Re: Big Bang demiurges (was: Re: El Aleph)

Anders Sandberg (
03 Jan 1999 19:25:29 +0100

Hal Finney <> writes:

> Anders Sandberg, <>, writes:
> > That is a different questions. There are arbitrary computations
> > encoded in the thermal vibrations in my desk. Somewhere it is running
> > my old ZX81 fractal program...
> This is one of the paradoxes of the functionalist model for consciousness.
> If we believe that running a particular AI program is enough to create
> a feeling of consciousness, then it becomes necessary to cleanly define
> what constitutes running such a program. If thermal noise runs every
> program, including super-intelligent AI programs, then presumably there
> are conscious minds everywhere. Can we be sure that our own perceptions
> and memories are more than just fleeting patterns created by random
> vibrations somewhere?

Exactly. I personally have no problems with this, but I can understand that many regard this as utterly weird, perhaps so weird that functionalism doesn't seem likely.

I would say that one needs to distinguish between minds running in permanent systems and minds that just appear without any context. There will be a near-infinity of the former and a much larger number of the later, but only the former are able to have ongoing subjective experience (the others are single "states" with no past or future, even if they could have memories of a past). But things get rather blurred, one could imagine the whole universe, complete with the history from the Big Bang to timelike infinity emerging from some noise somewhere in a bigger universe as just a single state as seen from the perspective of anything in that bigger universe. But to us, there is ongoing history.

Egan has done some fun speculations about this, of course. His story Transition Dreams is rather disturbing.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y