X-Message-Number: 21663
Date: Fri, 25 Apr 2003 09:43:34 -0400
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: CryoNet #21658 - #21661

Mostly here for Mike Perry, with a bit for Keith Henson:

For Mike Perry:
First, you might do a bit of reading about quantum computing and 
qubits. None of the points you bring up actually discuss Turing 
machines as compared to quantum computers. A Turing machine is a 
machine which works on an infinitely long tape divided into small
lengths, for brevity containing 1's or 0's. It can move forwards
or backwards on that tape, and mark it with its own 1's and 0's
to wipe out those on the tape. (I hardly believe you did not
know this!). So just how does this relate to a quantum computer?
First of all, quantum computers work with qubits, which simply
aren't the same as marks on a tape and cannot be assimulated to
them. Whoever said that a computer had to be able to solve the
halting problem in order to not be considered a Turing machine?

Second, you end up actually agreeing with me about the problem
of making a completely unattached set of symbolic statements
which could be interpreted in only one way. Besides, what about
"right" and "left"? If such a set of symbolic statements cannot
be made, then it is not enough for thinking that it be 
symbolic, and simulated creatures which basically are our own 
symbolic constructions cannot think or even be alive.

For Keith Henson:
Glad to see you on Cryonet again. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I've
never thought the machinations of religion serious enough to
be bothered by.

In any case, at issue in what you say is the question of whether
a change in our behavior requires a complete redesign of some
part of our brain, or simply a new set of conditions which never
existed before. The new set of conditions to which I refer when
I talk about changes in ideas and behavior is immortality --- or
at least vastly increased lifespan (not at all any humble 150 
years!). We are friends with those we think can benefit us,
enemies of those we think can harm us. But if in 500 years you
meet someone you knew as an enemy before, in different circumstances,
then you may well want him as a friend. This simple fact that
people will simply not go away so easily as now means that
we'll be kinder to them when we deal with them NOW. Not from
any mysterious psychological change, but because of the change
of perspective that immortality would bring. Who wants to be 
an enemy of someone you will need as a friend tomorrow?

And as you can guess, the very same change applies to future
events, too. No one now is worried by the asteroid that will
someday collide with the Earth and wipe out all unprotected
life forms. They aren't worried because even if that collision
will wipe everything out, they won't be around for it ---not
even their great great grandchildren will be around for it
(so they think). If you think that YOU will be right there
when the asteroid comes, it's a threat you will think about
seriously. Who is it who will do nothing if they knew that
a large airplane would crash on their house tomorrow, destroying
it and everyone inside?

So will our psychology, or our environment, be responsible 
for such a change?

            Best wishes and long long life for all,

                Thomas Donaldson

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