[extropy-chat] Fragmentation of computations

Russell Wallace russell.wallace at gmail.com
Mon Mar 26 20:17:36 UTC 2007

On 3/26/07, Eugen Leitl <eugen at leitl.org> wrote:
> How can you have a conversation with an entity which has a nonlinear
> spacetime plot? The Hash Life springs to the target state, doing something
> highly nonlinear in-between.

By appropriate choice of target state. For conversation, you only need a
readout every X clock cycles, for a value of X that depends on the
implementation details but will in any case be significantly greater than 1;
and as you say, the computation in between will jump back and forth in a way
that looks very strange to our eyes. If the objections raised were correct,
that would make Hash-Life Man a mostly-zombie - an entity even more
implausible than a total zombie, once you start asking what it would feel
like if you were being run in that state.

Here's another reductio ad absurdum: suppose the Simulation Argument is
true, and we are in fact all Hash-Life Men right now. Suppose furthermore
the Simulator flips a switch to turn off the Hash Life optimization and
change the program to straight linear computation. Now we've gone from being
90-something% zombies to being fully conscious, surely a marvellous boost.
Do we sing in rapturous joy as the wonder of full consciousness floods
through our minds? But by hypothesis the output remains identical to what it
would have been. Do we silently gibber in panic as our bodies go about their
daily routine, oblivious to our attempts to cry out in joy followed by
consternation? At this rate conscious rocks are starting to look downright
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