Brent: 'Remember that Bruno is a logician.'

MP: :-) Yes, this much is easy to infer. The full scope of what this might MEAN however, is little short of terrifying ... ;-)

MP: Infinity, infinite, infinitely big or small; these are challenging concepts at the best of times and made very interesting to the point of mind-boggling in the contexts of QM and relativity theory. In QM, there is apparently NOT an infinitely small level of existence that could be reached by any kind of measurement due to the shortest length and shortest durations denoted by the Planck length and Planck time. I personally wonder whether there is room to criticise this limitation. The underlying concept of Process Physics [let me call that PP from now on] directly challenges the idea.

MP: My point about measurement is to do with the fact that in seeking to get as exact a copy as possible, not just a working model, it is possible that the digital representations of salient features might need more decimal places than the recording and/or transmission systems can provide. This is a matter of big as opposed to infinite of course but as I pointed out before, the copy is not that of a static something or other it is a sufficient facsimile of a very complex dynamic system. This means that AT VERY LEAST two measurements of everything will be needed AND THEN a computation of all salient displacements WITH further measurements of system parts undergoing acceleration WITH WHICH calculations of the accelerations and displacements might finally be made. As far as I can see the amount of computation required to get all that in order will always be whatever is the maximum that the copier is currently capable of and might indeed require 'infinite' calculations to get all of it right.

Now I realise this is beginning to sound like an old fart imitating a wet blanket but these practical considerations, even if here only arising in a hypothetical and highly unlikely situation, are nicely indicative of just the sort of thing that distinguishes the real world from the beautiful but artificial worlds envisaged by 'comp', aggressive QM and other theories that confuse description with ontology. I could go on and on but it is very late here so let me finish by paraphrasing a line or two out of the 'Lord's prayer' - as might be addressed to the great IT or Universe:
'Lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from hubris,
for Thine is the location, the duration and the entropy,
for at least the next 15 billion years and maybe for eternity,


Mark Peaty  CDES


PS: "Qualia": part of 'what it is like to be the updating of the model' therefore essentially a first person aspect. Not something to worry about and let's NOT get wired up just yet! :-) The project of inducing qualia in others corresponding to those of one's own is my definition of fine art. It is by and large the fundamental criterion for judging success in any art.

Brent Meeker wrote:

Mark Peaty wrote:
SP: 'using the term "comp" as short for "computationalism" as something picked up from Bruno. On the face of it, computationalism seems quite sensible: the best theory of consciousness and the most promising candidate for producing artificial intelligence/consciousness'

That is what I thought 'comp' meant. My approach to this is to adhere, as much as possible, to plain and simple English. Not being a 'mathematician' I stick with my type of sceptical method. To me this does not seem deeply problematic although is does of course limit the scope of conversations I can participate in. As far as I can see, Bruno's grand scheme depends on 'assume', like the economists do. Unfortunately that which is assumed remains, I believe, unprovable. Furthermore there are deep, common sense, problems which undermine all these theories of universal emulation possibilities, never mind those potentially lethal :-) teleporting/fax holidays and cryogenic time shifts.

The biggest hurdle is the requirement for infinite computing ability.

Remember that Bruno is a logician. When he writes "infinite" he really means infinite - not "really, really big" as physicists do. Almost all numbers are bigger than 10^120, which is the biggest number that appears in physics (and it's wrong).

This is simply the recognition that all measurements are approximations so the teleporter/fax machine could only ever send an approximate copy of me to whatever destination duty or holiday dreamings might lead me. Still, it is probable that I, as subjective experiencer, would not notice most anomalies, particularly if trying to fill in the temporal gaps caused by Bruno's gratuitous delays in reading me back out of his archive :-)

This limitation hits all the 'Matrix' type scenarios as well: the emulation system would require essentially infinite computing capacity to reproduce any useful world that a real person inhabits. If on the other hand the Matrix is only concerned to make A world, its virtual reality inhabitants might be sustained [I am admitting this as a possibility] until they started engaging in real science. As I understand things the denizens of a Matrix type world would start to find real anomalies in their 'reality' unless the matrix machine could operate at a fineness of resolution unattainable by any experimental method the matrixians could devise. There would be much less, or even no problem at all if they were all believers in 'Intelligent Design' of course. [I can put that very rudely as: the problem is not 'If our mind were simple enough to understand then we would be too dumb to understand it' but rather 'If Intelligent Design were really true then we have been designed to be so dumb that it really doesn't matter!']

Re "Platonic objects" - I think this is illusory. The numbers that people write down and think about are words in the language/s of logico-mathematics. They do what they do because they are defined as such but they do not exist apart from the systems which generate and record them - by which I mean brains, blackboards and computers, etc... The regularities, and exciting facts people discover about them are just that, regularities and exciting facts about languages. I don't mean that in any derogatory sense. We live largely BY MEANS OF our languages and certainly our cultural lives as human beings would be impossible without language in the general and inclusive senses. But the universe is not made out of languages, it just exists - for the moment at least.

I incline to this view. I agree that the Platonic objects of mathematics are inventions or language - but so are our models based on material particles. An electron is almost (but maybe not quite) as abstract an invention as the number two.
[NB: it just occurs to me that certain G/goddists will say that the universe is made out of the mind of G/god/s which could perhaps be included as a or THE language of existence. To be 'perfect' however, this would need to be allowed to have infinite recursion, i.e. ''made out of(made out of(made out of(made out of ... -> inf ... ))). As far as I can see however this would amount to an assertion of many layered uncertainty and/or a Heraclitan in-falling in the direction of smallwards due to the necessity of each layer of divinity maintaining omniscience, omnipotence, and so for, over and under its 'turf'. As this has the minimalist effect of underpinning either standard model QM, etc. or something like the Process Physics advocated by Colin Hales and friends [which I find attractive], all is well with the world. :-]

But, seriously, all this stuff about 'supervening' and so forth is all based on the Cartesian assumption that mind-stuff has no physical extension. Well the Inquisition is no longer the authority or power base that it was and empirical science has moved on. I think the onus is falling ever more heavily on those who deny the identity of mind and brain to explain WHY they still do so. The 'distinction' between 1st and 3rd person view points is simply raw fact.

I think of it as a failure of communication. My brain must communicate with your brain through the medium of language, which is inadequate to convey qualia. But maybe if we could directly "wire" our brains together you could feel my qualia.

Brent Meeker

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