[ExI] Fwd: The Observer as the observed

citta437 at aol.com citta437 at aol.com
Sun Dec 23 15:21:09 UTC 2007

-----Original Message-----
From: citta437 at aol.com
To: extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org
Sent: Sun, 23 Dec 2007 9:09 am
Subject: The Observer as the observed

{My reply/thoughts in parenthesis after the qouted message below} 

"The Message is the Medium" 

If a mind can survive repeated radical restructurings, infusion into
and out of different types of hardware and storage media, and is
ultimately a mathematical abstraction, does it require hardware at all?
{Yes and no. Yes because the mind's flexible characteristic responds to
processes of extropic practices i.e. attentiveness to changes in
macrospace as interconnected in microspace/quantum world.} 

Suppose the message describing a person is written in some static
medium, like a book. A superintelligent being, or just a big computer,
reading and understanding the message might be able to reason out the
future evolution of the encoded person, not only under a particular set
of experiences but also under various alternative circumstances.
Existence in the thoughts of a beholder is no more abstract than as a
transformed person-program described in the previous section, but it
does introduce an interesting new twist. 

{Exactly as the observer becomes the observed so to speak}. 

The superintelligent being has no obligation to accurately model every
single detail of the beheld, and may well choose to skip the boring
parts, to jump to conclusions that are obvious to it, and to lump
together different alternatives it does not choose to distinguish. This
looseness in the simulation can also allow some time reversed action -
our superintelligent being may choose a conclusion then reason
backwards, deciding what must have preceded it. Authors of fiction
often take such liberties with their characters. The same parsimony of
thought applies to the parts of the environment of the contemplated
person that are themselves being contemplated. Applied a certain way,
this parsimony will affect the evolution of the simulated person and
his environment, and may thus be noticeable to him. Note that the
subjective feelings of the simulated person are a part of the
simulation, and with them the contemplated person feels as real in this
implementation as in any other. {This happens when the subjective meet
the objective process as a thought without the thinker. Nature does not
require an owner of a thought.Thoughts/abstrractions float in the
spaces/synapses within the brain like a messenger/transmitter who does
not own the message.} 

It happens that quantum mechanics describes a world where unobserved
events happen in all possible ways (another way of saying no decision
is made as to which possibility happens), and the superposition of all
these possibilities itself has observable effects. The connection of
this observation with those of the previous paragraph leads us into
murky philosophical waters. 

To get even muddier, ask the question implicit in the title of this
section. If the subjective feelings of a person are part of the
person-message, and if the evolution of the message is implicit in the
message itself, then aren't the future experiences of the person
implicit in the message? And wouldn't this mere mathematical existence
feel the same to the person encoded as being simulated in a more
substantial way? I don't think this is mere sophistry, but I'm not
prepared to take it any further for now. 

Immortality and Impermanence 

Wading back into the shallows, let's examine a certain dilemma of
existence, presently overshadowed by the issue of personal death, that
will be paramount when practical immortality is achieved. It's this: in
the long run survival requires change in directions not of your own
choosing. Standards escalate with the growth of the inevitable
competitors and predators for each niche. In a kind of cosmic Olympic
games the universe molds its occupants towards its own distant and
mysterious specifications. 

An immortal cannot hope to survive unchanged, only to maintain a
limited continuity over the short run. Personal death differs from this
inevitability only in its relative abruptness. Viewed on a larger scale
we are already immortal, as we have been since the dawn of life. Our
genes and our culture pass continuously from one generation to the
next, subject only to incremental alterations to meet the continuous
demand for new world records in the cosmic games. 

In the very long run the ancestral individual is always doomed as its
heritage is nibbled away to meet short term demands. It slowly mutates
into other forms that could have been reached from a range of starting
points; the ultimate in convergent evolution. It's by this reasoning
that I concluded earlier that it makes no ultimate difference whether
our machines carry forward our heritage on their own, or in partnership
with direct transcriptions of ourselves. Assuming long term survival
either way, the end results should be indistinguishable, shaped by the
universe and not by ourselves. 

Since change is inevitable, I think we should embrace rather than
retard it. By so doing we improve our day to day survival odds,
discover interesting surprises sooner, and are more prepared to face
any competition. The cost is faster erosion of our present
constitution. All development can be interpreted as incremental death
and new birth, but some of the fast lane options make this especially
obvious, for instance the possibility of dropping parts of one's memory
and personality in favor of another's. Fully exploited, this process
results in transient individuals constituted from a communal pool of
personality traits. Sexual populations are effective in part because
they create new genetic individuals in very much this way. As with
sexual reproduction, the memory pool requires dissolution as well as
creation to be effective. So personal death is not banished, but it
does lose its poignancy because death by submergence into the memory
pool is reversible in the short run. 

{The nature of thoughts is impermanence. We as thoughts desire 
immortality not knowing we are already immortal as quantum processes 
have no beginning nor end.}

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