X-Message-Number: 11892
Date: Sat, 05 Jun 1999 01:52:55 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: :Consciousness, some replies; mating game

Thomas Donaldson, #11879:
>To Mike Perry:
>The notion of relative consciousness IS interesting. I'd like you to 
>expand upon it.

Very briefly: any phenomenon exists in some sort of overarching reality,
call it a universe or whatever. This could involve universes other than our
own with which we cannot communicate. Deutsch in *The Fabric of Reality*
considers such domains at some length, and he isn't the only one. Our
reality is made of a sequence (more or less) of "snapshots" ordered along a
time axis. Relative to that structure, time progresses, processes happen,
and among other things, conscious observers are found. But overall,
according to this viewpoint, time doesn't flow. By choosing other,
appropriate sequences of snapshots, you obtain other universes each with its
own time-ordering (if time is even well-defined, which it need not be). Some
of these too will contain conscious observers, yet we won't be able to
interact (communicate) with them. The ability of ourselves to interact with
a being, or to assign it to a historical time period during which someone
from our reality could interact, thus is not a necessary condition for
consciousness. So, with such thoughts in mind, we can raise the question of
whether a static record could somehow be conscious. I would say, "not
conscious in our reality" but what of the multiverse at large? Are there
ways of choosing "snapshots" so that portions of the record will occur and
be ordered appropriately along a bona-fide time axis so that an active
process will result, and consciousness appear? Could be. I don't know enough
to pass judgment.

It is interesting though that a static record, if not conscious in our
reality (I think), is not something we could always trifle with. A frozen
human is a kind of static record. Destruction of some static records, the
kind that describe functional human beings, including memories, brain
structure, etc. would be a form of murder.

I have to feel sorry for John Grigg, with his long posting (#11881) about
the difficulties of the mating game. In reference to our future, hopefully
immortal state, I find it hard to believe we'll be taking this sort of thing
so seriously--though this is probably cold comfort now. But after all, the
urgency of finding a mate and bearing offspring is rammed into our brains by
natural selection, as its way of coping with our mortality. We hope to
develop a different approach to this problem, and it will be interesting to

see how that ends up affecting our outlook, our values and our drives. Cheer up.

Now, to go on to Bob Ettinger's posting #11882, which I will not be able to
answer in detail if I want this message to appear later today, which I do.
(More later perhaps). But basically, even turning the pages of the Turing
Tome is some kind of active process, as opposed to just letting it sit there
on the shelf or wherever you keep it. We are imagining, of course, a "Tome"
like none that has ever been constructed, with who knows how much detail per
"page" and who knows what processes that might be traced out in the
interactions of photons, etc. as the pages are turned and the various
particles strike the various symbols on the page. What if you had 10^60
symbols per page? So in these circumstances, I don't think it too farfetched
to suggest that some sort of consciousness *might* result. And maybe even
sitting on the shelf the Tome could be said to support consciousness in some
domain of the multiverse--see my comments above.

Mike Perry

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