[extropy-chat] Fragmentation of computations

Jef Allbright jef at jefallbright.net
Wed Mar 28 15:34:32 UTC 2007

On 3/28/07, Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 3/28/07, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com > wrote:
> > > Similarly, if computations can be self-aware, then self-aware
> computations must be lurking all around us in noise, perhaps in
> > > elaborate virtual worlds, but never able to interact in any way with the
> substrate of their implementation. The only way to avoid
> > > this strange idea is to say that computations can't be self-aware.
> > <
> >
> > I'm surprised---aren't you basically a functionalist who supposes
> > that (shortly in the future) we must expect certain robots whose
> > minds consist only in the execution of computer programs   to be
> > fully conscious?
>  Yes, that's what I think is most likely to happen, but the metaphysical
> sequelae of this idea, even though they lack empirically testable
> consequences, are still pretty weird. For example, if any computation could
> be hiding in noise, then our world could be a simulation, perhaps an
> infinitely nested one, as a result of all possible computations being run.
> On the other hand, if the anti-computationalists such as Searle and Penrose
> are correct, there is a real physical world, rocks don't think even
> surreptitiously, and only the very special collections of matter inside
> skulls can give rise to consciousness.

A scenario from a place far, far away, where the Natural Numbers, the
counting numbers {1, 2, 3...} are the norm because -- it's only

Mr. S:
"Observe the weird behavior of quantities. You can usually add one or
remove one and quantity changes as expected, but when you get down to
the smallest of quantities and remove one, then suddenly it's like
there's no quantity at all. It's not that the quantity continues to
get smaller, but rather it just stops being a quantity. I know it's
not of any practical significance, but it sure is weird if you think
about it."

Mr. L:
"It may seem weird, but it's simply the way things are.  Look, you can
modify quantities by ones, twos, or any amount you choose, and
observe, as you apply this function to smaller and smaller quantities,
there is a regular and predictable increase in the probability that
the the quantity will be no quantity at all.  It may look weird, but
it's simple reality."

Mr. J from some strange land:
"You know, guys, where I come from, we've extended your concept of
"quantity" so we can reckon even lower than your "quantities."  We
even include a continuous range of "quantity" *between* each of your
numbers.  It's actually simpler, ontologically, than your thinking
because we don't consider the existence of quantity, no-quantity, or
gaps between quantities -- our concept is smoother and more extensible
-- but it's true it has relatively little to do with your everyday
experience of counting stuff."

- Jef

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