Re: Unbounded happiness

From: Krekoski Ross (
Date: Sat Apr 26 2008 - 23:00:42 MDT

On Sat, Apr 26, 2008 at 8:03 PM, Lee Corbin <> wrote:

> let's not confuse intuitions about consciousness with
> > computability. There seems to be no real reason
> > aside from energy requirements and heat why a machine
> > can't be any arbitrary size and still perform computations
> > that take advantage of increase in complexity. You would
> > possibly eventually get diminishing returns, but consider
> > that the speed of neurons in our brain is significantly slower
> > than light, i.e. there is delay, and it doesn't seem to be an issue.
> >
> While I'm not sure I understand every word of that, it's it clear

Yah, I wondered about that afterwards. It was 4:00am.

> that if my neurons *did* operate at c, then I'd be thinking a lot
> faster? Bottom line: large brains should have no reason to
> choose to operate slowly, so therefore thought will be conducted
> at c, and therefore what an "individual sentience" is will be limited
> in size. Now yes, I can even now perform "library inquiries",
> get an answer to a math problem by letting my computer run
> long enough, but in neither case is the library or my computer to
> be considered part of me.

See thats the issue that I have with it-- what do we want to consider as
part of you right this moment? Firstly we have an autonomic nervous system
that we are completely unaware of-- is that part of you? What about your own
memories, some of which are not consciously accessible right now? What if I
were to create a neural implant that vastly improved the rate at which I
could exchange information with the outside world, connect to a series of
other computers, or individuals with similar implants. What consequence does
this have for my own individuality? (I dont know)

Secondly, when we think about something, we dont perform the calculation
instantly, and every region of our brain is not in instant communication
with every other region. I dont know that we understand the human cognitive
architecture well enough to even say what part of the brain firing at any
given moment correlates with the experience of thinking. We dont know that
every neuron contributes equally to the conscious experience, or even if
what neurons *do* contribute to the experience of thinking at point in time
t are the same neurons that contribute to the experience of thinking at t +

Lets assume that we have a solar system brain that is massively parallel in
a way analogous to our own brains. Is it so inconceivable to have a scenario
whereby the cognitive experience is 'slowed down'? Lets say that the time
it takes an electrical signal to propagate across my cognitive apparatus is
T. Lets also say that a given 'thought' consists of n iterations of a neural
cascade, i.e. taking n * T time. Well in a solar system brain, T is simply a
lot larger of a value, but to the brain itself, does it make sense to say
that the fundamental experience of that thought is any different? It seems
to be just as valid to say that, subjectively speaking, to the solar system
brain, time simply passes by at a different rate.

If we compare our brains to the cluster of nerves in insects for example--
do we have a less coherent experience since a neural signal takes longer to
propagate across our cognitive apparatus than it does theirs?

You say that "individual sentience is limited in size" -- well imagine we
create a solar system computer. Does it then just spontaneously generate a
myriad smaller 'sentiences' within it? where does one begin and the next one

If you feel uneasy about talking about subjective experience (I do, it makes
too many assumptions) we can still just talk about a solar-system sized
computer, and how efficiently it processes. I dont see any reason why size
would become a significant barrier. It would of course have a minimum amount
of time that it would take to perform a calculation (the same is true of our
own brains) but the sheer degree of parallel computing power would likely
override the speed of light constraint in terms of efficiency of


> Lee

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