Re: Freedom of shape (was: thermal poultry)

From: Eugene Leitl (
Date: Thu Feb 10 2000 - 14:11:06 MST

Robert J. Bradbury writes:

> I agree that in the long run we will probably be entities of
> pure thought, but during the evolutionary period, I don't think

We don't know what we will be. We don't know whether discrete
individuals will still exist, whether we will have a hierarchy of
metaindividuals of all scales, or we all dissolve into a structureless
freely diffusing meme soup, filling up all available substrate. It is
also certainly not under individual control (i.e. for me/you to
decide), but a result of a coevolutionary drift. We don't know whether
diversity will be amplified or eradicated. We don't know anything. Big
surprise, huh?

> many would survive a situation in which they went from being
> embodied to disembodied overnight. You lose a *lot* of "hooks"

If you're just noninteracting (VR wraith), but retain your body image,
then you are soon bored. Extremely bored, perhaps enough to wax
psychotic. If you just simulate the brain as a self-contained,
isolated unit, then you'll start hallucinating real soon, and be a
virtual vegetable after a few subjective months/years, assuming no
further stabilisation constraints.

> on which concepts based on sensory experiences rest. Question:
> what fraction of language(s) would you lose if there were no
> physical "senses"? (colors, sounds, positional concepts, perhaps
> some emotions, etc.) They might be replaced by physical science
> specifications or mathematical representations but that requires
> training in quite different perception and throught processes
> than most of us currently have.
But there are physics of computation originated constraints, which do
not let you decouple entirely from the underlying physical
reality. You can't slow down your clock too much, or you go extinct.

> Until we develop a meme set and a language (object exchange protocols?)
> for the disembodied, I think we are going to have to retain the illusion
> of having bodies. You, Eliezer, are perhaps on the cutting edge

We are visual beings, and we use linear phoneme sequences for
communication. These will probably persist for a while.

Of course golems will have probably other means of communication. In
ALife experiments coevolving robot colonies develop their own

> of considering what may be required for these representations and
> exchanges. I would suspect that 90+% of people who consider themselves
> transhumanists haven't thought very much about this problem perhaps
> in part because it is so hard to think about while we are still stuck
> in bodies.

It is not hard, it is impossible to think about.

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