On 18 Jan 2010, at 19:40, Brent Meeker wrote:

Bruno Marchal wrote:

On 17 Jan 2010, at 09:11, Brent Meeker wrote:

"The reason that there is Something rather than Nothing is that
Nothing is unstable."
  -- Frank Wilczek, Nobel Laureate, phyiscs 2004

So, why is Nothing unstable?

Because there are so many ways to be something and only one way to be nothing.

I suspect Frank Wilczek was alluding to the fact that the (very weird) quantum vacuum is fluctuating at low scales. Indeed in classical physics to get universality you need at least three bodies. But in quantum physics the vacuum is already Turing universal (even /quantum/ Turing universal). The quantum-nothing is already a quantum computer, although to use it is another matter, except that we are using it just by "being", most plausibly right here and now.

Nothing is more "theory" related that the notion of "nothing". In arithmetic it is the number zero. In set theory, it is the empty set. In group theory, we could say that there is no nothing, no empty group, you need at least a neutral element. Likewize with the combinators: nothing may be tackle by the forest with only one bird, etc.

Maybe you're a brain in a vat, or a computation in arithmetic. I'm happy to contemplate such hypothesis, but I don't find anything testable or useful that follows from them. So why should I accept them even provisionally?

We may accept them because it offers an explanation of the origin of mind and matter. To the arithmetical relations correspond unboundedly rich and deep histories, and we can prove (to ourselves) that arithmetic, as seen from inside leads to a sort of coupling consciousness/realities. (Eventually precisely described at the propositional by the eight hypostases, and divided precisely into the communicable and sharable, and the non communicable one).

This can please those unsatisfied by the current physicalist conception, which seems unable to solve the mind body problem, since a long time.
It took over three hundred years from the birth of Newton and the death of Gallileo to solve the problem of life. The theory of computation is less than a century old. Neurophysiology is similarly in its infancy.

But I do think that the computationalist hypothesis leads indeed to a conceptual solution of the mind body problem. The self-reference logics explain the gap quanta-qualia, free-will in a deterministic frame, etc. Yet, I insist that for such a solution really working, we have to derive the physical laws from it. In that sense, the solution is in its infancy.

Why shouldn't we ask the question "where and how does the physical realm come from?". Comp explains: from the numbers, and in this precise way. What not to take a look?
I have taken a look, and it looks very interesting. But I'm not enough of a logician and number theorist to judge whether you can really recover anything about human consciousness from the theory. My impression is that it is somewhat like other "everything" theories. Because some "everything" is assumed it is relatively easy to believe that what you want to explain is in there somewhere and the problem is to explain why all the other stuff isn't observed. I consider this a fatal flaw in Tegmark's "everything mathematical exists" theory. Not with yours though because you have limited it to a definite domain (digital computation) where I suppose definite conclusions can be reached and predictions made.

OK. The main point is that the comp "everything", which is very robust thanks to Church thesis, leads to the idea that "matter" is a sum on the everything. This is arguably the case in empiric physics as exemplified by Feynman quantum sum. If this was not the case, David Deutsch critic on Tegmark would apply to comp. The explanation would be trivial.

Again, the big advantage here is that we get the whole physical with a clear explantion why some of it is sharable (quanta) and some of its is personal and unsharable (qualia).

To take the physical realm for granted is the same "philosophical mistake" than to take "god" for granted. It is an abandon of the spirit of research. It is an abstraction from the spirit of inquiry.

Physicalism is really like believing that a universal machine (the quantum machine) has to be priviledged, because observation says so. I show that if "I am turing emulable", then in fine all universal machines play their role, and that the mergence of the quantum one has to be explained (the background goal being the mind body problem).

But if you follow the uda, you know (or should know, or ask question) that if we assume computationalism, then/ we have just no choice in the matter/.

Unless we assume matter is fundamental, as Peter Jones is fond of arguing, and some things happen and some don't.

- either that fundamental matter is Turing emulable, and then it will appears in platonia, in some third person way, and it would just mean that there is a winning universal machine for the physical world. But that kind of matter has not to be assumed. - or, that fundamental matter is not Turing emulable, and to need it to survive makes it impossible to accept a digital brain susbstitution and to believe that you can survive "qua computatio".

This is not a rigorous argument, but it convinces some people! The "rigorous argument" is the movie graph argument.

The notion of matter has to be recovered by those infinite sum. If not, you are probably confusing computation (number relations) and description of computations (number describing those number relations). It is almost like confusing i and phi_i. It is the whole point of the universal dovetailer argument (uda).

To sum up, unless we continue to put the mind under the rug, like Aristotelian, we have just no choice here.

The goal is not in finding a new physics, but in deriving the (unique, by uda) physics from logic+numbers through comp. A priori, that physics could be useless in practice, like quantum physics is useless in the kitchen. The advantage is that this "solves" conceptually (as much as it show it possible) the consciousness/ matter riddle.

I don't see that it has solved the problem. It has shifted it from explaining consciousness in terms of matter to explaining matter and consciousness in terms of arithmetic.

OK. That's the main point.
At the same time it provides a "theory of mind" which is just computer science/ provability logic. It shows that (Löbian) machine introspection makes the machine developing discourses on epistemic terms which have well accepted axiomatization, like knowledge (S4 modal logic). In fine it shows that machines introspecting themselves eventually stabilize on a Plotinian theology, and it gives an arithmetical interpretation of all Plotinian terms.

That has the advantage that arithmetic is relatively well understood. But just having a well understood explanans is not enough to make a good explanation.

What testable prediction (not retrodiction) does the theory make?

Usually theories are derived from observation (and reflexion). Here the theory is derived from a "philosophical" (theological) assumption: I can be reincarnated in a machine (comp). But the theory is "complete": it predicts everything predictable. It predicts the existence of particles and their mass, with all the decimals. The price to pay is that such prediction are very difficult to make. The contrary would have been astonishing, and yes today, it is absolutely impossible to use it in any practical way. But as you say, comp is young. And the goal is not in the application, but in figuring out the possible nature of reality.

Can your theory elucidate the difference in consciousness between me and my dog?

It predicts that consciousness is basically the same for all self- referential entities. But the experiences and first person memories are different. It predicts that higher state of consciousness are accessible through amnesia and many other self-perturbation, so that we can have an experience of the difference between the "hypostases" (points of view).

Can it tell me how to make a conscious computer?

Yes. It is enough to make it Löbian, and this will happen if you put the induction axioms in its set of beliefs. Then the basic heuristic for development and entanglement with probable local histories can be given by "help yourself". We may pray that the Heaven will help "you" (but this cannot be part of the machine beliefs).

Can it tell me whether all of my brain is needed for consciousness?

You don't need a brain to be conscious. You need a brain to manifest your consciousness relatively to some histories. You need a brain for relative personal memory, and to distinguish yourself locally from others. But "your" consciousness is already in the arithmetical Platonia, ready to differentiate into different and incompatible experience. You are an instantiation of a universal person.

What happens to the consciousness of people with Alzheimers?

Comp prevents any theory to describe the consciousness of "other people". We may speculate though. Given that Alzheimer's disease demolishes the whole brain eventually, we may say that the experience could be a feeling of coming back to home or (arithmetical) heaven, a bit like with some entheogen. In the meantime it could be anything, because the destruction of brain cells seems to be rather aleatory. I have known two old people with Alzheimer. One seemed to enjoy a sort of permanent bliss, the other was seemingly suffering a lot.

Computer science and the provability logic explains already a lot, including where the laws of physics come from. But please remember that the goal is not in explaining things. On the contrary, the goal is to explain that if we are willing to accept the computationalist theory, then the mind-body problem is partially reduce to an explanation of the physical laws from numbers (or combinators, ...). What I say is a conditional: IF mind is explainable by computer science, then matter has to be explained by computer science too. It predicts that matter is not entirely Turing emulable, non locality, non material 100% cloning, etc.

My point is just that weak materialism (matter exists primitively) is not compatible with the idea that the (generalized) brain is Turing emulable.

I answer your other post here too:

This is what computer science and provability logic explains. Digital pattern, once their combinatorial properties makes them universal, obeys a rich set of mathematical law, which justifies eventually the existence of true undoubtable but incommunicable, yet self-observable, states which are good candidate of qualia.

But that is like saying there are quasi-stable chaotic attractors in the neural processes of brains which are related to perception, feeling, and action and are good candidates for qualia.

This would be dishonest. Chaotic attractors can be used to implement memories, but they would not explain qualia better that conventional programming. It is a magic sort of explanation, and it fails to explain what makes qualia really qualia; that is "uncommunicable global truth felt as personal and direct (say). But the probability logic does explain this. As I say above, machine's introspection does lead them to make discourse about things obeying the definition of qualia. It is due to the gap between G and G* and especially the intensional variant of this gap (X1* minus X1, Z1* minus Z1). It explains the befuddling aspect of those qualities.

Having a "good candidate" how do you test whether it IS qualia.

By listening to the machine discourses. The deductive and inductive discourses. By looking if all this fits with human discourses on the same subject.

I think this is where the theory of consciousness will turn out to be like the theory of life. The description of brain processes and their relation to reported qualia will become more and more detailed and qualia will come to seen to cover many distinct things and eventually the question of what is consciousness will no longer seem to be an interesting question.

That would lead to eliminativism. I don't follow your analogy Life/ Consciousness. The difference between life and not life is a matter of convention. It is a matter of defining the curriculum of the biologist. But consciousness is not conventional, even if in practice it could be. In reality the conscious entity knows that she is conscious, and it could matter a lot (in painful situation for example).

Consciousness is explained by being a fixed point of universal transformation.

Universal transformation of what? Is there more than one universal transformation?

Consciousness is a fixed point of a transformation of a universal machine. There are many of them, but those which lead to consciousness are of the type "self-doubt", a bit like Descartes systematic doubting procedure leads him to an incommunicable ontological certainty.

The only role of 'primitive matter' seems to be that it instantiates nomologically possible things and not others.

Well primitive numbers can also instantiates nomologically possible things and not others. The number 17 can instantiate things like "being prime", "being the code of a variable", "being the address of my girl friend", etc.

 It's the same as saying the world is to some extent contingent.

Then physics no more exist, and is replaced by geography/history. No more laws, invariant for all observers. That would have been the case if the material hypostases were collapsing into classical logic. It would have meant that the laws are variable and contingent. Fortunately it is not the case. Somehow the comp hyp justifies the difference between natural necessary laws, and contingencies. Only what is not derivable from the comp-physics (the material hypostases) will be contingent. Matter and physical laws will be the bearer of the local observable contingencies.

I'm certainly no expert on the philosophy of mathematics, but I have a mathematician friend who is a fictionalist - which I think is what you refer to as "conventionalism". So referring to experts I seem to find it an open question:



You can always find bizarre philosophies. I have more sympathy for ultrafinitists than fictionalist (which is indeed a form of "conventionalism": but "conventionalism is used by mathematician to describe people who take math for something granted and more of the type "language" than theory. As I said Gödel's proof and classical logic makes conventionalism false. Einstein, like many physicists was conventionalist. Read david Deutsch's FOR book for some critics on such position. To say that "3 is prime" is false (cf your reference plato.stanford.edu) is very near wordplay. Worst, those fictionalist seems even not aware that primitive matter is not something clear by itself, even without comp. The conception of primitive matter is already completely different according to the way we interpret quantum mechanics. I read Field's book "science without number" a long time ago. I don't think it is serious. Natural numbers or integers are part of any scientific theory. Only professional philosopher can doubt them. I guess some pays them for that. Do Field trust his bank which works through encoding based on truth like "this big number is prime"? Anyway, to avoid such kind of problem (with conventionalism, ultrafinism) I have put explicitly "arithmetical realism" in the hypothesis. Today I change my mind because people tend to interpret too much in this, and arithmetical realism is already contained in Church thesis.

Math is not only about representations. It is also about facts.

But it is about facts in some timeless, placeless world that seems to be rather different from this one.

Physical reality is how some aspect of mathematical reality appears from inside mathematics. This explains why physics relies on math. Notably. And this without eliminating consciousness and persons.

Do you think there is a fact-of-the-matter about whether the continuum hypothesis is true?

I don't know, plausibly not.
But then I am not a set theoretical realist.
Assuming comp sets may be fictions (!) that the numbers create to simplify their lives. I use only arithmetical realism.



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