On Nov 30, 2008, at 9:53 AM, Günther Greindl wrote:
> Kory wrote:
>> I have an intuition that causality
>> (or its logical equivalent in Platonia) is somehow important for
>> consciousness. You argue that the the slide from Fully-Functional
>> Alice to Lucky Alice (or Fully-Functional Firefox to Lucky Firefox)
>> indicates that there's something wrong with this idea. However, you
>> have an intuition that order is somehow important for consciousness.
> But we must realise that causality is a concept that is deeply related
> (cognitively, in humans) to time and physical change.
> But both time and space _emerge_ only from the inside view (1st person
> or 1st person shareable) in the sum over all computations.
> In Platonia (viewed, for the time being, ludicrously and impossibly,
> from the outside) - there is no notion of time, space, sequentiality,
> before and after.
> The very notion of causation must be one that arises only in the  
> inside
> view, as a "succession" of consistent patterns.

For what it's worth, I do think that that there's a *kind* of  
causality in Platonia. Let me once again trot out the picture of a  
platonic block universe in which the initial state is the binary  
digits of PI, and the succeeding states are determined by the rules of  
Conway's Life. This block universe exists unchangingly and eternally  
in Platonia, but the states of the bits within it are related in a  
kind of causal fashion. The state of each bit in the block is  
determined (in a sense, "caused") by the pyramid of cells beneath it,  
stretching back to the initial state, which is determined by the  
algorithm for computing the binary digits of PI. In this sense,  
causality is an essential aspect of the platonic notion of computation.

One might argue that this is really a misuse of the concept of  
"causality" - that I should just talk about the necessary logical  
relationships that are there "by definition" in my platonic object.  
But my point is that these logical relationships fill the exact role  
that "causality" is supposed to fill for the physicalist. When  
patterns of bits within this platonic block universe "discuss" their  
own physics, they might talk about how current configurations of  
physical matter were "caused" by previous states. The logical  
connections in Platonia are a good candidate for what they can  
actually be talking about.

This platonic form of "causality" may not always be directly related  
to the concept of time that patterns of bits in a block universe might  
have. For instance, there's a cellular automaton rule (which deserves  
to be much more widely known than it is) called Critters which is as  
simple as Conway's Life, uses only bits (on or off), is known to be  
computation universal, and is also fully reversible. This gets weird,  
because the computational structures within a Critters block universe  
will still seem to favor one direction in time - they'll store  
memories about the "past" and try to anticipate the "future", etc. But  
in fact, our own physics seems to be reversible, so we have these same  
issues to work out regarding our own consciousness. The point is that,  
within a Critters block universe in Platonia, the states will still be  
logically related to each other in a way that precisely matches what  
physicists in the block universe (the "critters within Critters"!)  
would think of as causality.

-- Kory

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