X-Message-Number: 11669
Date: Mon, 03 May 1999 01:54:37 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Emulations and such

Bob Ettinger, #11656, writes:

>(2) Emulations would almost 
>inevitably generate a cascade of sub-simulations which would effectively stop 

No they wouldn't. An emulation emulates everything going on in the emulated
world (or a chosen subset), including any further emulations. The emulation
does not stop the real world, and similarly, the sub-emulation (and any
descendant emulations) would not stop the emulated world, if reasonably
programmed.One basic property of an emulation that you would expect, from
the "real" world, at least, is that it would tie up only a very small part
of the resources. Ditto for all the descendants. As long as we are on the
subject of emulations, however, I agree with Bob that we are more likely to
be "real"--and especially are unlikely to be in some very awkward,
inefficient emulation, e.g. a Turing machine, though that possibility is not
(in my view) absolutely ruled out.

Bob also responds to my suggestion about talking to Richard Dawkins about
cryonics, etc., with the advice "forget the celebs." This is probably
reasonable advice in general but to me Dawkins is someone special, for
having written books like *The Blind Watchmaker*. So I thought he just might
be more amenable than most "celebs" to some of our memes. (I think, by the
way, that Dawkins is the one who came up with the term "meme.")

Damien Broderick, #11660:
>But as Mike Perry replies:
>>A sequential device can emulate a parallel device, albeit at a loss of
>>Not necessarily interact in real-time with processes on the outside, but
>>emulate just the same.
>Actually, while this is so, pitching the discussion in terms of Turing's
>archaic model of a computational device is absurdly restrictive and
>unnecessarily constricts the imagination.  

Of course he is right, but I was doing this for a reason, namely, to
illustrate that emulations *could* happen under very restrictive,
impractical conditions. This was to make a point about consciousness,
awareness, etc. rather than to suggest something we might actually want to
do in the future.  (In particular, the processing of consciousness could be
slowed down arbitrarily, it seems to me, and made sequential, and still
amount to consciousness.) I would be all for dropping the discussion about
emulations in impractical (but at least workable in principle, in my view)
devices. If  others are agreed--yes, let's go on to discuss "the machines we
already have and can expect shortly," as Mr. Broderick says. On the other
hand, not everybody agrees with my philosophical position, so maybe there is
some interest in further discussion along these lines--or do we just agree
to disagree?

Mike Perry

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