X-Message-Number: 11699
Date: Sat, 08 May 1999 01:56:05 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Darwin, Donaldson, Ettinger, Norton

Mike Darwin, #11685:

>WARNING: The following is likely to be offensive to many of the persons who
>subscribe to this list. If you do not wish to read or be exposed to
>materials which could make you angry, defensive, or otherwise upset you,
>please stop now. This post is also moderately technical, if you don't enjoy
>reading about technical matters, this post probably isn't for you either.

I didn't find it particularly offensive, and I did find it informative, and
I am glad it was posted.  I am sorry to be reminded, once again, of the
apparent severe stresses, disappointments etc. that Mike has experienced
over the years which, it would seem, have not relaxed their grip. But I wish
the best for his research and that of 21st Century medicine generally. "If I
ever get rich," as they say, I will certainly consider contributing to
21CM's budget. And maybe there's actually a chance of it, in view of a
computer project I hope to be working on soon, though of course no guarantee.

Here is one thing that struck me in Mike's message, that I'd like to comment on:

> My dog Cannibal may be the first to get it, and he
>unarguably deserves it more than the vast majority of the rest of you. 
>With a handful of exceptions, only people such as Saul Kent, Bill Faloon,
>and the stalwarts that have worked, and supported the work, to make these
>advances are the only other people remotely deserving of benefit from them

A curse on us, then, Mike seems to be saying, for failing to support the
work like we should have. I have often felt that I would like to support it
more, but my situation has made that rather difficult, and I think that
perhaps what I have been doing and plan to do is best under the
circumstances. I do take issue, of course, with the idea that a life-saving
technology, if that is what has been developed, should be withheld as a sort
of death sentence for those who didn't sufficiently support the effort, even
though I sympathize with the anger and hurt that is apparent here.

To Thomas Donaldson: I have no real argument with you about the practical
issues. Yes, parallel devices will probably not be equalled in their
performance by some ultrafast, sequential processor. (Just clone the
sequential processor and it becomes a parallel device.) In some of my
thought experiments, maybe I didn't make it clear enough that I was trying
to make a philosophical point, not describe a practical system, so I bring
it up once more. There is one other observation that comes to mind, though.
We do hope to become immortal (I do at any rate) which will, by reasonable
arguments, require an unlimited domain for processing information, etc. So
we are committed to hoping the universe expands or otherwise can accommodate
this. If it does, that will open possibilities that otherwise are out of
reach, such as very long and possibly slow computations, which no one may
want to really do, but which will at least be possible in our then
present-day world.

Bob Ettinger, #11687:

>I see no merit in this notion of consciousness relative to a frame of 
>reference. If we say e.g. that the right kind of book is conscious relative 
>to the world of libraries or symbolic records, we have only removed the 
>question from the realm of the verifiable. We have made the statement true by 
>definition, and clarified nothing.

To me it is clarifying. As for the verifiability issue, it becomes something
along the lines of a mathematical problem to decide if a system of records,
embedded in a larger system of records, is what we should call a conscious
entity *relative to* that larger class. In other words, to pursue this idea
seriously we would have to make some detailed definitions of what we mean by
consciousness, etc., and carry out an analysis of the records in question. A
tall order, but one must start somewhere.

Brook Norton, #11689:  

>My comment to Mike Perry would be...
>considering the example of a book emulation of a person.... The isomophism
>is only aware in ITS FRAME OF REFERENCE.  But I see no evidence that >its
frame of reference is operational.

And I don't either.

>  I think the book guy would be aware if
>the books frame of reference were to be entered into somehow or made
>operational in some way

Me too, and this is more or less what I mean when I say "aware *relative to*
a frame of reference. It is not the same as "aware" in a direct sense. A
book character is not aware as we usually understand it.

Mike Perry

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