Re: Simulation argument in the NY Times

From: Matt Mahoney (
Date: Sat Aug 18 2007 - 11:37:03 MDT

--- Norman Noman <> wrote:

> > Biases like these which are built into the brain override logic. Logic
> > tells
> > you that the brain is a computer. Logic tells you that it does not
> > require a
> > consciousness to function. Logic tells you there is no test to
> > distinguish
> > between an actual consciousness and a belief in consciousness. But your
> > bias
> > says "I exist". This conflict leads to bizarre conclusions. For example,
> > uploading. If you make an identical copy of yourself and then the
> > original
> > dies, then your consciousness transfers to the copy. But what if you
> > don't
> > die? Which of you is "you"?
> Oh, what does this have to do with ANYTHING, lloyd?

Actually, I wrote that. The question was about limitations on what we can
think, so I gave an example.

> So yes, there is a powerful intelligence controlling your thought. It is
> > evolution. The information content of all the DNA on earth far exceeds
> > that
> > of your brain. Logic says your brain is a computer. But if you actually
> > believed it, your DNA would not propagate.
> Evolution is not an intelligence, and there is no evolved mental block
> stopping us from believing our brains are computers. It's not something
> which would come up in the ancestral environment, and it's not something
> which even particularly influences reproductive success today. As a matter
> of fact I DO believe my brain is a computer.

Evolution is not intelligent? How do you define intelligence? Evolution
created humans out of a mix of simple chemicals. I would say that is pretty

Suppose you wanted to exterminate all life on earth. Who do you think would
win, you or evolution?

> The kind of difficulty you are talking about, in correctly framing
> philosophical problems, is something we can overcome with sufficient time
> and clarity. It is far from being an absolute mental block.

Of course. I too believe that my brain is a computer. I also believe that I
am conscious. These two beliefs result in a contradiction, so I know that at
least one of them must be wrong.

-- Matt Mahoney,

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