[ExI] The Soul

Ben Zaiboc ben at zaiboc.net
Mon Apr 27 21:15:15 UTC 2020

Jason Resch said:

"Special relativity implies spacetime, which means there is no such 
thing as an objective present point in time. This implies "block time" 
the idea that in reality the universe is a static unchanging 4 
dimensional block rather than a 3d one evolving through time. Thus, all 
times are equally real, every thing in every time exists eternally and 
has always existed."

I think you are over-interpreting the significance of such theories. And 
this idea of 'block time' is irrelevant to people's actual lives, which 
begin and end. I'm not interested in whether I'm eternal in some sense 
because of an interpretation of a theory, I'm interested in extending my 
lifespan beyond its natural limit. For that, things must be done. For 
your 'immortality', what does anyone need to do? Nothing. Frank Tipler's 
Omega Point is just something that may happen in the far distant future. 
Without any input from me, or anyone else. Not interesting or relevant. 
In fact, it might as well be a religious concept. This '4-dimensional 
block time' doesn't prevent anyone from dying, does it? It doesn't 
prevent people from growing old and decrepit. In fact, it doesn't make 
one iota of difference to their lives. It applies just as much to Thog 
the Caveman, Rameses the second, Mrs Miggins and Napoleon as it does to 
me. So where is the progress, the improvement, and the expansion of 
human capabilities? There is none. It is simply irrelevant, an 
intellectual curiosity of no practical value.

To paraphrase Woody Allen, I want immortality through not dying, not 
through being embedded in 4-dimensional block time.

"I defined consciousness as awareness of information, and said that it 
can arise in any information processing system which can enter different 
states based upon that information"

Ah, yes, so you did.
Now I know why I didn't remember it.

Seeing as nothing can be aware of anything but information, you're 
saying "consciousness is awareness". Great. Can you come up with 
something a little less trite?

And can you prove that it can arise in any information processing 
system? Well, any system that processes information can be said to be 
'aware' of the information, otherwise it wouldn't be able to process it. 
Entering different states is implicit in the word 'processing'. An 
information processing system that doesn't change its state in response 
to incoming information isn't processing the information.

It seems we have a problem.

Perhaps I should modify my question: How do you define 'consciousness' 
without using circular definitions?

Yes, sorry, it's a trick question. I don't think it's possible. 
'Consciousness' is just one of those wooly words that doesn't really 
mean anything definite at all.

I propose we drop the word altogether, and just talk about Information 
Processing instead. This has the advantage of avoiding any potential 
supernatural implications or associations. Then we can get on with more 
interesting and useful questions, such as what kind of structure does an 
information processing system need to have in order to solve complex 
problems, model other such systems, model itself, remember the past, 
make predictions about the future based upon information gathered in the 
past, etc.?

Ben Zaiboc

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