Recorded History (Was Re: NEWS: Reuters story on AI)

From: Brent Allsop (
Date: Mon Jul 02 2001 - 13:26:57 MDT

Samantha Atkins <> responded:

> Two assumptions that would be sufficient to recover the private
> life of dead individuals would be:

> a) that it is possible to scan the complete brain/consciousness
> at some point in the future;

> b) that it is possible to time-travel under closure (without
> spawning off some alternate universe).

        Isn't all this just plain old "history"? Every day historians
find out a bit more information about the past. When we have powerful
enough computers - they will calculate and keep track of every
possible internal brain state that would fit within the constraints of
currently known data/history. Sure there will initially be trillions
and trillions of diverse possibilities. (Was there a single gunman
that killed Kennedy or was there more? We still don't know for sure
so we must still keep track of both possibilities at the same time.)
But some day our ability to observe the ever increasing chaos and
entropy with greater detail, and with our increased ability to find
and keep track of historical data... there will be a continual stream
of data which will continually eliminate more and more of the
trillions of possible pasts that could explain the present we now know
about. (Some day we'll likely discover a piece of evidence that will
either prove or disprove the lone gunman theory, eliminating all other
possibilities, right?)

        When people are attempting to extrapolate the future, they get
bitten by chaos theory right? As in a single butterfly wing flap, or
not, could drastically change the weather on the other side of the
world. But does this not work to our advantage when looking back to
the past, given large amounts of data tracking ability? If the
weather is one way, then the butterfly must have flapped it's wings
right? There is only one possible mental version of our great great
grandmother that could account for precisely our lives and environment
right? If they had had any slightly different thought, at any moment
in their lives than the true past, we and our entire world would be
drastically different right?

        The ultimate goal of historians is to eliminate all but one
possible past and thereby achieve a perfect history of everything
right? So that we know the location and state of all particles at any
given time in the past. If this is ever achieved, the historian's job
will be perfectly complete. There will be no more history to do. We
are certainly moving in the right direction and there is no reason
for us to think that we might some day hit a point beyond which it
will be eternally impossible for us to find out any more information
about the past.

        And Sure, it'd be great if we discovered some cosmic quantum
recorder that could give us the location and state of any particle at
any arbitrary time in the past. For then the historians work would be
completed that much sooner right?

        Achieving a perfect history/memory is no different than
"time-travel under closure (without spawning off some alternate
universes" right? But for sure we'll also have fun trying and
simulating billions of - what would have happened had I done something
different - like had another child, or been able to go back in time
and talked to myself... right?

                Brent Allsop

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