[extropy-chat] Fragmentation of computations

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Tue Apr 3 10:45:57 UTC 2007

On 4/3/07, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:

> Returning to your example of driving to avoid an accident, imagine you
> > are a being in a Life simulation. You come to a point where you can
> > either slow down or keep going and run over a pedestrian. You decide
> > to slow down, because you think that running people over is bad and
> > because you think you have control over your life. In reality, you could
> > not do other than slow down: that was determined in the Life universe
> > with the force of a mathematical proof. Your feeling that you could have
> > acted otherwise is entirely illusory, as you could no more have changed
> > what was to happen than you could, through much mental straining, have
> > changed 16 into a prime number.
> That's right.  If we are living in a deterministic universe and something
> happens, then we must admit that from an external viewpoint or
> according to the physics running our simulation, what happened was
> totally inevitable.
> But see Dennett's nice discussion of "evitability" in his book Freedom
> Evolves.  He considers exactly this case, namely, a conscious Life
> entity, and he shows to my satisfaction that there is a strong, meaningful
> sense in which one not should regard future hazards as inevitable.

Then in the same sense in Platonia, future hazards are not inevitable, since
after all the Life game in which the hazard is or isn't avoided is a
Platonic object and its outcome is not changed by implementing it

More generally, I see Dennett's compatibilism as a sort of apology for
determinism, reframing "free will" so that we can tell ourselves we have it
even though the obvious conclusion is that it is just an illusion. In other
words, if in fact free will were just an illusion due to the fact that we
don't know what we're going to do until we do it, how would the universe, or
our experience of it, be any different? If the answer is "it wouldn't", then
what purpose is served by the concept of free will other than to make us
feel better? I am quite happy to drop not only free will but also ideas such
as absolute morality, a self persisting through time, and even a separate
physical universe if the only reason to hang on to them is an emotional one.
At the same time, I am quite happy to continue living my life as if all
these things are in fact real, and I think it is better to live an illusion
rather than a delusion.

Stathis Papaioannou
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