Re: Emulation vs. Simulation

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Mon Mar 26 2001 - 11:38:30 MST

On Mon, 26 Mar 2001, Damien Broderick wrote:

> I ask this in ignorance: how quickly could such a monster look-up
> table--listed, presumably, by a god, or someone else equal to the task--be
> looked up (magic physics not allowed in this test)?

Damien, see my response to Lee for a discussion of some of this.
To answer your question properly you have to state whether you
are running the zombies in the 'real' world or in the simulation.

In a simulation it doesn't matter because you slow down the
'conscious' being sufficiently for the zombies lookups to succeed.

In the 'real' world, the question is how much memory can you
put in the brain or how far an encoded radio transmission
can go in the granularity of human attention (~0.01 sec probably).
So if light travels a foot a nanosecond, then you have 10^7 feet
divided by 2 (if you want a bidirectional transmission).

So you can communicate out-of-body for the lookup over hundreds
or perhaps thousands of miles. If you have to keep it within
the body, you've can fit several times Avagardo's number of atoms
within your brain casing -- that is *a lot* of memory. If its
a complete nanotech zombie, you can add most of the rest of the body
as available memory. Don't quote me on this but I'd guess you
are pushing 10^28 bits in theory. If you can encode the memories in
electron spin states or energy levels its going to go even
higher. Compare that with the "recall" memory of humans of
less than 10^9 bits ("recognition" memory may be higher).
So you can *theoretically* have walking around a lookup table
of human memories of 10^19 bits. Now how you translate that
really big number into the bits or patterns required to
determine 'behaviors' I don't know.

I think you would want to think about how long it takes you
to 'learn' specific patterns (throwing a ball, driving a
car, putting words together creatively, etc. Then take
that time as a fraction of the total human recall capacity
and assume that is the 'behavior' bit requirement. Obviously
there is a large amplification that is occuring when you
take a small behavioral bit pattern and "manifest" it in

The recall times can be *very* fast for the reasons I mention
in the response to Lee. Whole branches of computer science
are based on concepts of data caches, locality of reference,
organizing it hierarchically, multiple simultaneous accesses,
etc. We know how to organize this stuff. For example ram
memory access times are now I would guess around 10 nanoseconds.
Disks a few 10s of millisecconds. Add a few nanoseconds
for routing the data through the body. Its very fast.
Much faster than the "frame rate" for human attention.

> BTW, this possibility seems to me to fall over dead in just the way that
> Skinner's behaviorism did when famously assailed by Chomsky (and wasn't
> there an exchange along these lines just a few weeks ago? what a shame I
> can't look up the table and find out).

Could you elaborate on this a bit further? I'm not connecting
the references and the discussion.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon May 28 2001 - 09:59:43 MDT