Carriers and runners

Alexander 'Sasha' Chislenko (
Sat, 21 Sep 1996 03:02:11 -0400

Thinking seems to be a dangerous thing.
The more I think, the more I feel confused about everything.
Now, I am trying to understand the relation between software
agents and their historical predecessors (higher liquidity
seems to be the primary difference) and also I am reading
Mirror Worlds by David Gelernter where he suggests to create
real-time models of the various systems that would allow us
to perceive and affect the world with a much richer interface,
share representations, etc. Should be easier to deal with
than the Real World, he says. I would agree, except that we
had always contacted the Real World via sensors and actuators.
So will we have a model here, or extended body, or shared

My favorite confusion now is on what "carries" what in the world.
We all know that walls carry paint, people carry ideas,
hardware supports software that runs on it, brain supports
consciousness, etc.

Last year, Minsky on one of his lectures mentioned a red cube -
i.e. an object (cube) that has a quality (redness) to it.
With my usual habit of arguing I suggested to look at it as
a _red_ object with a quality of "cubeness" to it. Why not?
Or just say that an object is a set of qualities/features,
and all of them are comprise it together. So if you strip
all features off, there is no object left.
Our compromise then was that shape seems to be a more persistent
feature than color, so we can call whatever is persistent an
object, and whatever isn't, feature. Now, if you had a world
of things that would retain color but not shape, you would think
of "cubic reds".
Now, people have ideas. Or run them, as hardware runs software.
People are persistent physical things, ideas are flexible and transient;
also, ideas depend on people. Hmm... Physical nature doesn't seem
to be relevant here; who says that ability to communicate to
other objects via gravity or electricity is "existentially superior"
to the ability to communicate via, e.g., http protocol? Persistence?
Many ideas are more persistent than most people. Dependence?
Suppose you know arithmetic and count things for living.
Does it mean that you support and carry the arithmetic, or
that arithmetic supports you and carries you through life?

When software and [successors of] nanotech gain enough control over
matter so that physical objects would be all in flux, created and
disassembled on the whim of immortal functional entities, will that
mean that software will be "running" hardware?
Will things change dramatically then? Or we'll keep claiming that
things that we can perceive directly run things that we can't perceive
directly? (Do I have a more direct perception of gravity than of logic?
- Not if "I" is consciousness!). Did the debate of what carries what
ever make sense?

Did I carry these ideas to my computer, or they carried me to it?


Alexander Chislenko <>
Firefly Network, Inc.: <>