On Sep 9, 11:30 pm, "Jason Resch" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:
> On Tue, Sep 9, 2008 at 7:44 PM, Stathis Papaioannou <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>wrote:
> > 2008/9/10 Jason Resch <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>:
> > > Uv,
> > > One of the concerns people have with free will or the lack thereof is
> > that
> > > if physics is deterministic, one's future actions can predicted
> > beforehand,
> > > without them even having to exist.  However, an interesting consequence
> > of
> > > computationalism is this: One's future actions cannot be predicted
> > without a
> > > simulation that goes into enough detail to instantiate that person's
> > > consciousness.  As conscious creatures, our wills cannot be calculated
> > > without our consciousness being invoked by the calculations, just as the
> > > physics of this universe is doing now.
> > Hm, sounds good, but is that true?
> I think it is, if you ignoring unpredictability due to QM, measurement
> problems, need to simulate the environment etc.  We can set aside the debate
> on these other issues for the purposes of this thought experiment by saying
> there exists a simulated mind and environment together inside a computer and
> both the mind and environment evolve according to deterministic rules which
> can be computed in finite time.
> Within that situation, it is clear that there is no way to leap to future
> states of the system other than having the computer compute each
> intermediate step, skipping or abridging finer details of the system
> (environment or the mind) will lead to ever growing inaccuracies later down
> the road, as Rich mentioned a sensitive dependence on initial conditions.
> The only sure way to _know_ with certainty what the future holds is to
> process every instruction of the program.  Unless you believe in the
> possibility of philosophical zombies, a conscious being cannot be accurately
> simulated without simulating its mind in enough detail for that being to be
> conscious.


I agree with what you say about simulating minds. It seems very
reasonable to me that attempting to simulate a consciousness in detail
that is sufficient to reproduce behavior of that consciousness with
arbitrary precision would require processing of all intermediate time
steps. Also the point about identifying such a simulation with the
original consciousness. If it worked precisely the same, and received
exactly the same sensory input, the simulated consciousness and the
original would be one and the same. (And, since this assumes
determinism, free will must be an illusion, though choice most
definitely is not.)

But what I wonder about is the implication that the physics of the
universe are themselves unfolding in a computation of some sort. I
mean, I agree with this idea, with this model of thinking about
physics. But I am afraid the analogy breaks down, because I am unsure
how we can know anything about the direction in which this presumed
computation is occurring relative to our experience of time. We all
know that the fundamental laws of physics are time reversible. How can
someone living in the universe tell which direction the underlying
program is executing in relative to the evolution of the universe in
the up entropy direction. Perhaps, for all we know, the direction of
computation is counter to the direction in which we seem to experience
time. Perhaps it is in some orthogonal direction. Is there any way to
tell? Maybe not, until we can finally understand the most fundamental
physical laws governing our existence.

These are thoughts that bug me late at night. But understand that I am
not disagreeing with anything you said.
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