Re: Platonic Computation and OMs

From: Stathis Papaioannou (
Date: Thu Apr 03 2008 - 04:28:05 MDT

On 03/04/2008, Lee Corbin <> 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.

The difference between B and C (or D) is that B results in a structure
that interacts with the local universe, like A. That it be able to
interact with its environment in a meaningful way is the reason why
the structure of an implementation of a computation is important. If
the structure of a conventional computer is sufficiently damaged then
the computation in its useful, interactive, recognisable form comes to
end. But if we are talking about a computation scattered in frames
throughout time and space, it was never useful, recognisable or
interactive to begin with; if it computes a consciousness, that
consciousness will be in an inputless virtual world. And since this
computation was never going to interact with its environment anyway,
nothing is lost by disrupting the frames any which way. A hypothetical
observer could look at any patch of dust and say that he can see how,
under a certain complicated transformation, it is isomorphic to any
given computation.

> > 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.

Given any apparently random structure or process, there exists in the
possibility space of alien semantics a printout which gives it any
particular meaning. Now, while it is true that if we had the
appropriate printout, the vibrations of the atoms in a rock could be
seen to spell out the King James Bible, or simulate tomorrow's weather
in Tokyo, it is only of trivial interest, because we don't have that
printout. But if we consider that the rock is implementing
computations which lead to conscious observers, this is of greater
interest; for there is no reason why the consciousness of the
observers should be contingent on whether we have the printout or not.
Thus, all possible computations are implemented by mapping onto any
physical process. The structure is mostly contained in the mapping,
but in the interesting case of computations containing observers, it
is sufficient that the mapping merely exist in the abstract, rather
than as a hardcopy or even in the mind of an external observer.

Stathis Papaioannou

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