Re: Emulation vs. Simulation

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Tue Mar 27 2001 - 20:34:02 MST

James Rogers wrote

> I find the distinction between "calculation" and "lookup"
> to be meaningless. At the primitive hardware instruction
> level every program uses the same small variety of atomic
> operations. Do some small sequences of atomic operations
> magically produce consciousness while others do not?

I would love to agree with you. But for about the last 12
years I have been unable to see how they can be the same
thing, unless I take the extreme step and deny that I myself
am conscious. And believe me, it's very aggravating to have
to infer something about a relatively hard and fast concept
like "calculation" or "computation", from a shaky subjective
one like "consciousness"!

But so far as I can see, we are forced to. Here is why: if
we suppose not, then (a) your last 5 minutes of conscious
experience is equivalent to the right program going through
a few billion states on the cpu or biological organism of
your choice. (So far few on extropians would disagree.)

Next, that is equivalent, in turn, to a big lookup table.
(see my post yesterday of "going on a hike with Eugene
Leitl" for a complete description). That is, no information
flows between states! They are not linked by a cause and
effect chain! At each second of the hike, or of your own
last 5 minutes conscious experience, we merely form a 30
bit address made from (i) 10 bits of input that you are
getting at the current millisecond (ii) 20 bits specifying
the state that you are in.

(Now it is that last step which I have been forced to
conclude is where the error in all this is!)

Next, the billions of states making up your last 5 minutes
being looked up in sequence is equivalent to them being
looked up in any order. What difference does it make if
they are rearranged? (Greg Egan did a fairly good job
describing this in the second chapter of Permutation City,
only, unaccountably, he had the intelligent protagonist,
Paul Durham, having trouble understanding that it HAD TO
BE EXACTLY the same, no matter what objective order he
was run in.)

Next, this is exactly equivalent, as I think Robert
Bradbury was getting at earlier, to having all the
billions of state simply encoded in one long string.
Then I ask, why do they actually have to be fetched?

And this is exactly where Egan finally went, with the
ludicrous Theory of Dust. Unless you balk at SOME step
above---I balk that lookups USED EXTENSIVELY AND SOLELY
are computation, at least the kind of computation that
supports consciousness---they you are led directly to
the ludicrous Theory of Dust. Thanks to Jim Fehlinger
for supplying the most devastating rejoinder I ever saw
at > "Dust: Why I Don't Believe It', Susan Stepney:
If I and those that agree with me are right, then this
is a marvelous thing: somehow (a) the cause and effect,
(b) the information flow across time, are essential for
calculations to be conscious. I know it sounds crazy,
but for more than ten years I've seen utterly no escape.

Lee Corbin

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