Jesse comments on Brian's remarkable and exceedingly valuable
explication (thanks, Brian!), even if some old-timers are
having deja-vu all over again, and are wondering if indeed
the universe isn't hopelessly cyclic after all.

> > triggering tape locations. To make it even simpler, the read/write head can
> > be replaced by a armature that moves from left to right triggering tape
> > locations. We have a very lazy machine! It's name is Olympia.
> 
> The main objection that comes to my mind is that in order to plan ahead of 
> time what number should be in each tape location before the armature begins 
> moving and flipping bits, you need to have already done the computation in 
> the regular way--so Olympia is not really computing anything, it's basically 
> just a playback device for showing us a *recording* of what happened during 
> the original computation.

It seems to me that you are exactly correct!  Admittedly I'm not
very articulate on this, partly because it's such a mystery, BUT:

It seems to me that there must be real information flow between
states of a real computation. When things are just laid out in a
way that circumvents this information flow, this causality, then
neither consciousness nor observer-moments obtain.

I admit that this is most peculiar. I admit that this may be
just another way of saying that time is mysterious. I admit
that it is logically possible that ditching the real universe
and regarding it as only a certain backwater of Platonia could
be correct. But so far:  I can't accept it, and partly for the
*moral* aspects that Jesse brings up later.

> I don't think Olympia contributes anything more to the measure
> of the observer-moment that was associated with the original 
> computation, any more than playing a movie showing the workings
> of each neuron in my brain would contribute to the measure of
> the observer-moment associated with what my brain was doing
> during that time.

Just so. But don't you find this difficult, as I do?  Don't
we need stronger arguments than these to counter those who
believe that Platonia explains everything?  Don't you also
feel that time and causality are linked here strongly, and
that somehow you and me and people like us seem to have a
"faith" that time and causality are real and independent of
such performances of Olympia, or "performances" by the
timeless Universal Dovetailer?

> But this would still be just a playback device, it wouldn't have the same 
> "causal structure" (although I don't know precisely how to define that term, 
> so this is probably the weakest part of my argument)

yes, we seem to have the same misgivings after all

> This actually brings up an interesting ethical problem. Suppose we put a 
> deterministic A.I. in a simulated environment with a simulated puppet body 
> whose motions are controlled by a string of numbers, and simulate what 
> happens with every possible input string to the puppet body of a certain 
> length.

An old idea, the Giant LookUp Table, or GLUT, did what to me
amounts to the same thing.

> The vast majority of copies of the A.I. will observer the puppet 
> body flailing around in a completely random way, of course. But once we have 
> a database of what happened in the simulation with every possible input 
> string, we could then create an interactive playback device where I put on a 
> VR suit and my movements are translated into input strings for the puppet 
> body, and then the device responds by playing back the next bit of the 
> appropriate recording in its database. The question is, would it be morally 
> wrong for me to make the puppet body torture the A.I. in the simulation?

In my opinion: NO.  It would not be morally wrong, because (as
you too believe) there are no observer moments in the playback.
When subsequent events are *causally* calculated from prior ones,
then, and only then, can moral issues arise, because then, and
only then, does an entity either benefit or suffer.

> I'm really just playing back a recording of a simulation that already
> happened,

that's right!
 
> so it seems like I'm not contributing anything to the measure of painful 
> observer-moments for the A.I., and of course the fraction of histories where 
> the A.I. experienced the puppet body acting in a coherent manner would have 
> been extremely small.

Yes.

> I guess one answer to why it's still wrong, [IT IS???]  besides 
> the fact that simulated torture might have a corrupting effect on my own 
> mind,

yeah, but that's not relevant. Let's hypothesize that you're
a very strong adult and can watch, say, violent or really scary
films or other portrayals, and not be too "disturbed"

> is that there's bound to be some fraction of worlds where I was 
> tricked or deluded into believing the VR system was just playing back 
> recordings from a preexisting database, when in reality I'm actually 
> interacting with a computation being done in realtime, so if I engage in 
> torture I am at least slightly contributing to the measure of 
> observer-moments who are experiencing horrible pain.

Very good point.  An important part of these hypotheses that we
play with is that we aregiven all the information.  Thus, we do
not need to have the concern that you have just voiced.
(It's interesting enough, as is.)

Yes, indeed, whenever called upon to do something momentous, it
is wise for one to always question one's sanity, and to double-check
that (for example) the world really will be saved if I shoot down
that airliner, or throw an innocent person out of an airlock as in
the Tom Godwin (Ray Bradbury) story, "The Cold Equations". But those
considerations aren't really relevant here, so far as I can see.

As most readers will agree, it is better for a million portrayals
of Auschwitz to occur, than for one genuine kitten to be thrown into
boiling water. Now an *emulation* of Auschwitz?  Well, that would be
different. Goodbye kitty, I'm sorry.

Lee

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