X-Message-Number: 26044
Date: Sun, 17 Apr 2005 23:12:42 -0400
From: Francois <>
Subject: For Thomas, about simutaneity

Just for the sake of argument, lets say you model a brain in software. All
relations in the model parallel the relations in a real physical brain. You
then program this model in a sequential, Turing type computer. The model
contains a well defined starting state and all the rules to modify that
state in time. Lets say we choose to advance the clock in steps of a
millionth of a second. The computer starts working, sequentially going
through all the parts of the model and applying to them the transformation
rules it is programmed with. It builds in its memory a second model of the
brain as it would be millionth of a second after the starting state. Once it
has completed the task, it takes this new model and repeats the procedure,
advancing it by a millionth of a second again, and again, and again.

From our point of view, we see a bunch of electrons in a cluster of memory
chips being moved around by the computer's CPU. It takes a certain amount of
real time for each stage to be completed, and that time depends on how fast
the CPU works. A commodore 64 would probably take millenia to complete a
single stage. Modern super computers could do it maybe in seconds. Really
fast computers could probably be made that would do it in "real" time,
advancing the simulation by a millionth of a second in 1 millionth of a
second in real time, and a really really fast computer could advance it
faster that real time. That doesn't matter really because the simulated
brain doesn't care about that. What it experiences is all of its "parts"
working and evolving simultaneously. Its subjective experience of timeflow
is the same as our own within its own virtual world.

It is obvious that simulated gasoline, even perfectly simulated gasoline,
cannot be used to fill the gas tank of my car, nor will I ever get sunburn
from a perfect computer simulation of the sun. But simulated gasoline can be
used to fill the simulated tank of a simulated car, and simulated UV photons
will damage simulated skin on a simulated person. It's all a question of
point of view. I've read somewhere a beautiful little aphorism that
perfectly sums it up. "In a virtual world, a virtual dog walking in virtual
rain really does get wet." From the point of view of your flesh and blood
brain, a perfectly simulated brain is still nothing but sequentially moving
electrons. From its point of view, assuming we provide it with an equally
well simulated world to live in, it experiences the same kind of life we do.
Its simulated sun feels warm on its simulated skin, the simulated food it
puts in its simulated mouth is as delicious and fullfilling as our own and
if it stubs its simulated toe on a simulated bedpost it feels real pain. All
a question of point of view.

Can we establish communication with it? Sure we can. All we need to do is
project in its world the digital output of a digital camera and microphone,
on the virtual screen of its virtual television for instance. That would
only require a little bit of very simple programming that is already done
routinely in many of today's videogames. We could talk to it and it could
talk to us. If the computer running it is fast enough we could even do it in
real time. Uploading is not only possible, it is one way of gaining the true
immortality we seek.

The Devil fears those who learn more
than those who pray

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