From: Stathis Papaioannou (email@example.com)
Date: Mon Apr 07 2008 - 01:39:50 MDT
On 07/04/2008, Lee Corbin <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> > > > My mind is apparently closely connected to my
> > > > brain, not to patches of dust around the universe,
> > > > and I worry a lot more about what happens to
> > > > my brain than about what happens to the dust.
> It's interesting to note the term "happens" in this sentence.
> That term denotes a process requiring temporal duration.
> Later (see below) you again emphasize some kind of
> temporal connection to the rest of the universe, and so
> you seem to be repudiating here what I always thought
> of as "the theory of dust" (e.g. taken from Permutation City).
But things "happen" in a timeless block universe as well. The fact
that time seems to flow is not evidence against a block universe.
> > > > 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.
> You evidently do believe that our whole universe (the
> level one Tegmark infinite universe) is a "simulation in
> Platonia", and the process
> physics -> Big Bang -> stars -> planets -> evolution
> is much more important in emulating you than would
> be non-temporal (timeless) patterns exhibited here
> and there randomly in the universe.
Yes, that's the way the simulation appears to have turned out. An
interesting question to ask is, what is the point of simulating the
intricate workings of my brain? It might seem computationally more
efficient to make my head solid like a potato, at least until the
point in the simulation when someone takes a look inside. However,
there is no reason to postulate a godlike programmer interested in
simulating humans. The only starting premise is that all possible
computations are necessarily implemented in Platonia. This leads to a
virtual multiverse, and the problem becomes to show that I am more
likely to find myself conscious as a result of the playing out of the
laws of physics as we know them than as an elaborate, as if hand-coded
> > 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.
> And it wouldn't matter if we did happen to? After all,
> that would only represent some work on the part of
> a probably long-ago dead Alien civilization which had
> read meaning into a process where it would have been
> possible to read any meaning into it whatsoever. Oh, but then perhaps I
> have got you wrong:
> > 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.
> Yes, but how likely do you consider it to be that
> any given rock (for the sake of concreteness, weighing on Earth about the
> same as a human
> being) is actually implementing conscious beings
> with measure that is at least a significant fraction
> of the computation that your body or mine is
> implementing to give us experience?
You have to distinguish between the computer and the computed. Most of
the computations underpinning your consciousness are of a form that
makes it seem as if your mind is generated by your brain. But your
mind, your brain and the rocks are all actually part of the grand
simulation in Platonia. Within this simulation we could take any
particular object, such as a rock, and consider that it is
implementing any computation at all, including computations that give
rise to your consciousness. However, these computations don't change
For the sake of concreteness, let's say that 1% of the computations in
Platonia give rise to processes in which you find yourself a
conscious, biological being. Then 1% of the computations being
implemented by a rock will also give rise to the same computations,
since there is no basis for saying that the mix of rock computations
will be any different from the general mix of computations in
Platonia. Thus, you don't gain or lose anything by creating or
destroying the rock. On the other hand, if you create a copy of
yourself, that would mean that 2% of the computations in Platonia are
now giving rise to processes in which you find yourself a conscious
being, biological or cybernetic, as the case may be.
> And following up that question, surely the entire
> mass of the Earth's iron core must implement
> you or me to such a tremendous extent that our
> present metabolisms are relatively of almost zero significance?
If any physical process can map onto any computation, then the one
process can map onto an infinity of parallel computations. The main
interesting consequence of this idea, as I keep stressing, is to show
that all computations are necessarily implemented by virtue of their
status as Platonic objects. You don't make a difference to the measure
of Platonic objects by counting the kilograms.
> > 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.
> If it is sufficient that these mappings exist in the
> abstract---which as a mathematical platonist
> I surely do agree with you that they do---then
> again, I don't quite follow what the significance
> is of the fate of the particular Stathis organism
> as it presently runs in Australia is all about.
If I die then that means the computations underpinning my
consciousness come to an end. However, I don't think I can die, since
there is always some possible multiverse future in which I continue to
have experiences, even if it is one of very low measure.
-- Stathis Papaioannou
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