[extropy-chat] Re: Identity and becoming a Great Old One

Russell Wallace russell.wallace at gmail.com
Thu Jan 26 23:19:33 UTC 2006

On 1/26/06, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky <sentience at pobox.com> wrote:
> When I saw the subject line, I immediately thought of a bumper sticker
> reading "Great Old One or Bust".

*laughs* That's not a bad idea actually.

1:  A finite computer has only a finite number of possible states.  In
> the long run, then, you *must* either die (not do any processing past a
> finite number of operations), go into an infinite loop (also implying no
> further processing), or grow beyond any finite bound.  Those are your
> only three options, no matter the physics.  Being human forever isn't on
> the list.  That is not a moral judgment, it's an unarguable mathematical
> fact.  In the long run - the really long run - humanity isn't an option.

This is of course mathematically true; whether it's physically relevant is
still an open question. (In particular, we don't know whether the ultimate
laws of physics permit infinite computation; currently known physics
suggests a limit much less than 2^N operations for relevant values of N, but
this is not certain.)

[arguments snipped and mostly agreed with]

So thee wishes not to be a Great Old One, Russell Wallace?  I should
> like to know what is thy alternative.

I don't know; I'm not even sure about the yes/no, let alone the alternative.
It would depend in part on the answer to the above question about the limits
of computation, and I think in part on the answer to certain questions about
intelligence and consciousness that I haven't coherently formulated yet. Not
like we have to decide by next week.

(I have a sudden vision of Eliezer and the rest of the SIAI guys saying
"Well actually Russell, now that you mention that..." :))

- Russell
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