[ExI] simulation as an improvement over reality

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Sun Dec 26 11:46:18 UTC 2010

On Sun, Dec 26, 2010 at 12:48:34AM -0800, The Avantguardian wrote:

> But I am still genetically isomorphic to that embryo as is the acorn to the oak 
> tree. While the morphological phenotypes may have changed, the genetic 
> information has been fairly well conserved and if you look at the right genomic 
> subsets, both the acorn and the embryo can be found described within.

Abortion is not murder, though.
> No such conservation of either morphology or information is likely for an 
> upload.

Initially, you're modeled 1:1 from first principles. There's a
continuum from theah to heah. So it's pretty much the same thing.

And if you don't like it, you don't have to do it.
> > There is no fundamental difference between postbiology and you. All
> > cognition is embodied. 
> What? Just the differences in the matter substrate *and* the volatility of the 

Sure, they're made out of meat.

> information embodied thereby. Nothing fundamental to see here! Move along, 

The information pattern between your ears is also pretty volatile.

> citizen.
> > Only, postbiology is a lot fitter than you.
> What is your evidence for this assumption? Or is it an article of faith? Do you 

Functionality concentration per amount of volume. Repertoire of accessible
structures. Operation temperature range. Facultative volatile use. Fully
static design. Energy efficiency. Separation of fabrication and operation. 
Ability to metabolize the entire PSE.

I could go on for pages, but you're probably seeing where I'm getting.
Yes, they're way meaner and leaner than us.

> mean more fit than me in the vacuum of space or in the jungle? In a virtual 

Everywhere. And jungle is crunchy, and good with ketchup.

> reality or within ten feet of an active Tesla coil? Fitness is relative 

You're in a virtual reality, rendered by a meat computer. 

> to your environment, to the guy next to you, to any predators, and to the 
> "microbes" beneath your contempt. And if postbiology is manufactured using 

Microbes are pretty cool.

> modern practices, then it would 

And if pigs would fly, we would have to carry umbrellas.
> probably fail once its warranty period expired.

The nice thing is that you can halt state, copy over, and resume.
No such options for us.
> BTW I dislike the term postbiology. Biology is the study of life and would be 
> just as applicable to machine-phase life as to wet-carbon life.  

I use the term exactly because machine-phase is like biology, only more
so, and is successor to current biology (both can't co-exist, due to
fitness delta and incompatbility (they can eat you, you can't eat them)).
> > Far more adept at manipulating
> > the physical layer.
> Well we were originally talking about uploads and now we are talking about 

We're talking about exactly the same thing.

> postbiology. Uploads would have to compete with other processor threads for 
> access to IO 

Processor threads? IO? I see where your confusion lies. There's no such
thing. That's the way people are building things. It's brittle, inefficient,
slow, and dangerous. About to go the way of the dodo.
> ports on their box. As long as we meat people don't make some stupid mistakes, 
> what is on the other end of that IO port is under our control. Independently 

It is precisely because we don't have stuff we built under our own
control it has to go extinct. And it will most likely turn around,
and smack us right in the face with a broom handle.

> evolved hive-minded nanospiders on the other hand could pose a serious 
> problem.  

Pretty much everything poses a serious problem. It's interesting that so
many suffer a failure of imagination. The world is already stranger than
we can imagine, and it's shortly going to get A Lot Worse. (Or, better,
> > So we are the endangered species, for a change.
> > It would be an act of cosmic irony, if the perpetrators of the Holocene
> > extinction event themselves succumbed to habitat destruction and industrial 
> > pollution at the hands of their offspring. Mere indifference would be enough.
> There is no irony in this and H. sapiens would not be the first species to have 

Oh, but many will find it ironic indeed. "How could this happen to us? Kings
of the world, etc."

> done this. The cyanobacteria did exactly this when they evolved chlorophyll and 

Archaea are pretty low on irony department, I hear. Pretty square customers.

> threated all life by unleashing oxygen on the world.  

But they were not aware of what they're doing. We are, yet we're still doing it.
> > > do so and interfaces can be manipulated.
> > 
> > What is your interface to reality? Why is it not being manipulated?
> > So what should be different?
> My senses and effector organs are my interface to reality. They are, every time 

You're operating on a model of reality rendered in the dark, wet space
between your ears. They do it, too, only their's is a dry, rigid
crystal lattice. You myelin, they bucky. Etc.

> I flip on a TV.The difference is 
> that my interface is more fundamental than my processor because it evolved 
> first. This would likely be the converse of the situation faced by uploads where 
> IO devices would be ancillary to core data processing and storage devices. Sure 
> virtual eyes could see virtual skies but the ccd camera for peeping at the 
> "real world" may not even be connected. 

That's a lot of heavy steampunk you're doing there. I'm glad you
didn't mention ferrite cores, mercury delay lines and perforated 
dead tree. I'm sure these are even more handicapped.
> > So don't do it, then.
>  I just don't see the enlightened self-interest of uploading. You don't get to 

Different strokes for different flocks.

> live forever. Instead a bit-pattern that very quickly diverges away from you 

It's less about perks like living forever, it's more about transcending the
limitations of being a bipedal primate. It tends to cramp your style a bit.

> gets indefinite run time. That's not any closer to immortality than having kids 
> or writing a book. Even if one didn't upload onself, a simple brute-force search 

Ah, you're a mystic. Didn't realize that before.

> of permutation space is liable to hit upon any specific bit-pattern of 

Each bit doubles the size. (Of the search space).

> your evolution in finite time. That means that given enough evolving bit 
> patterns any bit pattern that represents "you" at any instant of time would very 
> likely to be converged upon by another entity in the course of their own 

Only if you believe in infinities. I don't.

> evolution. So for example, some other upload could assume the same bit pattern 
> you might have had at some stage of your evolution.  You and someone else could 
> become identical copies of one another for some duration because of the birthday 
> paradox. If identity becomes too malleable somewhere along the line, 
> it becomes concomitantly meaningless.

Do the math. It doesn't check out.
> And if one contends that identity is inherently meaningless, then what precisely 
> are you "preserving" with an upload?   

"After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time 
together of Bishop Berkeley's ingenious sophistry to prove the 
non-existence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is 
merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine 
is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget 
the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with 
mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it, 
'I refute it thus.'"

Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson
> > The virtual environment does not differ from real environment in any
> > other way than it can be more easily changed. Just because it can
> > it doesn't mean it will, because you will need a consensus for continuing
> > interactions with others. Extreme solipsism is incompatible with 
> > sustainable existance.
> Virtual environments differ from reality another way too. I offer without proof 
> that any simulation ought to be a reduced dimensionality subspace of reality. 

You can render as many dimensions as you like, it's just not efficient
in a relativistic universe. Unless you mean something else, I can't quite

> With reduced dimensionality comes fewer degrees of freedom and loss of 

I would like to see your proof, after all.

> information. Not to mention quantum effects whereby an enforced ignorance of 
> certain aspects of reality is maintained. In other words  a physicist with 

What of quantum effects?

> decently equipped lab should be able to tell whether he is in a simulation or 
> in the reality wherein the set of physical laws that he learned were formulated 
> and apply. And yes solipsism sucks but I see uploading as a social form of 
> solipsism. 

The nice thing about uploader solipsists that they self-select
into nonvisibility, until a bunch of non-solipsists come upon the
inert congregation, and recycle their atoms for lunch.
> > How about Jesus? He seems to visit a lot of people often.
> Maybe Jesus is their gardener. What does religion have to do with this?

I was just offering a counter-nonsequitur. Don't mind the burning

Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a> http://leitl.org
ICBM: 48.07100, 11.36820 http://www.ativel.com http://postbiota.org
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