Re: Mindless Thought Experiments

From: Stathis Papaioannou (
Date: Tue Mar 04 2008 - 23:06:08 MST

On 05/03/2008, Krekoski Ross <> wrote:
> > Well, it has causal interactions in that you can stub your toe on it,
> > but it doesn't have a keyboard and a monitor. It doesn't meaningfully
> > interact with the outside environment, but the computer runs a
> > simulation in which conscious beings interact with a virtual
> > environment. This is really no different to the situation we find
> > ourselves in, interacting with a subset of our universe but unable to
> > interact with anything outside the universe. An actual Turing machine
> > with a simple program enumerating and running every possible program
> > (including the nonsense ones) would produce our universe, among many
> > others, and we would be conscious even though we would be hidden in
> > noise and beyond the reach of the beings running the simulation.
> I disagree--- if the ones running the simulation have access to the
> internal proceses of the machine, or have some way of deriving them based on
> observations of the machine itself, they have the ability to derive the
> simulated world as output, and consequently able to input.
> As well, the actions of conscious virtual beings inside the machine will
> subtly affect external aspects of the machine. specific bits change in
> specific locations, for example. Again, if this is so, then there is all of
> a sudden input and output, and communication with virtual beings is
> possible. There is no 'outside the universe', so to speak.

Not if the machine blindly lists and runs every possible program. See
for example this description by Hal Finney on the Everything mailing
list of a "universal dovetailer" which does just that:">
Among the UD programs is every possible simulable universe, but the
programmers of this machine have no access to any of these universes.
The situation is analogous to a program that outputs every possible
string of English letters: in the mess is a complete version of
"Hamlet", but you have no hope of finding it unless you know the
entire text already, in which case it is easier to just write it down.

Stathis Papaioannou

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