Why is it that we talk about caring and preference, pleasure and pain, and "proper behavior", when it comes to trying to figure out the basic nature of reality? (I've noticed that a lot of the thought experiments on this list feature pleasure or pain decision making.) For me this is a rhetorical question, because I believe that personhood is at the very core of reality. However, the point of my post is that this is one of those assumptions that we tend to take for granted without thinking about why we can assume it, and what its implications are. Or we just insert it into our thought experiments thinking that we aren't really assuming it as basic to everything but just making the argument more tangible. However, I would discourage this since there are those of us like me who take personhood to be at the core, and so this makes the thought experiment loaded to begin with. On the other hand, can we have a theory of everything without making that assumption? If so, what would that look like? What would the comparison between math and physical reality look like without it? (Perhaps something like the Riemann hypothesis TOE would fall into that category.) Can Wei Dai's approach below be done without it?

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Tom -----Original Message----- From: Wei Dai <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> To: everything-list@googlegroups.com Sent: Wed, 29 Mar 2006 11:58:31 -0800 Subject: proper behavior for a mathematical substructure Is there a difference between physical existence and mathematical existence? I suggest thinking about this problem from a different angle. Consider a mathematical substructure as a rational decision maker. It seems to me that making a decision ideally would consist of the following steps: 1. Identify the mathematical structure that corresponds to "me" (i.e., my current observer-moment) 2. Identify the mathematical structures that contain me as substructures. 3. Decide which of those I care about. 4. For each option I have, and each mathematical structure (containing me) that I care about, deduce the consequences on that structure of me taking that option. 5. Find the set of consequences that I prefer overall, and take the option that corresponds to it. Of course each of these steps may be dauntingly difficult, maybe even impossible for natural human beings, but does anyone disagree that this is the ideal of rationality that an AI, or perhaps a computationally augmented human being, should strive for? How would a difference between physical existence and mathematical existence, if there is one, affect this ideal of decision making? It's a rhetorical question because I don't think that it would. One possible answer may be that a rational decision maker in step 3 would decide to only care about those structures that have physical existence. But among the structures that contain him as substructures, how would he know which ones have physical existence, and which one only have mathematical existence? And even if he could somehow find out, I don't see any reason why he must not care about those structures that only have mathematical existence. --~--~---------~--~----~------------~-------~--~----~ You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Everything List" group. To post to this group, send email to everything-list@googlegroups.com To unsubscribe from this group, send email to [EMAIL PROTECTED] For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/everything-list -~----------~----~----~----~------~----~------~--~---