[ExI] Meat v. Machine (was simulation)

Samantha Atkins sjatkins at mac.com
Wed Dec 29 17:53:04 UTC 2010

On Dec 28, 2010, at 8:50 PM, The Avantguardian wrote:

> ----- Original Message ----
>> From: Eugen Leitl <eugen at leitl.org>
>> To: extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org
>> Sent: Sun, December 26, 2010 3:46:18 AM
>> Subject: Re: [ExI] simulation as an improvement over reality
>> On Sun, Dec 26, 2010 at 12:48:34AM -0800, The Avantguardian wrote:
>> And if you don't like it, you don't have to do it.
> Imagine you are on a desert island with Dr. Jeckyll and dozens of innocent 
> bystanders. Dr. Jeckyll offers to share an elixer with you that he strongly 
> believes will transform anyone who quaffs it into a hirsute, immensely strong, 
> and violently homicidal brute. He tells you that he will almost certainly drink 
> it but, "if you don't like it, you don't have to do it." What would you do?

This is supposed to clarify the situation at all?  Do you want to by force prohibit anyone who does want to upload if it makes you uncomfortable or you think they are insane to do it?   If so then this is not in the realm of debate anymore.  If not then why is there some value in arguing an undecidable set of hypotheticals at this time?

>> The information pattern between your ears is also pretty volatile.
> But the information between my ears is not directly coupled to the information 
> in my physical makeup.

What?  How can there be physically localized information that is not physically contained, i.e., part of your physical makeup?

> I can't think myself shorter, taller, or into a 
> worm. 


> Uploads would enjoy no such disconnect between implicit and explicit 
> information. Some seem to think it may be an advantage, but I think it 
> could pose serious risks for the uploaded individual. What happens if an upload 
> thinks himself into a philosophical zombie, computer virus, or other entity not 
> able to think?

Being on a different substrate in no way means that you have unlimited ability to redefine yourself in such ways.  The two are not one and the same.  I would expect that such redefinition would be a pretty specialized skill.  Also to be uploaded is to have backups.  Failsafes to reload when something goes wrong shouldn't be that hard to arrange.

> Or worse poses a danger to the rest of the world? The danger of a 
> stray thought being capable of ending ones existence might give pause to 
> some. And yes you could point out that suicide is possible in meat body too, 
> however, more than the mere passing thought of suicide is required to kill 
> oneself in real time. 

Of course.  Super powered chimps (no concomitant evolution of self-control, self-knowledge, ethics)  would be dangerous.  But then we can be pretty dangerous to self and others now also.  

>>>> 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.
> Sigh. Uploaders seem to constantly underestimate how incredible meat is from a 
> design standpoint. Some of the simplest meat out there, E. coli bacteria, puts 
> engineered technology to shame. The following is something akin to the 
> engineering specs for E. coli:

Sure.  Our best brain emulation today when scaled up will take its own large nuclear plant to power while the brain makes due with about 35 watts.  But that is largely a level circuitry current advantage.  It will not last forever.  That evolution arrived at one that works this well should give great hope that ones that work better can be found.

> http://redpoll.pharmacy.ualberta.ca/CCDB/cgi-bin/STAT_NEW.cgi
> Functionality per unit volume is difficult to measure because functionality is 
> not well defined, but here is a back of the envelope calculation based on the 
> assumption that distinct genes represent distinct functions: 4377 genes 
> per bacterium divided 
> by a cell volume of 10^-15 liters, gives functionality per unit volume of a 
> bacterium as 4.377 *trillion* functions per cubic millimeter. What technology 
> does that? Computers may push numbers around with similar functional density, 
> but a bacterium is pushing atoms around, cutting them apart and welding them 
> together. Sure people can imagine technology achieving this kind of functional 
> density someday, but I certainly wouldn't take it for granted.   
>>   Repertoire of accessible
>> structures.
> Frankly, I don't know how to assess this other than to say that the diversity of 
> biological structures is vast.
>>  Operation temperature range.
> Admittedly I'd score this one for the machines.

Not yet as power/cooling per equivalent information processing contest currently goes soundly to bio. 

>> 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)).
> There are bacteria that eat iron so why would you assume they couldn't compete 
> with machine-phase biology? You think the 
> conclusion is foregone, I think it would be quite the contest perhaps the 
> main event of 

Given MNT (pretty much essential to realization of these ambitions) we would control the bacterial realm. 

> a geologic epoch-- liquid-crystal life versus solid-state life. If machine-phase 
> life is so inevitable and so 
> superior, where are the Von Neumann probes?

You would not be able to recognize such a probe from a post-MNT civilization unless it wanted you to.   Your argument is of the form :

A is a possible  but not necessary consequence of realization of X,
A may or may not be detectable by beings like myself,
I have not detected A,
therefore X cannot have been realized,
and likely X is not better than not-X. 

Post MNT civilization is very much not inevitable.  A species must go beyond it evolutionary programmed proclivities and limitations in the midst of its environment complexifying beyond its native ability to cope  successfully to get there.  I doubt very many succeed.   There are certainly very clear ways our species could fail to do so.

>> 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.
> Solid-state organisms would have limitations too so you would simply be 
> trading one set of limitations for another.

Of course they have limitations.  Trading up to a less constraining set of limitations is a good thing though.

>>> 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.
> Yes I am a mystic (emergent properties, math, and the like) but you are 
> not completely a reductionist either.

Living forever (or indefinitely long time) with all your memories and continuously growing / developing / creating / experiencing is no different from having a kid or writing a book?   That makes no sense.    

Define "mystic".  The thought space is not divided into pure reductionist or mystic camps.

- s

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