On 11/03/11 16:54, Stephen Paul King wrote:
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.
Dear Stephen

I am delighted you have interjected. I find your thoughts most helpful and germane.

-----Original Message-----
From: Andrew Soltau
Sent: Friday, March 11, 2011 7:07 AM
To: everything-list@googlegroups.com
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?
( I am not sure that this is directly to do with the issue I am focusing on. If one has a simulation running, then the passage of time in the physical reality in which the simulation is running results in the passage of time in the simulation. The clock cycles of the computer result in the updating of the virtual reality. One can have the folks in the virtual reality running a virtual reality, and the same goes all the way down the line, for as many nestings as one may chose to consider. But for anything to actually happen, in any of the nestings, layers or levels, something has to happen somewhere! At the top level of course. )
> 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
I don't think so
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?
I don't think we need that either. We don't need to know anything about the rate of change of a "machine", all we need to know is how the change of the machine is enacted. With reference to what is there a change of the machine?
We usually assume that these two possibilities are the same thing, but is that assumption necessarily correct?
I am in complete agreement with Bruno's statement that "All you need is an initial universal "machine"." but something has to get that machine to run. Having a universe / multiverse / arithmetiverse in which algorithms exist, and sequences of computations exist, does not in and of itself give rise to those computations actually taking place in any kind of sequential step by step process. All of the possible steps exist 'already'. It is this exact problem, but formulated in terms of physical states, which leads Barbour to say that time does not exist.
> 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?
Even if it is the emulation of a movement, something has to change to give rise to the enactment of the emulation of the movement. The physical may well be the appearance of a physical world formulated in arithmetic, nonetheless, for the emulation to progress, there has to be change of the state of the emulation. (that in turn requires a frame of reference with respect to which there can be said to be actual change of the state of the ... represented by the emulation.)
> 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 consideration?
Agreement Smiley!
> 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!
No problem!
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 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boltzmann_brain> 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 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternal_return>?
The bit I am saying is “objectively unassailable” is by the way the bit that appears as it it might well go against my argument! Deutsch's full quote is

We do not experience time flowing, or passing. What we experience are differences between our present perceptions and our present memories of past perceptions. We interpret those differences, correctly, as evidence that the universe changes with time. We also interpret them, incorrectly, as evidence that our consciousness, or the present, or something, moves through time. (1997, 263)

This, the objective perspective, seems to me to be unassailable, because, as I see it, it is a truism and a tautology (for emphasis, just in case there is any difference between a truism and a tautology!) Each state, moment, symbolic representation, exists, and certain types of these structures contain information representing 'differences between present perceptions and present memories of past perceptions.'. This is just as true of Boltzman brains as it is of real brains, simulated brains, arithmetical computational states representing what we would usually take for the state of a brain in a physical universe, the state of an AI at a certain point in time, and so on.
> 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 automata? 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!
It is the act, the moving of the magic finger, which seems to me to be a / the 'big' question. Not that it is the be all and end all, but simply because so much may follow from it. On my view, change is necessarily a phenomenon meta to existence, defining existence as that which is, either physically, arithmetically or abstract Platonically.
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