[extropy-chat] Role of Observer is not Relevant

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Wed Apr 4 13:28:22 UTC 2007

On Wed, Apr 04, 2007 at 10:58:25PM +1000, Stathis Papaioannou wrote:

>    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

This scenario is no longer resembling anything like machine parts
blown around by a hurricane spontaneously assembling into an Airbus, 
so we can as well change it to something else.

Macroscale self-assembly by mechanical means is something very delicate
(it takes a very controlled environment, and according assortment of
complementary parts), and it doesn't self replicate. Never, ever.
Shake Legos as long as you want you'd never get a large cohesive block,
however irregular. 

>    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*

Never, not as long as we're postulating infinite space and time.
Both are finite, as far as we know.

>    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.

Points in phase space are arbitrarily improbable, but regions in phase
space much less so, and if they're powerful attractors, damn probable,
in fact.

>    (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 agree, but fail to see the relevance. Assuming somebody intelligent
evolved, they wouldn't fail to observe themselves. 

>    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.

I disagree vigorously. Scenarios with a probability close to zero need
not be addressed in a finite resource context (which is what we're stuck
with, according to what we know today).

Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a> http://leitl.org
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