X-Message-Number: 15149
Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2000 06:26:52 -0500
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: 2 more comments, current and old

Hi everyone!

The piece by Mark Plus is a very interesting antidote to people going
on about how the rate of progress has increased. I am not so sure
that it really represents what is going on, but I'd also say that 
whatever may be the rate of progress, and how it is to be measured,
it's far from clear that we're going much faster than before.

As for current progress, I'd look more at changes in the underdeveloped
world (and countries which many of us remember as underdeveloped but
which now are not) than at changes in the industrialized center. Work
on agriculture, for instance, has done a lot to provide more food 
for people than before .... not in the developed world, where there
was no scarcity, but in the underdeveloped areas such as India. The
really central changes are going on elsewhere.

As for medical advances, the piece Mark Plus reprints basically 
underlines a fundamental problem that most doctors have utterly failed
to address: it's been clear now for at least 30 years that further
significant increases in lifespan can only be obtained by working
against the phenomena which cause AGING. Any other work basically 
does small things on the margin. How long societies will take to 
realize that and change where they center their medical research 
I don't really know, but that's where they'll have to direct their
attention. And to the extent that a society does NOT do that, it will
fall behind.

Finally, I got to read Mike Perry's answer to my short reply to
him. This was back towards the end of November (27th, I think). Basically
he argues that speed does not matter ie. if we make a machine which
imitates me, or Bob Ettinger, or anyone reading this, it won't matter
at all that it works far more slowly that I, Bob Ettinger, or the 
readers work.

This should be clearly fallacious. First, if we put such a machine
in the real world, it simply won't survive very long. The speed with
which we operate may not necessarily be best, but to work far more
slowly is a guarantee to mishaps which will kill us. If, on the other
hand, we take such a slow version of us and have it live in a universe
which is similarly slowed down, we escape one problem only by putting
ourselves in the midst of another: where does this ENTIRE SLOWED 
UNIVERSE come from, and how do we create it? For that matter, just
what is the point of doing so? We want a computer version of ourselves
which runs at least as fast, not one what can survive only in an
artificial universe which we make ourselves.

For that matter, Mike's original answer to my comment didn't really
explain even how to make a computer version (which would naturally
fulfil the demands of Turing). After all, if I read him right, the 
only thing he's doing is saying: OK, I don't know if making a human
"computer" must necessarily do things Turing's computer cannot, so
I'll suggest instead that we make an entire universe containing that
human "computer". Or to put it more directly, if I can't solve 
one complex problem, I can at least put it inside another even
more complex problem. In what way is the entire universe imitatable
by a Turing machine? For that matter, even if it were, does it
follow that parts of it are also? Lots of assumptions here, based
on no more than a belief in the merits of an older theory about

		Best wishes and long long life to all,

			Thomas Donaldson

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