[extropy-chat] Space: The Final Constraint

Lee Corbin lcorbin at tsoft.com
Tue Jun 13 23:47:15 UTC 2006

Damien S. writes

> As a side note, the 1e33 minds in a m3 was a number I assume made up on
> the spot for rhetorical effect, since there are likely to be no more
> than 1e30 *atoms* in a m3 of solid matter.

I mentioned that it was in "computronium", but yes, I shouldn't have been
specific. In truth, I was remembering how many present day folks you can
emulate using the Merkle/Kurzweil numbers, if you use the whole Earth.
I often quote this at people who want to keep the Earth around, boulders,
molten lava, mantle, iron core and all.

> E.g. suppose you want to emulate the experience of exchanging e-mail
> with another brain in a vat.  Can you get away with just emulating the
> sensory neurons which would be reading the e-mail?  No, because it takes
> a whole other humanlevel mind to write the e-mails and carry on a
> conversation.

> One person might be satisfied with crudely heuristic "wallpaper" full of
> fractally drawn trees and chirping boids.

Now that is 99% of the people 99% of the time.

> An animal behaviorist will want to see real behavior.  Someone else might
> want to get out a microscope, or sequence DNA, or explore ecological...

Yes, but how often?  Do we need to run an entire Amazon jungle just in
case someone wants to look at *one* particular piece of it?  Why not 
let some more people live instead?  What if someone has just bought the
piece of matter this simulation is running on and wants to make it into
a beautiful arctic wilderness?   Or: what if you and I didn't get to
live because some plutocrat decided to waste his vast resources on a

> consequences over a
> large area (so "just emulate what they're looking at right now" won't
> cut it.)  And that's just at one moment, never mind wanting to see how
> the system evolves over time.

I have little problem if you want to buy a huge piece of matter somewhere,
and use it for such paltry ends. That's your business. I'm saying that if
you do, it will be at the expense of (at least) millions of peoples' lives.
(Runtime of lives, that is.)

Your choice, of course.


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