X-Message-Number: 26056
Date: Tue, 19 Apr 2005 06:05:21 -0700
Subject: A Word or Two...
From: <>

I just have to take a break from retirement to comment on the 
current round of absurdity spouted by the patternists---this 
particular example courtesey of Francois, longtime supporter of the 

Francois wrote:


"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."

Proof by assertion, a staple of the patternist diet.

I can create a device to detect changes in light intensity. I can 
also create a device that some may *interpret* to detect changes in 
light intensity (because of its visual appearance or behavior), but 
that does not, in fact, detect changes in light intensity. Such a 
thing can be called a simulation of a light intensity change 

In a similar fashion, I am a device that detects experience 
(subjective experience). In the future, it may be possible to 
create a device that Francois may *interpret* to detect experience, 
but that does not actually detect experience. Such a thing can be 
called a simulation of an experience detector.

A simulation of something, is not that thing, nor can it be 
magically imbued to share all the properties of that thing, merely 
by virtue of the fact that it is a simulation of it.


"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.'"

This perfectly sums up the silly mind games you play with yourself, 
not reality. Don't confuse your mind games with reality.

A virtual dog doesn't exist, neither does virtual rain, so in 
particular a virtual dog can't walk and it certainly can't get wet 
in virtual rain. Take a look at your 'virtual reality simulator'. 
Look close with a magnifying glass or with an electron microscope. 
What do you see? You don't see a dog getting wet, do you? No, not 
at all! You see transistors. Little blobs of doped silicon and 
metal substrate. If you look very closely, you will see electrons 
moving around, altering the electrical state of these transistors. 

This is what really exists. The transistors, they exist, and so 
does the computer itself that is housing them. The electrons, they 
too exist, and the changes they cause in the transistors are a 
real, measurable phenomenon. This is the sum total of the reality 
of the computer.

There are no dogs, no rain, no walking dogs getting wet. Just 
transistors. That's all.

Now you may look at those transistors, and claim that your neural 
network identifies a pattern of changing transistor states that 
causes you to label this pattern a walking dog. But this is not a 
statement about the transistors. It is a statement about your mind. 
All the while, the transistors remain what they are: transistors. 
Your interpretation does not change reality.

I can look at a cloud and see a dog. This doesn't mean that a dog 
exists in the cloud and that it has a subjective inner life (a 
property of real-life dogs). It just means neurons in my head fire 
in a way that reminds me of a dog when I look at the cloud. 

I have remarked previously that it is possible to choose an 
interpretive scheme such that the atoms in a rock encode a brain 
program. Well, I can go one step further than that. By appropriate 
choice of interpretive scheme, it is possible to interpret the 
thermal and quantum mechanical fluctuations of the atoms in the 
rock as both (1) a description of changes to the interpretive 
scheme, and (2) as the execution of the brain program with time, 
under the constantly changing interpretive scheme. What this means 
is that a rock can encode not just a brain program, but the 
execution of the brain program itself.

So just as you might choose to interpret some transistors in a 
computer to be a walking dog getting wet, I can choose to interpret 
a rock as being a completely realized simulation of you. In fact, 
choose a large enough rock (or a complicated enough interpretive 
scheme), and I can choose to interpret it as a simulation of you 
within a virtual world.

Now if you think that will do you a bit of good when you die and 
decompose, than you're as terminally deluded as most other 

And before you reply Mike Perry, I know exactly what you're going 
to say: you, in your all-knowing wisdom, have declared only some 
interpretive schemes are 'valid' and 'recognized' by the universe, 
while others are 'invalid' and 'not recognized'. This position is 
at the fringe and you cannot justify it; the mere fact you have to 
invoke such extreme metaphysics should be a clue that your system 
is built on an unstable foundation.


"Uploading is not only possible, it is one way of gaining the true 
immortality we seek."

If uploading is valid, then you don't need to worry about 
immortality. You're already alive and well, living in a virtual 
world, all within the confines of my toilet. Hope you're enjoying 
your virtual life.

Richard B. Riddick

Rate This Message: http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/rate.cgi?msg=26056