[extropy-chat] Role of Observer is not Relevant

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Wed Apr 4 12:58:25 UTC 2007

On 4/4/07, Eugen Leitl <eugen at leitl.org> wrote:

On Wed, Apr 04, 2007 at 10:59:39AM +1000, Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> >    deliberately. That is actually exactly what the human brain is: over
> >    billions of years, multiple chemical reactions have occurred
> >    completely at random ( i.e. there is no designer), and those that
> just
> >    happen to be better at self-replicating have survived. So although it
> >    seems almost impossible that a car would be thrown together with
> spare
> >    parts blowing in the wind, it is quite possible if the parts are
> >    blowing in the wind for billions of years.
> Absolutely not, because the system you described doesn't self-replicate.
> It's not evolutionary, merely stochastical. There's a world of a
> difference.

Fair enough: I should have said that over billions of years, the parts would
have combined in multiple random arrangements, some of which were stable and
self-replicating, and might eventually give rise to machines resembling
cars. Or let me be more specific: might eventually give rise to machines
closely resembling Honda Accords with John Coltrane playing on the sound
system. Now, that would be *extremely* unlikely; but it was also incredibly
unlikely that random mutation + natural selection should have lead over
billions of years to human beings having this particular online discussion -
and yet here we are. (It doesn't help much even if you could show that some
sort sort of intelligent species was likely to evolve: that particular
individuals of a particular species evolve is still vanishingly improbable.)

I think I've strayed a bit from my original purpose, which was to try to
persuade you that thought experiments in which extremely improbable things
happen by chance should not be summarily dismissed as irrelevant.

Stathis Papaioannou
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