Platonic Computation and OMs

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Thu Apr 03 2008 - 00:22:18 MDT

This thread, about Observer Moments and Computations
inherently taking place in "platonia" continues a discussion
from "The GLUT and Functionalism".
Stathis writes

> [Lee wrote]
>> Allow me to elaborate slightly. A rogue branch
>> of the ANP (Australian National Police) is
>> considering whether to
>> A. seize citizen Stathis Papaioannou and
>> torture him for an hour the old fashioned
>> way
>> B. by fantastical means collect patches of dust
>> in our (Tegmark) infinite level one universe
>> separated by millions or trillions of lightyears,
>> and load them sequentially into memory
>> in such a manner that the torture spoken of
>> in (A) is apparently reproduced, the sole
>> difference being that there is no actual causal
>> connection between the states (which is so
>> important in my view)
>> C. just save the time and expense of the loading
>> part of (B) and just leave them laying around
>> in the solar system here and there
>> D. don't bother even doing (C), but leave them
>> be, and cause the normal Stathis metabolism
>> to not operate for the hour, with only the
>> memories (i.e. the last state that has been
>> collected in (B) being implanted and normal
>> running resuming from there.
>> At any rate, are you indifferent to A, B, C, and D?
> My mind is apparently closely connected to my
> brain, not to patches of dust around the universe,

I am surprised that this is your view.

> and I worry a lot more about what happens to
> my brain than about what happens to the dust.
> But if the whole universe is actually a simulation
> in Platonia, all that means is that the computations
> giving rise to my mind through the process laws of
> physics -> Big Bang -> stars -> planets -> evolution
> of simple life etc. have much higher measure than
> those giving rise to a disembodied consciousness.
> Given the above, case (A) is interpreted as the
> computations giving rise to my mind taking an
> unpleasant turn for an hour.

Yes, that is the normal, familiar case.

> Case (B) is equivalent, since the resulting brain
> would behave in exactly the same way as in (A).

So it must be the localized sequential loading into
a specific piece of local hardware (e.g. a computer
or a body) that creates the unpleasantness here.

> But cases (C) and (D) are not constrained in any
> way to be associated with my mind. They could
> represent any and every computation,

and so therefore do not arouse the extreme
condemnation or dread you have of cases
(A) and (B), right?

Now (C) is the same as (B) in that isomorphic
representations of your (unpleasant) experience
are scattered here and there in the solar system.
I will later try to formulate intermediate cases
B1, B2, ... between them to try to isolate the
point at which a bad (B) type situation becomes
a (C) type situation to which you are basically
indifferent. Anyway, they hardly represent
"any and every computation", it seems to me.

> and the measure and kind of those computations in the
> dust giving rise to my mind is the same as the measure
> and kind of those computations in Platonia giving rise
> to my mind. The fact that any computation can be
> mapped onto any physical process, even the null state,
> is actually my justification for saying that every
> computation is necessarily implemented in Platonia.

This has always seemed to me the weak spot in Putnam's
argument. Others too have commented that it is "unnatural"
to force any one thing to "isomorphically" line up with
another---it is as though the structure is being *added*
by whatever or whoever is "finding" such a relation, i.e.,
the isomorphism relation is not inherent in the structure
at the outset.

But it could easily be that I don't understand Putnam or
your argument here fully. What is the defense to this last
criticism that I've recalled?


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