Dear Andrew and Bruno,

    Please forgive my intrusion here but I both share a concern with Andrew 
about a concept being discussed and have a series of comments.

-----Original Message----- 
From: Andrew Soltau 
Sent: Friday, March 11, 2011 7:07 AM 
Subject: Re: Movie cannot think 

On 10/03/11 14:10, Bruno Marchal wrote:
> On 10 Mar 2011, at 13:47, Andrew Soltau wrote:
>> All the moments exist, and as Deutsch points out, as you summarise, 
>> 'The appearance of change is already explained by the fact that there 
>> are different frames that have an implicit sequence and in which the 
>> observers state is different', but for change to actually happen, the 
>> magic finger must move. Otherwise reality would be like a movie film 
>> sitting in the can in storage.
> The change in the "working program" is brought by the "universal 
> machine" which interprets it.

Yes, but you still require an explanation of how the machine actually 
runs. All possible states of the machine exist 'already' in an 
arithmetical universe.

    It seems that we need a definition of the implied meaning of the word 
“runs”, but we only end up in a confused state much worse than the one we 
started in when we try to get an answer to this question!!! I can only try to 
explain what this word, in this context, means to me. When I say or write the 
word “a machine runs” there are implications of many things, including the laws 
of thermodynamics. I at least expect that the running of the machine is the 
action of of a physical system that involves the conversion of energy from a 
low entropy to a high entropy state. In this discussion here, we seem to ignore 
almost all of those ideas and concepts when we say “run the machine”. 
    So what exactly are we considering???? Some kind of abstract version of a 
machine. OK, where is this abstract machine located? In our minds? Oh, never 
mind, we have discussed how abstract objects do not have a location per say and 
that they exist (somehow) independent of our cognition of them so the question 
is begged by undermining the premise that abstract object can exist or not 
exist at some location. Does this not imply a Cartesian duality between mental 
concepts and our physical brains? What causal relationship exists between them 
and if no causal connection exists, what explanation is there for the amazing 
synchronization that there appears to occur between physical activities and the 
mental experiences that I am having? But I digress....

    We have this idea that something exists which we represent using some 
system of symbols following some set of rules and consider that the entity that 
that string of symbols represents actually exists independent of our 
representation of it. Does this scheme not implicitly involve a form of dualism 
or complementarity such that there is a categorical distinction between the 
strings of symbols (and their related ancillary rules, relations, definitions, 
etc.) and the entity that they represent? It sure seems to me that it does! 
Maybe I am naïve, but surely other persons can see this implied distinction 
between object and representation! Are we being faithful to the doctrines of 
Ideal monism? Hardly!

    So what does this word salad so far have to do with the topic of this 
thread in the Everything List? Well, we are considering some ideas that seem to 
only apply to the representations and not to objects per say and we are taking 
those representations, treating them as if they are objects themselves and then 
subtracting or neglecting the fact that we are doing just that – treating 
representations of objects as if they are objects having representations 
themselves can have the properties that we would usually only associate with 
physical objects. If we follow this kind of reasoning we can expect that it is 
ok to represent objects as representations of representations of 
representations of representations of .... Is this not an impermissible form of 
infinite regress? What is going on here? Is there some point at which this 
nesting of representations stops? If so what could it be?

> All you need is an initial universal "machine". It happens that 
> addition and multiplication, with first order logic is enough to 
> define such an initial universal system, and the UDA+MGA shows that 
> the laws of mind, including the laws of matter, does not depend on the 
> choice of the initial universal system.
> So elementary arithmetic does emulate, in the mathematical sense, 
> computations.
Naturally. But you still require an explanation of how such arithmetic, 
or how such computations, are carried out. This is where you need an 
'external' time.

    Do we need an “external time” as in another ordered set of positive Real 
numbers acting as a valuation of a sequence of events encoding some 
transformation or do we only need a way of comparing the rate of change of a 
“machine” as it goes through its states as it implements a computation of an 
arithmetic problem to some unit standard of measure of change that is 
compatible with the states of the machine? We usually assume that these two 
possibilities are the same thing, but is that assumption necessarily correct?

> Arithmetic does not just describe all those computations: it literally 
> emulate them. This is not trivial to show, although computer science 
> gives the insight. Computations in arithmetic are not like movie, they 
> are like a observer line universe in a block universe.

Ok. And you still require an explanation of how something moves along 
the line. This is what is missing from physics. It is inherently absent 
in any concept of straightforward existence.

    Is there a movement of any kind or is it something else that we are 
representing as an emulation or movement? Are we really trying to express ideas 
about transitions from one static state to another? Is there some way to 
quantify the degree of “change” of one state relative to another such that we 
are not necessarily required to consider a mapping into and/or onto the 
positive Real numbers? 

> To add an external time reintroduces a mystery where it is not needed.
Provided you can explain how we come to be experiencing change, in other 
words, how it comes to be that the computation is running, as opposed to 
simply existing.

    I will echo Andrew’s concern here! Even if the experience of change in some 
kind of illusion, we would still need an explanation of the illusion! There is 
something that is like to experience change and it seems that the various 
schemes proposed by the eliminatists, such as D. C. Dennett and even J. 
Barbour, somehow fail to bridge the explanatory gap between the 1-p and the 
proposed explanation in 3-p terms. I can have exploratory brain surgery or PET 
tomography or some careful combination thereof and there will be a difference 
between the descriptions of my experiences obtained during the examination and 
the data obtained from the examinations. Why to we seem to work so hard to 
identify these with each other in a one-to-one way when it is obvious that a 
unique one-to-one map between does not exist? The mere fact that there exists 
multiple ways that the data itself can be represented and the fact that 
multiple brains can be scanned that are physically different in their 
topological details is sufficient to prove this claim. So again, why are there 
people that so desperately wish to eliminate the concept of change from 

> That use of time is like the use of "God" as gap explanation by the 
> pseudo-religious (authoritative) people. You will end up with a 
> primitive time, a primitive matter, and why not a primitive "god" 
> responsible for all this.
> That is, in my opinion, the correct insight of Deutsch.

In which case you have to accept that the passage of time is an 
illusion. In this case, you are not a being which witnesses change. You 
are simply, at each moment in time, that which exists at that moment in 
time, and has the illusion, at that moment in time, that you have 
existed at other moments in time. Objectively this is unassailable. 
Subjectively I personally, for one, consider that it does not account 
for my experience.

I don't really think that there is a lot more one can say about it.

    Forgive me Andrew, but there is a lot more that can be said about this! 
First of all, to say that some idea is “objectively unassailable” seems to 
imply that that idea can be clearly understood as having the same meaning and 
implication by any person that considers it. The fact that Bruno, you and I 
take even slightly different meanings from the idea of existing at a moment in 
time undermines the premise and definition of the idea. What I am claiming here 
could be dismissed as mere semantics, but is it really? Words have meanings, 
representations refer to objects, or are we just Boltzmann brains and the 
appearance of sequential agreement in the meanings and implications of our 
symbolic representations just a stochastic congruence that just happens to 
carry one over many states?
    Maybe there is something more going on that we can’t seem to pin down in 
words because we are going round and round in conceptual loops? Could we try 
some other ideas and see if we can escape from this Nietzian nightmare?

> Except that he mentions an "implicit sequence", which is typically 
> made explicit by the universal machine which emulates, albeit 
> statically or arithmetically-realistically, the computation. All 
> computations in that setting are ultimately based on the explicit 
> sequence 0, s(0), s(s(0)), ... (or the equivalent in the combinators, 
> etc.).

    How the sequence is defined, and whether it is fundamentally physical or 
arithmetical, is of no consequence to this - admittedly highly 
philosophical - point.

    Again, the use of the word “emulates” implies an act that is not just a 
static relationship such as what we have between the numbers 1 and 2 and even 
this static relationship requires some kind of physical implementation of the 
symbols used to ascertain the difference between 1 and 2 such that we can 
represent that 2 follows after 1 and that 1 occurs before 2 in the number line. 
As we read this sentence on our computer monitors, there is a physical process 
involving a multitude of different kinds of changes at work in the act of 
manifesting this string of symbols. This fact cannot be pushed aside. Even if 
we are reading a similar sentence in a hard copy of this post, there is a 
matrix of cellulose fibers imprinted with some combination of chemicals in some 
pattern and that matrix of fibers is composed of molecules that are in a 
constant flux of motions. Change cannot be banished from our thinking without 
stultifying the very process of reasoning that we are using to make sense of 
concepts. Are we really trying hard to be mindless zombies or equivalent 
    We are facing a problem that I believe stems from the fact that we are 
trying to represent aspects of existence that are not strictly static with 
representations that depend on being invariant over implementations for their 
implied meaningfulness. The fact that we are using symbols whose physical shape 
must not vary to much from implementation to implementation to represent 
abstract concepts causes that invariance of sorts to box us into a corner where 
we are increasingly unable to conceptualize what change is. The precision of 
mathematical representations has become a vortex –like prison for our minds!



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