X-Message-Number: 11612
Date: Sun, 25 Apr 1999 01:18:43 EDT
Subject: Again phonons & turing tapes

Late comers who may want more detail and background, please see recent 
several days of Cryonet. Here a couple of very brief responses to Mike 
Perry's latest:

>Off the top of my head, [we need many-worlds] because we have to account for 
the >interference of single particles, i.e. for what happens when only one 
photon at a >time is involved. Self-interference is straightforwardly 
explained by many-worlds,
>which I don't think is matched by any other theory.
All you need to explain self-interference is to have a wave associated with 
every photon. Call it a "pilot wave" or whatever you like, or think of it as 
wave motion in some underlying medium of lower-level particles. Again, think 
of phonons. We KNOW that these "phenomenological" quanta or "emergent" quanta 
result from wave motion in underlying media that can be regarded as 
classical. Interference of a phonon with itself is not mysterious and does 
not require many-worlds. If there is a valid analogy with fundamental quanta, 
such as photons, then photon self-interference does not require many-worlds 
either, and in fact the hidden-variables explanation (not hidden at all in 
the phonon case!) is not only a potentially adequate explanation, but far and 
away the most economical one.....Of course, the analogy is only conjecture so 
far, and few physicists currently seem to pay any attention to it, but it is 
in many ways much more elegant than many-worlds.

On emulation of a person by a Turing computer:

>This is where I don't follow you. The tape stores a description of the
>mental state of the person. (That is the paradigm I have in mind, at

Again, this appears to me to be equivalent to saying that a description of a 
mental state by any means, including numbers in a book, would be equivalent 
to the actual existence of a mental state in some living entity. 

>This description is being constantly refreshed or updated, albeit
>very slowly and awkwardly. The process of refreshing is being done by the
>machine's writing the tape. So there are indeed "changes in the recorded
>sets of numbers or data stores that correspond  to the mental state of the

But almost all the changes are mere "scratch paper" intermediate 
calculations, not elements of the final description of a successor mental 
state. No doubt you could attach labels to the latter, or have them assembled 
on separate pages of a book; but please look again at the alleged 

a) In the "real" world we have physical objects or systems--obeying laws not 
yet fully understood--that stand in certain necessary relationships, and 
changing in certain necessary ways, to produce a living entity.

b) In the world of (imperfect) isomorphism, the Turing tape, we just have 
successive sets of marks on a tape, equivalent to successive sets of numbers 
in a book. In principle, we can envision this as a very big book with a whole 
lot of  very big pages; each page is just a set of numbers and corresponds to 
a particular mental state of the emulated person. Can you seriously believe 
that this book not merely describes but CONSTITUTES a living individual? 

I don't mean to appear to hammer on Mike (not that he needs protection), but 
I keep trying to ascertain where my attempted expositions fail to be clear or 
persuasive--or where I might (Is it possible?) be wrong. I'm sure Mike does 
the same, in polishing up his book.

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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