[ExI] The Soul

Jason Resch jasonresch at gmail.com
Mon Apr 27 21:42:54 UTC 2020

On Mon, Apr 27, 2020 at 4:16 PM Ben Zaiboc via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> 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.

Can you explain why you think so? Was Einstein wrong about his own theory?

> And this idea of 'block time' is irrelevant to people's actual lives,
> which begin and end.

But you never die from your first-person perspective.

Living eternally in every moment of your life is equivalent in effect to
living your life over and over again forever. You might not care, but
perhaps someone might find some comfort in knowing someone isn't gone, just
present in a different time. (As Einstein through Besso's wife might when
he explained that to her).

> 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.

This is a consequence of quantum mechanics. You need not do anything if
quantum mechanics is true.

Special relativity and quantum mechanics are the two cornerstones of modern
physics. Both of them imply different forms of living forever.

> 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.

It's relevant. You don't experience the passage of time while you're dead.
So even if Tipler's or some other Omega point happens a trillion years from
now, from your point of view you experience it immediately after you die.
You feel as though you are instantaneously resurrected.

> This '4-dimensional block time' doesn't prevent anyone from dying, does
> it?

To be completely precise and avoid misinterpretation, I would phrase it as
"Special relativity doesn't imply one's one's temporal borders will extend
indefinitely into the future."  (But quantum mechanics does imply this,
from a first-person perspective).

> It doesn't prevent people from growing old and decrepit.

Neither special relativity nor quantum mechanics prevent you from becoming
older and more decrepit, but reincarnation through low-entropy brain state
intersection (as implied by mechanist/materialist theories of mind) give
you immortality without continued ageing, only loss of memories.

If you want immortality, and continued accumulation of memories, then you
need to posit a large universe and the simulation hypothesis. Then you have
the possibility of awaking as an immortal being who collects lifetimes
worth of memories as one might collect stamps.

> In fact, it doesn't make one iota of difference to their lives. It applies
> just as much to Thog the Caveman,

I thought it was Og.

> 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.

You asked for an explanation of how special relativity implies eternal
life. I can't make you like it.

> To paraphrase Woody Allen, I want immortality through not dying, not
> through being embedded in 4-dimensional block time.
Then you can study the consequences of the other theories I mentioned,
which contain more favorable forms of continued experience.

> "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?

Any definition is going to be simple if its to be inclusive about minimally
conscious entities.

If you dislike "awareness" you can substitute "awareness" with "having
knowledge of" so the definition of consciousness becomes "having knowledge
of information".

What's your definition? Can you do better?

> 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.

So you have no definition and think there cannot be one?

> 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.?
I can agree that debating "what is conscious" is the same class of question
as "what is alive", there's no simple definition or boundary because there
is a broad range of complexity of different things you might call alive.

Nonetheless I still think consciousness is a useful word. It seems we agree
it is related to information processing.

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/attachments/20200427/858ad126/attachment.htm>

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list