[ExI] An extropian Merry Christmas to Everybody !

giovanni santost santostasigio at yahoo.com
Mon Dec 24 18:58:12 UTC 2007

Independently of your religious views, this is a symbolic time of the year, time to celebrate the cycles of nature, a time full of light and hope, all universal, eternal values so to all the religious, spiritual and even materialistic extropians: Merry Christmas to all !

citta437 at aol.com wrote:
{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.

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