Hi Kim,

I recall the plan, the "definition" of machine, and then I comment  
your last post. I do this for preventing we get lost (or not lost) in  
a fractal conversation, which could be nice, but which is infinite,  
and we have to not abuse of Wei Dai hospitality. Right?

----------------The plan is:------------------------------
A) UDA  (Universal Dovetailer Argument)

1) I explain that if you are a machine, you are already immaterial.
2) Mechanism entails the existence of a subjective or first person
indeterminacy or uncertainty.
3) The Universal Machine, the Universal Dovetailer and the reversal
physics/bio-psycho-theo-whatever-logy.

B) AUDA (Arithmetical or Abstract Universal Dovetailer Argument).

1) Ontology: Robinson Arithmetic
2) Epistemology: Peano Arithmetic
3) Arithmetical Interpretation of Plotinus (including Plotinus theory
of Matter).
-----------------------------------------------------------------
The "definition" of machine is (from my preceding post).

The main idea is that a machine or a mechanism is something which is a
finite combination of a finite number of elementary parts (or locally
finite, it could grow) and which behavior in all circumstances can be
explained or reduced to the predictible local behavior of the
elementary parts).
------------------------------------------------------------------

Si I will begin by explaining to you why, IF you are a machine, THEN  
you are (already) immaterial. (The "1)" of the plan).
(Note in passing that a machine cannot be a fractal, somehow a machine  
is a finite entity when fractals are essentially infinite, but this  
will not contradict your post, see below).

Machines are finite combination of elementary parts. What is typical  
with machines is that we can fix them. Usually they get broken when  
some elementary parts or some sub-combinations are broken, and we can,  
in that situation, repair the machine by substituting the broken parts  
by some new equivalent one, which are supposed to be equivalent with  
respect to the role they have in the mechanism and context.

For example, we can accept the idea that a heart is mainly a blood  
pump, and we expect to survive if our heart is replaced by a  
mechanical artificial heart. This is something which is already done  
every years. Artificial heart have progressed a lot those last years.

The mechanist hypothesis is the hypothesis that we are machine so  
that, in principle, any part of us can be replaced. There is no  
special organ or part of us which should not be replaceable by an  
equivalent (artificial or natural) part. All right?

Now, there is a natural an objection which we can hear from times to  
times. If my heart is broken, I can survive with the heart of Mister  
X, who died accidentally in a car crash. But if my brain is broken or  
is threatening to break, can I really expect to survive with Mister  
X's brain? If we accept the lesson of neurophysiology it looks more  
like the fact that  Mister X survives, with its own memory and brain,  
and with my body.

OK. In order for me to survive with Mister X brain, we will have to  
clean its memories from his brain, and to reconfigure Mister X's brain  
with the data collected in my own brain. The situation is the same  
with a computer. We can exchange the keyboard, but we have to be  
cautious not exchanging too rapidly the hard disk. If we exchange the  
hard disk, we have to make a backup of my computer  before, then we  
have to be sure we got a new clean hard disk on which we can load the  
backup. All right?

So if you are a machine, it means you can survive with an artificial  
brain, or with an entire artificial body. We have just to be cautious  
of retaining the right configuration of the elementary parts, at some  
level of description. In the case of the brain, this is a tremendous  
work, but we will need only the idea that Mechanism makes such thing  
possible in principle, at some level. All right?

So, now, let me offer you, for your unbirthday feast, a new brain. Oh!  
You don't seem to happy. You already got  six artificial brains! And  
you already have six artificial bodies. My gift is not so much  
original, sorry.

Yet, now, each morning you can choose which body you will hang on (and  
have a different body for each day of the week now!). Of course in the  
evening you make a backup of the entire plan of the whole machinery  
which constitutes yourself, and in the morning (after having made the  
"plan"  running on your big home computer for the delight of dreaming,  
for example) you have the ability to choose which body and which brain  
suits better for the day, a bit like you can choose which clothes suit  
you better. All right?

But if you can choose which body (including the brain) you can use,  
this means you are NOT your body. Your body is much more like a  
vehicle, like a car.

You can also dispose your seven different bodies in seven different  
planets, and use the internet as a locomotion transport. You can  
travel at the speed of light (except for the month of encoding- 
uploading and downloading-decoding, alas, we are only in the year  
2508!).

The point is that you are more of the type of an immaterial pattern or  
information structure. You still need some material world around you  
(apparently), for interpreting that information pattern, so that your  
experience can be manifested relatively to that material world, but,  
it seems to me, *you* are immaterial, as immaterial as a number, which  
can encode your soul on a disk. That is *digital* mechanism, the  
machine's plan is what count, as far as it captures the relevant  
instantaneous state from which you hope to survive the substitution  
that the plan makes relatively possible.

A less fictionful argument in favor of (relative) digital mechanism is  
the discovery of a plan of the molecular organization which supports  
us, and the fact that by eating and defecating and breathing we change  
quasi-completely our molecular structure every seven years. Actually a  
much shorter time for most organ, but the bones are slower; I think. I  
guess Stathis knows more on this. Molecular biology is what has made  
most biologist convinced that our bodies are organic ("natural")  
machines, self-repairing and self-transforming through a rather  
incredible giant chemical reaction, itself evolving through a long  
chemical history.

But once we make precise the hypothesis, fictionful argument are no  
less valid, and you see that once a machine bet she is a machine, by  
explicitly embracing a complete substitution of the (relative) body,  
she has to bet "she" is not material. *she* can be better captured by  
an invariant patten, or by a slowly variant pattern, capable to  
survive wherever the correct plan is instantiate with respect to the  
expected context.

Xenocrates said: "the soul is a number which moves itself".  Here the  
"plan of the machine", codable by a number (and may be downloadable on  
the net), plays a role similar to Xenocrates' soul. In some sense I  
disagree with Xenocrates, but at this stage of the reasoning, you can  
identify yourself with the number which encodes a description of your  
body and mind, and in that sense, you are a number, which each evening  
put itself on a disk, and each morning choose among seven bodies to  
fit the day.
With mechanism, you can save your soul on a disk.

All right?

This is almost the definition of the comp hyp. You say "yes" to the  
doctor who proposes to you an artificial, and actually digital, brain.
The mechanist assumption is that, with all the usual by default  
assumptions, you do survive, in the usual sense of surviving an  
hospital operation.

But then *you* can choose your body, so you are not your body. All  
right?
Do you see in which sense I am saying that *you* are immaterial, once  
you assume Mechanism?



Now, I comment your post:




On 11 Dec 2008, at 13:30, Kim Jones wrote:
>>
>>
>> The main idea is that a machine or a mechanism is something that is a
>> finite combination of a finite number of elementary parts (or locally
>> finite, since it could grow). In all circumstances, it's behaviour
>> can be
>> explained or reduced to the predictible local behavior of the
>> elementary parts. When the elementary parts are many, this leads to
>> differential equations.
>> When not so many, it gives rise to difference equations or recursive
>> processes.
>
>
>
> = fractalism (point of view)? This may mean the simplest machines that
> exist are probably fractal in nature, already self-referential.


Yes. But manufactured machines could seem less so (although they are,  
look at chips, or cities). Now, manufacturing need planning and  
genuine local but finite description; so mechanism admits (local)  
bottoms.




> That
> already evokes consciousness, doesn't it? Fractals are extremely self-
> referential highly arresting patterns. Consciousness may only require
> recursion to emerge (assuming MAT)

Why assuming MAT? For God sake, Kim, this is introducing the bullet  
which prevents science to really tackle the "hard problem of  
consciousness". May be you are not yet really aware of that problem,  
but it is ok, most of what I try to explain is that this is a "real  
problem", and we are far to solve it. My point will be (and has  
already been) that if we assume MEC, not only we don't grasp  
consciousness, but we don't grasp matter neither. The mechanist  
hypothesis makes, strictly speaking, the mind-body problem two times  
more complex than what most materialist believe in general. Yet we  
will inherit of a cute theory of mind, indeed computer science. And  
for matter we will get a path to extract it from computer science...).



>
>
> It seems to me that 'consciousness' is deeply embedded in the very
> idea of what a machine is - not Descartian dualism for me - just the
> result of recursive patterning reaching a critical simplicity


I could be OK with this. We will see.



>
>
>
>>
>> The very idea of "explanation" often implicitly or explicitly relies
>> on mechanism, or on "a" mechanism.
>
>
>
> An explanation is then, something with logical connections that is
> itself in some ways machine?


Not entirely. Let me anticipate. There will be a 3-soul, and a 1-soul.  
The 3-soul is the one you can save on a disk. The 1-soul is different,  
you can't really save it on a disk, unless you make a bet. And only an  
1-soul can feel the qualia of having understood an explanation.
The 1-soul is not *really* a machine. It is related to the fact that a  
machine cannot really know which machine she is, but can eventually  
understand that the "she" she is has really no name, and assuming MEC,  
you can add that this unameability is relative. After all, you do  
choose your bodies and clothes in the morning of that 2508 unbirthday,  
didn't you.



>
>
> Does not an explanation usually also *specify* a description of the
> thing explained? A description is always the result of a certain
> perspective. Is the perspective of the description able to be
> formalised?


Yes. The crazy (but a bit technical) thing, is that we can formalize  
at some level both the formalizable part of the machine, and its non  
formalizable parts. There will be a perspective such that something  
necessarily informal, get some describable shape. this is not for  
tomorrow, but I can explain. It is in the B. part of the plan.


>
>
>
>>
>>
>>
>>> I've always thought
>>> I was a machine.
>>
>> This is not obvious.
>
>
> Except to he who believes it or feels it to be right


And I am sure you do, especially when you try your new body.  But have  
you heard about the case of the Major X. After a classical  
teleportation experiment, he lost sight and hearing. he was blind and  
deaf, yet he said everything was fine. He was suffering agnosologia,  
je did not even remember that he has ever see or hear, nor does those  
ideas make any sense for him now. But he likes to assure everyone that  
the teleportation experiment was a complete success!
You can't (we will see that this is a mechanist imperative) exclude  
(local or partial) zombies, once you assume the comp hyp. You have to  
pray a little bit! And understand those who say "NO" to the doctor.



>
>
>
>
>> Is the system Earth-Moon really a machine?
>> Already with the rough definition given above, we could doubt it, if
>> only because the Moon-Earth system is usually described by"infinite"
>> real variable functions. The real functions operate on the real
>> numbers, the "points" of the line, which are infinite "objects". With
>> quantum mechanics the apparent real things get digital, but if you
>> keep the collapse of the wave, it is hard to even describe you as
>> either a physical thing still less a machine.
>
>
> Well, yes. This is what is usually referred to as "splitting" (wave
> collapse) which always sounded to me like magic
> Decoherence kind of explains it

Decoherence gives the right macroscopic measure. I think so (assuming  
QM).


>
>
>
>
>> With the many world, the
>> "usual" mechanist explanation of the observer is preserved, except  
>> for
>> the classical mechanics behind. (Albeit only logicians, to be sure,
>> have provided, computable or mechanist function on the reals with non
>> computable derivatives).
>
>
> Mr Spock pointy ears are growing on you right now - wear them with  
> pride


Don't hesitate to remind me!



>
>
>
>>
>>
>> And what about the "believers"? Jacques Arsac, a french computer
>> scientist wrote a book beginning by "I am a Catholic so I cannot
>> believe in Artificial Intelligence, and its point is that we are not
>> machine.
>
>
>
> Is this a case where the Catholics are maybe right on something?
> I'm also happy to 'not be a machine' if Professor Father Arsac has
> God's authority over it


The Catholics and the non Catholics are right on something.
The Catholics and the non Catholics are wrong on something else.

Are you willing to follow a path which can lead you to have a bit more  
doubt on the existence of ... the universe, and a little less doubt  
about the existence of ... something so big that it has no name (let  
us say).

I agree 100% to reject all authoritative arguments.


>
>> Renault, the car firm, made an advertising based on the idea
>> that "you are not a machine
>
>
> Did they sell more or less cars as a result of this?


:)   (I don't know)




>> But the real trouble with the "mechanist idea" is its apparent
>> elimination of the subject, it explains consciousness "away".
>
>
> So I'm happy with that too already. We aren't here. The universe is a
> joke


A part of it is a joke, but there is a reverse medal: a part of it is  
not a joke. Think about those who suffers.
I could argue (but this is not part of the plan) that with comp, it is  
like with some school of buddhism. To really understand the joke you  
have to first help and let go all creatures of all the universes to  
nirvana. After, only after, your mind will be at peace to get the joke  
right.
I'm afraid. Don't take this literally, but think about those who  
suffers or got bad consciousness experiences. They are not at a good  
place for appreciating the joke, even if from some perspective, they  
are at the best place.




>
>
>
>
>
>> Not only does
>> mechanism not solve the mind body problem, but when mechanism and
>> materialism are combined, as is usually still done, you get
>> nihilism. This is really my point. I was just anticipating.
>
>
> You mean that there is no future in nihilism? Can't we find a role for
> meaninglessness in all of this?


Weird question. If meaninglessness is meaningful now, gosh, that  
meaningless!


>
>
>
> Would we be be able to recognise meaninglessness somehow? I felt
> pretty meaningless after I received a redundancy from my last  
> employer,
> but it was only a feeling

Take care.


>
>
>
> Sorry for the (perhaps pointless for some) digressions but reality
> truly is fractal - I have to keep zooming in. Will return soon to the
> Plan


OK. Tell me then if you get the point of your immateriality, once you  
assume comp and accept, for example, my 2508 unbirthday gift.


Bruno
http://iridia.ulb.ac.be/~marchal/




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