at 7:37:36 PM permalink
Quote: MathExtremist

My initial reaction is to take just box A,



There is probably some convoluted reason to take A, but people who pass up a sure thing for a possible pig in a poke usually get what they deserve. Lets see what Mister 190 IQ says, this would be an easy problem if there was a Will Hunting on here. Oh wait, we have the next best thing.
"It's not enough to succeed, your friends must fail." Gore Vidal
Wizard
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Wizard
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December 23rd, 2010 at 7:41:40 PM permalink
Quote: MathExtremist

My initial reaction is to take just box A, because the Newcomb being will be 90% right in predicting that I'd try to maximize my EV, which means I'm going for the 1M rather than being greedy, trying for 1,001,000 and getting only 1000. I'm sure there's more to it, but this is a 30-second impression.



How is the problem a random variable? It states the boxes have already been filled. Could this not be reworded that you get box A no matter what, the choice is whether or not you refuse box B?
It's not whether you win or lose; it's whether or not you had a good bet.

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