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

Jef Allbright jef at jefallbright.net
Fri Jan 27 16:04:13 UTC 2006

On 1/27/06, Rafal Smigrodzki <rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 1/26/06, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky <sentience at pobox.com> wrote:
> > 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.
> >
> ### Is being human (in the sense of having a certain threshold number
> of similarities to myself) really unavoidably a finite process? The
> answer depends crucially on the type of properties that constitute
> being human as opposed to an Old One - I would contend that if you
> choose the right definition of yourself, you could become infinite
> without losing it.
> In fact, although I have insufficient data, I surmise that the current
> essence of Smigrodzkism is compatible with infinity.

I would suggest that the current conception of an "essence of Smigrodzkism"
is not about essence, but about a description of a process.  The specified
process has been ongoing for less than half a century and its current
working description is dominated by events weighted toward the present.

One could argue that there was a genetic essence of Smigrodzkism even before
birth that has been carried forward as a set of characteristics that
influence the propensities of the present Smigrodzki, but environment and
happenstance already outweigh the influence of this early essence.  Given a
further 1000 years of growth, the essential *description* of Smigrodzki of
2006 would be seen as a historical factoid, multidimensional and descriptive
of what it meant to be a certain creative, thinking human at that time, but
nearly insignificant in terms of what would define and influence a capable
intelligent agent of the fourth millenium.

The first component of this essence is that for a device to be
> legitimately classified as an instance of myself it has to contain a
> certain finite amount of information that describes my current
> memories, without limitation on the total amount of information
> contained within the device - and it appears that this doesn't force
> the device into finitude.

Storage of past versions should not be difficult, but such historical data
will be of diminishing significance.

The second component of the essence is a stipulation that in
> situations analogous to my current circumstances the device must make
> certain choices identically to my current instance, or its versions
> that have better information about outcomes of actions, including a
> version possessing full and certain information about outcomes of
> actions (choices of versions with more information trump the choices
> of versions with less information). Not all choices must be identical,
> only some choices in some situations, and on of the points of
> reference is, as I said, a hypothetical, omniscient version of myself,
> which is itself an infinite being. Thus, the second part of the
> essence not only does not limit my future self but even requires an
> infinite being for the definition.

I think what is missing here is that not only will Smigrodzki change over
time, but the environment too will change, and he will eventually find
himself to be not only a substantially different player, but that the game
itself will have changed.  Therefore, the basis of comparison between the
newer and older versions of Smigrodzki will become vanishingly small.  Your
point about such comparisons would remain technically correct, but

I think it is then reasonable to conclude that being Rafal is not
> necessarily a finite process.

We are not necessarily finite, because we can in principle continue to grow
indefinitely and continue to project our updated values in the future.
However, we are practically finite because in a competitive co-evolving
environment, any substantial description of our past selves rapidly becomes

- Jef
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/attachments/20060127/07216ee8/attachment.html>

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list