2008/11/15 Kory Heath <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>:

> Actually, I think my formulation already goes further than the theory
> outlined in PC. Although it's a subtle point, I get the feeling that
> reality in PC is still "materialist", in the sense that at the root
> there still is material stuff which is different than bare
> mathematical fact. I think the idea is more like the idea that a
> physical stone implements all possible computations. As long as
> there's some physical stuff to work with (implies the novel), that
> stuff is enough to represent all possible computations. And the
> computations representing conscious beings are scattered like dust
> throughout those computations. Another way to look at it would be to
> say that, if the physical universe is infinite, then at the moment of
> my death, there is some pattern of molecules somewhere which is enough
> like me to count as a continuer. It doesn't matter that it's causally
> disconnected from me. Those states may be scattered like dust through
> space and time, but as long as they're there, I'll continue to exist.
> One can believe all of this, yet still retain the standard (in my
> opinion ill-formed) materialist conception of physical existence. One
> can still believe that some kind of physical universe has to exist in
> order for the "dust" to exist. It's different (and more extreme) to
> suggest that mathematical facts-of-the-matter by themselves play the
> role that "physical existence" is supposed to play.

But if any computation can be mapped onto any physical state, then
every computation can be mapped onto one physical state; and why not
the null state? The computation is "realised" in the mapping, a
Platonic object, with the nature or even existence of the physical
state being irrelevant.

> Maybe Egan did mean to imply that more extreme version, but it's hard
> to know, because he wrote a novel rather than a concise essay. For
> instance, I don't understand why the main character of the novel felt
> the need to "jump start" the universe he wanted by performing the
> initial computations. If the dust theory is true, nothing needs to be
> jump-started.

Yes, I guess he just added that part because it fit better with the story.

Stathis Papaioannou

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