X-Message-Number: 11082
Date: Tue, 12 Jan 1999 12:36:02 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Quantum Mechanics, Turing Machines, Identity

Brook Norton, #11072, writes, 

>If  you see the knife, and a photon in your brain
>goes left instead of right, you still butter bread either way because you
>are hungry and happy.  A single photon doesn't change that and so doesn't
>affect your decision.  Yeah, maybe the QM effects add up over years and it
>causes you to do something differently eventually but propagation from QM
>to macro actions would take a long time.

Not necessarily years. Don't forget that events don't just happen
one-at-a-time, but many, many events are happening in parallel, each of
which have their own probabilities of going one way or another. So in some
(maybe only a relative few) of the parallel universes some extraordinarly
coincidences could lead to strikingly different outcomes. A normally
non-suicidal person could experience the right, short progression of brain
events that would make suicide seem attractive, etc.  

>You would butter your bread in
>ALL universes that were identical up to the point when you spotted the

Again, maybe in most but not all.

>Regarding the Turing machine.... I'm from the school of thought that the
>Turing test is not significant.  I'm perplexed why it receives plausible
>review on Cryonet.  If it communicates like a human it must be conscious?
>The problems with this seem fatal, fairly straight forward, and
>insurmountable.  Take for example a random letter generator.  Suppose it
>spits out letters that form a convincing dialogue with you.  The random
>letter generator is not conscious and so the Turing test theory is false.

It's very, very unlikely that a "random letter generator" could just spit
out text that would seem to be coming from an intelligent person who
understands what you are saying and is responding in turn. So unlikely you
can discount this possibility, like water freezing in the summer heat, which
is possible by quantum mechanics, but not likely to be observed in billions
of years.

I also agree with Charles Platt's basic contention that there is a lot of
redundancy on CryoNet about the issues of identity (even if this topic is of
great interest to me, which it is). For this reason I have cut back my own
commenting. I have worked through a lot of these issues in my forthcoming
book (while trying to keep up with other writings on the subject that are
proliferating)--once again I hope to have it ready for review soon. 

Mike Perry

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