Re: Galaxy brain problem

Steve Witham (
Sat, 16 Aug 1997 20:06:12 -0400

>On Mon, 11 Aug 1997, Max M (Not More.. Not less) wrote:
>>[...]I will incorporate my uploaded mind
>> into the fabric of a galaxy. [...] where do I keep the backup?

This question is a cheerful and spunky way to start the day.

goeff replies:

>In a competitive universe of galaxy brains, can one brain afford to waste
>half it's matter on duplication?

Now, let's not jump to conclusions about "half its matter."

Remember, you don't have to duplicate all the information unless you're
worried about losing *all* (and only one copy of) the information. To
recover from one bit lost out of m, you need something like log2(m) extra
check bits. As the number of errors you want to be safe from approaches
infinity (it could be > m) the checkbits per loseable bit goes down toward
one. RAID experts correct me if I'm wrong.

Me I would have my information scattered in secret--or very public--
places. On my enemies' computers, for one example.

In a universe converted to computers, and assuming there are still
the famously problematical Other Entities, then there would be
a market in storage with various combinations of features like speed
and safety. So your casual information or temporary working storage
might be stored in cheap but flakey memory, your more critical
information multiply backed up and distributed, and your really
crucial core self-definition stuff incorporated into every cubic
meter of the universe, say. (I mean if you're just starting to plan
your personal storage policy, this might be a good place to start.)

Then there's the opportunity of "mutual information". Not only do
different people keep literal copies of the same things, but different
chunks of information can be similar in the sense that you can save space
by compressing the combination rather than compressing each separately.
This means that the storage services could save space by only storing
once what more than one person wants stored.

So you might not have to store your own copy of "what it means to be
an intelligent entity," or "what a libertarian gets out of the New York
Times," only the uniquely-you stuff. And of course the more of a Taoist
you are, the more you simply mirror the Way Things Are, so that fewer
and fewer things that can happen count as errors for you. If you become
completely One with the laws of nature then nothing can violate you.
If you are the universe there is no catastrophe against which you need
backups, Max. So don't spend your retirement in paranoia--kick back
and relax, you've earned it!

The problem of saving space on mutual information without compromising
privacy or the desire to have actual redundant copies (if you contract
out to someone to store your backups, how do you know he isn't just
storing them on your system as redundant copies that you've compressed
away?), seems really tough but worth pursuing.


--           Steve Witham          web page under deconstruction
"These blues ain't nothin' like the blues I had
 before I paid a little debt I owed.
 When I get these blues I just look back down that road."
   --Jimmy Dale Gilmore