Dear Bruno,
may I ask you to spell out your "B" and "D"? in your:
Let D = the proposition "God exists", "~" = NOT, B = believes.<
Where I think I cannot substitute your "~" for the "=NOT"  - or, if the entire line is 
meaning ONE idea, that "B" believes both the affirmative and the negatory.
Also: the difference between ~BD and ~B~D?

I would like to read on and understanding the starting propositions is crucial.
Sorry for my ignorance

I have the feeling that we both are on the same ground in our nonexistent beliefs and I 
expressed that also as being an agnostic, rather than the atheist (who needs a 
god-concept (incl. matter, for that matter) to DENY.) It is contrary to the German common 
usage of "gottlos" (same in my language) - but we try to step further than the 
conventional common historically used  vocabulary.
I do neither believe in the inexistence of God, nor in the >inexistence of Matter. 
I wait for more data.<
I took a more straightforward stance when a 'believer' challenged me to prove: there is NO god, I said I can disprove only if he proved the existence. Another (redface) ignorance of mine: it seems that your Wi and Fi references appeared in the parts more technical than I could consciously absorb, so I am at a loss. Computable must mean more than "Turing emulable" (R.Rosen) since the unrestricted totality is not available in toto for this later concept. Br asked:
You seem quite sure about that. How do you know? >Why couldn'it be that *you* find this 
"limited" due to your >own prejudice about numbers and machines? <
I was impregnated by some commi dialectic materialism over 2 decades and found a perspective of things developing gradually reasonable. AI emulates (some) human mental characteristics and I don't believe that this process has been completed. I see additional possibilities to extend into, especially in mental events we have not yet discovered. This 'feeling' is not due to my - as you say - prejudice about numbers and machines. I could not spell out such 'prejudice', not in the least because of my above argument in agnosticism: I did not get so far a firm support for the 'numbers' being the foundation of everything, so I cannot argue against such unproven idea (neither to believe). * Lobian machine: I follow a deterministic view: everything that happens is entailed by originating processes (whether we know them or not), so a 'mechanism' can be thought of (machine). I accept your (Bruno) teaching about Loeb's original description (I tried to read 'him', but it was too 'technical) so I feel free to call myself a 'loebian machine' truthfully. Especially since it is the expression used by Bruno et al. on this list. Consistent I am in MY common sense (which may be fallse). * About the "underlying physical reality"? it became physical only by our interpretation into matter-based model-view. Reality may be underlying - I know nothing about that - but we DO base our figments on something. Then we build up a world 'physical' (I really do not want to tease you: "or mathematical - numbers based).

----- Original Message ----- From: Bruno Marchal To: Sent: Wednesday, January 17, 2007 10:00 AM
 Subject: Rép : The Meaning of Life

 To avoid to much posts in your mail box, I send all my comments in this post,

 Hi Brent,

 1a) Brent meeker wrote (quoting Jim Heldberg) :

   Atheism is not a religion, just as a vacant lot is not a type of
   building, and health is not a form of sickness. Atheism is not a
   --- Jim Heldberg

 It seems to me that Jim Heldberg confuse the scientist (indeed) attitude of 
agnosticism and atheism.
 Let D = the proposition "God exists", "~" = NOT, B = believes.

 An agnostic is someone for which the proposition "~BD" is true. (And "~B~D" 
could be true as well)
 An atheist is someone for which "B~D" is true.

 The atheist is a believer. As John M often says, an atheist already has some 
notion of God such as to be able to believe it does not exist.
 Now most atheist are already "believer" in believing "religiously" in Primary 
Matter (a metaphysical entity).

 I'am agnostic in both sense. I do not believe in God, nor do I believe in 
Matter. Those terms are not enough well defined.
 I do neither believe in the inexistence of God, nor in the inexistence of 
Matter. I wait for more data.

 But assuming comp, I must confess that I have *reason* to put some more credo on 
Plotinus, and other platonist approaches, on "mind/god/matter" and fundamental 
principle, than on the aristotelian primitive matter theory. Actually, I infer the same 
belief from the empirical quantum data.

 1b) Brent wrote to John M:

   Values existed longer before humans.

 So you are a bit Platonist too .... :)

 1c) Brent wrote (to Stathis):

How is this infinite regress avoided in our world? By consciousness not representing the rest of the world.

 That is an interesting idea. You could elaborate a bit perhaps? I do agree with your 
most of your recent replies to Stathis about the question "does a rock think?". 
But perhaps not entirely for the same reason as you. We will see.

   The world is what it is and representation is not essential. I suppose this is 
somewhat like Peter's "primitive substance" whose only function is to 
distinguish things that exist from their representation.

 yes, but then the question is "what are you assuming to exist?"

 1d) Brent wrote to Mark Peaty (in Jason's thread about "irreversibility):

I think there is a confusion creeping in here. I don't think "logically reversible" is misleading. It is only physical processes that can be termed reversible or irreversible. Logic lives in a timeless Platonia. Computers operated irreversibly, they dissipate heat when they they erase data. Feynman pointed out that this was not necessary and a computer that did not erase data could operate without dissipating heat (no increase in entropy).

 The logician Hao Wang, is, as far as I know, the first to prove that a universal machine 
can operate without ever erasing information, and this is enough for developping notion 
of logical reversibility (quite useful in quantum computing). I say more in term of 
"combinators" in my Elsevier paper. The one which is not yet on my web page. 
People interested can ask me a preprint.
 Grosso modo you lose universality if both "eliminating info" is prohibited and 
"duplicating info".

 2a) John wrote to Jamie:

   Sponging the 'gedanken..' - the falling treebranch reflects in your version 
the omniscient arrogant reductionist position. I go with Popper: no evidence, 
because we cannot encompass 'totality'  (my conclusion).

 Cute. And admitting to represent "totality" by the set of codes of total 
(everywhere defined) computable functions, this can be made very precise in term of the 
Wi and the Fi, as I try to explain from time to time in the list.

   I would'nt go to the primitive mechanistic AI-levels to learn about 
mentality unlimited. Bits (and pieces) for unrestricted relations.
   AI simulates (mechanically?) certain aspects of human mentality - up to a 
limited fashion.

You seem quite sure about that. How do you know? Why couldn'it be that *you* find this "limited" due to your own prejudice about numbers and machines?

 2b) John wrote to Brent:

   So noted. (However: in my feeble English 'bias' means
   '~prejudice' and I have yet to learn about prejudicial
   instruments. Unless we accept the "conscious
   instrument e.g. a thinking yardstick). I, as a
   Loebian machine, may well be prejudicial).

 That is true!!! Are you serious about being a lobian machine? As a matter of 
fact, lobian machine can know and prove that they are lobian.
 To prove being a *consistent* lobian machine is quite another matter, though 
 It is not impossible. *Inconsistent* lobian machine *can* prove that they are 
consistent lobian machine, but then they can prove the existence of Santa 
Klaus, and also, to be sure, of 0 = 1.

 3a) Stathis wrote (to me):

   Regarding consciousness being generated by physical activity, would it help 
   I said that if a conventional computer is conscious, then, to be consistent, 
rock would also have to be conscious?

 I think you could be right ... It is difficult because terms like "conventional" and 
"physical" are quite fuzzy.
 I do think that if a conventional (material in the mundane sense) is 
conscious, most probably anything *is* conscious, and that is related to the 
fact that I think (assuming the comp hypothesis) that a conventional computer 
is *not* conscious. Consciousness is a first person attribute, and the UDA 
shows that it has to be associated with an (infinity) of (mathematical) 
computations. This 1-person has no shape, and can even be considered as not 
being a machine. I guess we will have to discuss this with more details.

   It's difficult to find the right words here. I think we can all agree on the 
of a physical reality as a starting point.


   The common sense view is that there is an
   underlying primitive physical reality generating this appearance, without 
which the
   appearance would vanish and relative to which dream and illusion can be 
If this is so, it is not a scientifically testable theory.

 I think it is testable indirectly. Recall that although I disagree with Penrose godelian argument, 
I do arrive at similar conclusion: you cannot have both "computationalism" and 

   We can't just switch off the
   physical reality to see whether it changes the appearance, and the further 
we delve
   into matter all we see is more appearance (and stranger and stranger 
appearance at
   that). Moreover, dream and illusion are defined relative to the appearance 
of regular
   physical reality, not relative to the postulated primitive physical reality.

 I would say "relative to a theory explaining the appearances", not just to the 

 3b) Stathis wrote to John M:

   Not really: the people who claim they saw Elvis after his alleged death are 
   numerous and more credible than the second-hand (at best) Biblical accounts 
   Jesus being sighted after his crucifixion. When I have put this to 
Christians they
   answer that Elvis did not claim to be God etc. Well, if he had done, would 
   make a difference?

I'm afraid it would have! Reciprocally, would Jesus have been only a musician, things would have been different, I guess :)

 3c) Stathis wrote to John in another post:

   The constraint on meaning and
   syntax would then go, and the vibration of atoms in a rock could be 
   any computation, including any conscious computation, if such there are.

   John Searle, among others, believes this is absurd, and that therefore it 
   computationalism. Another approach is that it shows that it is absurd that 
   supervenes on physical activity of any sort, but we can keep 
computationalism and
   drop the physical supervenience criterion, as Bruno has.


 3d) Stathis wrote to Brent:

   Any serial computation can be made up of multiple parallel computations, and vice versa. You 
can't say, aha, we've used that string for "dog" so we can't now use it for 
"cat", because who is going to patrol the universe to enforce this rule? This is what you 
are left with if you eliminate the constraint that the computation has to interact with an external 
   I am aware that this is a very strange idea, perhaps even an absurd idea, 
but I don't see any way out of it without ruining computationalism, as by 
saying that it's all bunk, or only computations that can interact with the 
environment at the level of their implementation can be conscious. Because if 
you insist on the latter, it implies something like ESP: the computer will know 
the difference between a false sensory stimulus and one emanating from the 
environment... possible, but not very Turing-emulable.

 I agree with Brent's remark on that: "I find that doubtful - do you have a reference? 
Isn't it the definition of "incompressible" computation that there is no way faster 
than executing each step in sequence (Brent Meeker).

 3e) Stathis' answer to Brent:

I'm not referring to speed, just to doing it. For example, a serial stream of consciousness can be emulated by multiple shorter parallel streams; there is no way of knowing whether you're being run in serial, parallel, how fast the real world clock is running, etc.

 I agree there is no way to know whether you are being run in serial, parallel, 
etc. But mathematically multiple shorter parallel streams have to be able to be 
glued, at least mathematically, for constituting a proper computation. If not 
literally anything can be described as a computation. That is why I explicitly 
use a mathematical definition of computation, and then(and only then) try to 
figure out what is a rock, for example.

 4) Mark Peaty wrote (to Brent):

   As I say, the essence of evil is the act of treating other persons as things.

 I so agree with you. And then, with Church thesis (less than comp, thus) you 
can understand the reason why even some (relative) machine and some (relative) 
numbers should not be confused with any of their third person description.

On another tack: it seems to me the extent and scope of suffering in the world is one of the most powerful arguments in favour of the total irrelevance of the concept of G/god/s. However it is not for me to go around telling those who believe in some G/god/s that they are deluded.

 Do you agree that those who believe in a primitive physical universe could be deluded in the same manner 
than those who believe in some notion of God. Perhaps even in a worse manner, because many people believe 
that the existence of a primitive material universe is a "scientific fact". Of course not. At least 
in many theological text, the word "God" is used in a more axiomatic way than "Matter" is 
by some scientist (at lunch or during the week-end). Most religious people will never say that the existence 
of God is a scientific fact, and in that sense are less deluded than many materialist.

 Wei Dai wrote :

   As for the simulation argument itself, I've suggested previously that instead of thinking 
"which kind of universe am I likely to be in", it makes more sense to consider myself as 
being "simultaneously" in all universes that contain me, and to decide my actions based 
on their effects on the overall multiverse.

 I agree. It is not even just an option with the comp hyp. With comp we just cannot 
belongs to a universe or to a computational history, we always "belong" to an 
infinity of them.


 PS to Mark Peaty: I will address you last post soon (Friday, I guess).


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