[extropy-chat] Fragmentation of computations

Russell Wallace russell.wallace at gmail.com
Mon Mar 26 02:46:19 UTC 2007

On 3/26/07, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:
> This is a crucial point, and, I think, a difficult one.  Thanks to anyone
> who can either explain it better or shed light on it.

I understand what you're saying, but I think your intuition is misleading
you. I think this is like the problem people had with Newtonian mechanics,
relativity and quantum mechanics, where intuition developed in one kind of
situation gives the wrong answer in another. (After all, in the situations
we usually encounter, our intuition that database lookups don't give rise to
consciousness is correct - just as our intuition that motion is perceptible,
time doesn't slow down when you walk faster and tennis balls can't jump
through the net without touching it is correct.)

The physics analogy holds a bit further I think. There's some interesting
work being done lately in terms of holographic models, M-theory, the physics
of black holes, the Bekenstein information bound etc, that suggests what
looks like local interaction in one frame of reference, is highly nonlocal
in another. In other words, if that sort of consideration is important then
we would have to equally claim we aren't conscious, because although the
physical processes in our brains look direct/local from our usual
perspective, in another equally valid frame of reference they are highly

I think the obvious way out of this is to say that if there's a causal chain
then there's a causal chain; it doesn't matter whether our intuitions happen
to be good at recognizing the particular shape of that chain.

(Note that this is very different from the Swamp Man scenario where
information is generated from random quantum fluctuations at an
improbability factor of two to the power of a zillion to one against. In
that scenario, it would be reasonable to call it non-causal.)
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