[ExI] Qualia are not in the matrix (was Re: The Matrix: Resurrections trailer)

Jason Resch jasonresch at gmail.com
Sun Sep 12 17:27:28 UTC 2021

On Sat, Sep 11, 2021 at 7:57 PM Brent Allsop via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> We do know that our redness and greenness, out of which our
> consciousness is composed, is not in the matrix.  Qualia are intrinsic
> qualities of something in all those brains, in all those vats, in the
> basement level physical reality.  They are not in the matrix.
> We'll I guess that IS a falsifiable claim, right Stathis?  The
> functionalists predicting that redness and greenness can arise (magically?)
> from anything "functioning" correctly.
> But until that is demonstrated (redness magically arising from some
> function, and we know which function!  SQRT?), I'm staying with assuming my
> qualia are intrinsic qualities of a basement level physical reality.

There are some things we can reasonably assume are universal or
all-encompassing. For example, if we consider mathematics as the space of
all possible structures, then the physical universe as we know it would be
one possible structure within the set of all possible structures, and thus
would be contained within mathematics.

If our qualia are somehow derivative of a process or property taking place
within our physical universe, then it would follow that the qualia of say
"blueness" has a physical definition in terms of some physical process or
property. And since the physical universe is itself a subset of possible
mathematical structures, it further should follow that "blueness" has a
mathematical definition as well.

Turing machines are universal and all-encompassing in a limited and special
way: they are universal in being able to define or replicate any
finitely-describable process, including any finitely-describable manner of
processing information. If qualia are the result of a finite process,
rather than an unreplicable innate property, then it would follow that
there is a Turing-machine definition of a process that instantiates the
qualia of blueness.

If there are no properties except those that exist as processes and
relations to other processes, then it would suggest the irrelevance of any
physical property. In effect, any physical property could then be
replicated (for all intents and purposes) by replicating all the relations
homomorphically. In other words, a perfect computational simulation of a
physical system, would possess all the properties of the simulated physical

So if there are no innate, irreplicable physical properties, it suggests
that processes are all that are needed, which is one of the reasons people
subscribe to functionalism. Functionalism is just the view that everything
has a perfect mathematical description in terms of processes and relations
between processes, and that properties are just high-level labels we put on
relations between processes. So if reality is "processes" all the way down,
there exists a process-level description and definition for any qualia.

This is just how I see things. I hope I have done some justice in
explaining the viewpoint of functionalists which might bridge the gap to
other physicalists. I think functionalists just tend to use additional
layers of abstraction when considering the ultimate nature of reality, like
when Wheeler considered "it from bit" or anytime a physicist probes about
the ultimate nature of "things."

Maybe the relationships are all that exist. Maybe the world is *made* of
> math. At first that sounded nuts, but when I thought about it I had to
> wonder, what exactly is the other option? That the world is made of
> “things”? What the hell is a “thing”? It was one of those concepts that
> fold under the slightest interrogation. Look closely at any object and you
> find it’s an amalgamation of particles. But look closely at the particles
> and you find that they are irreducible representations of the Poincaré
> symmetry group―whatever that meant. The point is, particles, at bottom,
> look a lot like math.Amanda Gefter
> <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amanda_Gefter> in “*Trespassing on
> Einstein’s Lawn
> <https://www.google.com/books/edition/Trespassing_on_Einstein_s_Lawn/ZoWODQAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&pg=PP1&printsec=frontcover&bsq=At%20first%20that%20sounded%20nuts>*”
> (2014)

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