[extropy-chat] Fragmentation of computations

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Tue Mar 27 14:10:11 UTC 2007

Russell writes

> > I am merely asking whether some entity is having an
> > experience; I start with the principle that for a man the
> > answer is "Yes" and for rocks and space-dust the
> > answer is "No".  We also, presumably, agree that
> > playing back a movie provides none of the characters
> > any conscious experience. Neither Rick nor Humphrey
> > Bogart is either saddened or exhilerated at all when
> > reruns of Casablanca are shown.
> Yes, but be careful about letting your intuition jump to
> conclusions from that - the recording of Casablanca
> doesn't contain the information about internal brain states
> that would be required to produce conscious experience,
> irrespective of how the playback was done.

Oh, yes, but clearly that information could be added to make
a super movie. Merely visually, for example, certain screens
full of 1's and 0's might fully capture either the character's or
the actor's frame of mind, or state of brain.

> > I am trying to solve a certain problem, so I'll put it
> > to you, then. Suppose that there are infinitely many
> > galaxies (so that numbers don't cramp my style here)
> > and that there is an ordering G1, G2, G3, G4 ...
> > such that between G1 and G2 lies a patch of dust
> > spread out over many many lightyears that is
> > manifestly Russell Wallace the way that he was
> > on October 7, at 12:00:00.000000000 seconds.
> > And that between G3 and G4 there is another
> > unmistakable image of Russell, this time 1 billionth
> > of a second past that same time.
> >
> > Suppose that this sequence G1, G2, G3, ... extends
> > for the entire 5 minute interval of October 7 from
> > 12:00:00.000000000   to  12:05:00.000000000.
> > So the universe is exhibiting a succession of images
> > of you over that five minute part of your life.  Is there
> > or is there not any experience taking place out there
> > in that sequence of patterns?
> Okay. I'll add two more assumptions (both of which will
> be met somewhere - indeed infinitely often - in an infinite
> universe), making them explicit to make sure our intuitions
> aren't smuggling anything past customs without declaring it:
> - The "unmistakable images" aren't just superficial resemblance
> of external shape, but contain complete models of internal
> brain state, in a form that could be decoded without special
> knowledge.

Yes, fine.

> - They're lined up in a nice neat row so that the information
> about me doesn't have to be contained in the choice of
> coordinates of the dust patches.

Well   :-)   arguing about that ought to be a later step!   As for
now, yes, they're lined up in neat rows.  Unfortunately this is
highly improbable, whereas in our real universe, dust patches
between adjacent pairs of infinitely many galaxies almost
certainly exist that exhibit your pattern.

> Suppose the dust patches - or hard disks containing snapshots
> of an upload's runtime, or glass blocks containing frames of
> Life Man's runtime or whatever - are laid out along the X axis
> in your chosen coordinate system.
> In this scenario, my time coordinate is at right angles to yours,
> your X is my T. So in my time, I am indeed having an experience.
> In your time, only you are having an experience, because I'm not
> living in your time.

This equating of a time dimension and space dimensions I have
never agreed with, by the way.  But the exercise has served its
purpose. It exposed a fundamental disagreement. (For me,
the linearly layed out states (which could be trillions of light
years away from each other) don't exhibit what is crucial to
consciousness or experience:  information flow, causality.

Yes, Russell, this has helped.  Thanks.


> - The Platonist view in which the Tegmark multiverse is considered to exist. Then there is (in a timeless/mathematical sense of 
> the word "is") a region of the multiverse in which I am having that particular five minutes of experience, and this will always be 
> true irrespective of whether you have in front of you a representation of those five minutes.

> - The Popperian view in which we are not interested in metaphysics, but focus on theories that are falsifiable. The original 
> question as posed is not falsifiable, therefore not interesting. To make it so, we must find a way to test it. The obvious way to 
> test whether an entity is conscious is to have a conversation with it. To do that, the arrows of time have to be aligned - you 
> can't have a conversation with someone who isn't living in the same time dimension as you! In this thought experiment, to have a 
> conversation with me you would have to take one of the snapshots, copy it into a computer and start running it - in your time 
> axis. At that point you could quickly satisfy yourself that I was conscious - as expected.

> Does this help?

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list