[extropy-chat] Role of Observer is not Relevant

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Fri Apr 6 01:17:07 UTC 2007

On 4/5/07, Jef Allbright <jef at jefallbright.net> wrote:

>  I was referring to certain philosophical arguments, such as John Searle's
> > Chinese room, which is wrong for philosophical reasons, not because of
> the
> > undoubted practical difficulties it would pose. Engineering and
> philosophy
> > are not the same discipline.
> I don't understand your reasoning here, since Searle's Chinese Room
> doesn't involve "extremely improbable things."  It's wrong for quite
> different reasons.
> I do understand that there's a binary distinction between "slightly
> possible" and "impossible", but that doesn't seem to apply here.

Eugen argues that you can't simulate a brain by hand; Frank Tipler in "The
Physics of Immortality" calculates that the energy requirements alone would
forbid such a thing, at least in real time. But, as I think you see, that
misses the point of the argument.

Extreme difficulty despite purposeful effort is a different situation to
extreme improbability given random processes. An example of the latter would
be a Turing-equivalent machine implementing my brain being realised by
cosmic dust clouds. It's far from clear that this could never happen (what
if the universe is very large, or long-lived? what if there are multiple
universes? what about the fact that there are multiple different abstract
machines implementing a particular computation, each multiply realisable?),
but even if it could be shown that it was as close to impossible as doesn't
matter, that doesn't invalidate it as a thought experiment which says
interesting things about functionalism and personal identity.

Stathis Papaioannou
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