X-Message-Number: 18438
Date: Tue, 29 Jan 2002 16:44:30 EST
Subject: time shuffles

Still talking about a hypothetical digital computer simulating a person.

After a while, the computer could have a detailed history of the person's 
simulated life. It might also (in principle) have been coupled to the person 
for a long time, recording data from the live person, and have a record of 
the organic person's history, since it is being used as a back-up, to 
recreate the person in simulation in case the organic person is destroyed.

O.K., the person is blown up in an accident, but the computer recreates him 
and lets him carry on his life in simulation (if you buy that possibility, 
which I don't). Now after a while the computer or its operator could, if it 
chose, run additional simulations, either in the same computer or in a 
different one, starting at any time of which it had a record (if not earlier 
by retrodiction) and as much later as the person lived in the simulation. 

Now suppose the available life history is divided into segments, say decades 
of the subjective life of the person. These could be run separately, in any 
order. The simulated person would not know the order, and in every case he 
would feel normal, assuming a simulated person can feel. Yet his subjective 
future could be in his objective past, as I intimated in an earlier note. I 
don't claim this proves anything in particular, but it raises questions.

Once it has them on record, the computer could also run its sequences of sets 
of numbers backwards, and the simulated person would "live" backwards. If he 
drops a glass and breaks it in the original computation, when the quantum 
states are written in reverse order the simulated glass will rise from the 
floor and reassemble. What will the simulated person feel, if anything? 

One response, of course, is that a computer can make fictional scenarios, and 
a fictional scenario is not a simulation. But EVERY simulation is fictional 
in some degree, for at least two reasons--the fuzziness of the uncertainty 
principle, and the lack of complete knowledge of the laws of physics to embed 
in the program.

Furthermore, whether the program is a true simulation, and whether the 
activity in the computer represents something alive, are two separate 
questions. The fact that a particular program is not faithful to reality in 
certain respects does not in itself prove anything about whether the 
simulated person could be alive and conscious.

Anyway, don't beam me over, Scotty; I'll take the bus.

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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