Re: How To Live In A Simulation

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Sat Mar 17 2001 - 23:53:35 MST

> Hal commented on the equivalence of real & simulated beings...

On Sat, 17 Mar 2001, Brent Allsop wrote:

> Amongst extropians this isn't that radical of a claim. It
> seems to be your basic extropian dogma which 99% of extropians seem to
> refuse to question regardless of the evidence against it.

No, let us be very clear about this. Simulated beings are quite
likely to require significantly greater resources than "real"
beings. They are therefore less efficient, and therefore place a
fundamental limit on the complexity (un-entropy) you can generate
if you have a requirement for
  (a) continuing to run; or
  (b) saving copies of
all self-conscious entities.

Once you make the choice to value simulations (or history) at a
level equal to or greater than "evolution" you have inherently
limited your exploration of the possible phase space because
you disallow your option of wiping the slate "clean" to start over.

> Conscious knowledge isn't a message, it is the result of a message.

Perhaps we can say "conscious knowledge" is a short-term "executing"
neuronal pattern. If I go to sleep tonight, I will wake up tomorrow
with "mostly" the same memories. However my conscious thought pattern
may think that everything my conscious thought pattern tonight is
thinking was completely wrong.

> [snip] In order to know the true meaning of this binary number,
> you must map it back to salty. [snip] It doesn't matter to a
> simulation. But to us it does matter.

But what you map it back to is entirely based on accumulated
memories. You have salt receptors -- initially they send a
signal to the brain -- but that doesn't connect with anything
(except a low level genetic program that says "salt is good
if your salt levels are low"). But eventually the "salt"
signal gets associated with a whole set of different experiences
(perhaps qualia from your perspective) that when we experience
salt in the future trigger a very large set of association driven
memories that will make our experience of "salty" tastes be
good or bad.

Re: synsthesia
In this case you have "cross-wiring" -- the experiences
that are associated with "red" the red signal somehow get
associated with "salt" as well (or instead).

> When you want to eff with a simulation so that you can know
> what it's representation of salt is like, how could it be possible for
> it to have anything to eff?

This is an "experience" mapping problem. "Red" and "salt" are
simple examples because we can easily generate those input
stimulants and monitor the associated brain activity. Try a
word like "love" or "security". They are going to produce
*extraordinarily* different "meanings" in individual brains.
You either have to "map" one person's interpretation onto the
others (so "salty" becomes "red") or else you have to let
people have full access to the experienced data stream
(with 1-for-1 mappings to the best degree possible).
I myself would find it fascinating to put salt on my tongue,
and be wired into the other person's perceptions such that
my memory of "red" gets stimulated. That is going to be
the world we are entering with high-bandwidth mind-meld
communications availability. Its going to be very scarey
and very rewarding at the same time.

> Once we have enough ability to perform this Moravekian trick
> and start to replace neurons with other material people will finally
> realize that even if the external behavior remains the same, the
> phenomenal conscious qualites will cease to exist. The people will
> finally discover (or finally realize what we've all known all along)
> that our consciousness knowledge is constructed of phenomenal qualia.
> Though what this conscious stuff is phenomenally like can be
> simulated, there is nothing really and fundamentally like it.

I'd mildly disagree -- if the foundation is sensory qualia
as experienced by a majority can be qualified and understood
(i.e. these physical stimulants result in "these" qualia
recreations) then the basis for a translation mapping
can be put into effect. You can even develop a system for
assessing and communicating the "variance" from the baseline that
individuals may have due to genetic or experiental differences.
Provided you map that back onto something that when communicated
"recreates" the same experiences as were generated in the
original situation it doesn't matter whether or not I say
to you 343403 or "red".

The experiences perceived by the brain are "physical" phenomena.
To argue that they cannot be quantified and communicated (if that
is what you are suggesting) is to argue that there is some "magic"
afoot. If "red" is experienced as the pattern of firing of "this"
collection of neurons and I can recreate that pattern of firing
in an identical collection of different neurons, I would assert
that both of those cases are instantiations of "red".

So long as I can recreate the pattern (and the pattern has the
same interpretation in two different "contexts") then I can
transfer the thougts.


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