X-Message-Number: 26059
Date: Wed, 20 Apr 2005 08:45:43 -0400
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: For RBR, Crevier, even Ettinger

For RBR:

If I understand what you and Crevier are saying, I'll have to say that
your arguments against Crevier (and Bob Ettinger's arguments, too) are
just a little off base. I do not agree with Crevier, but if we're going
to discuss these questions it would help if we all agreed on just what
we're discussing.

There are several different kinds of simulation. One kind involves
the simulation of the working of a brain, when that system is set
free to survive (or not survive) in the real world. Clearly making
such a simulation would be very difficult. Even real people with 
real brains sometimes have trouble surviving in the real world. We
call it a simulation not because it responds to simulated stimuli,
but because it acts like a raal brain. Forgetting the considerable
problems in making such a device, to the degree that it really does
act like a real brain it's at least reasonable to think that it
may even have self-awareness.

Then there is a second kind, in which we have a simulated brain 
acting in a simulated world. We know that both the simulated world
and the simulated brain consist of programs in one or more (parallel)
computers. Here we have something which cannot be considered anything
like a real person in a real world, not because it could not be built
by an all-seeing person with infinite resources, but because any 
simulated person in a simulated world made by US, even the far future,
will fail to match any real world, or for that matter any  real 
person. Our resources just aren't enough to make anything which is
not a falsehood. In fact, to simulate all of reality we'd need to use
all of reality out to the farthest galaxies. (This possibility 
reminds me of a very short story by Borges: once there was a country
where the people wanted an exact and precise map of their country.
Their maps grew larger and larger as they tried to make their map
tell everything about their country --- until one day it covered
the entire country, the economy failed, government collapsed, and
survivors fled elsewhere, leaving a bare land with scraps of paper
to show for their effort).

I believe that Crevier did not mean to present his simulated person
in a simulated world as a real possibility. He did so as part of 
his discussion of my comments on whether or not time-sharing would
ever give us a practical brain. This bears on time-sharing because
in that simulated world, events need not occur simultaneously as
seen by anyone watching outside.

I hope that I have accurately summarized the intentions of those
participating in this discussion. If you don't think so, then please
explain yourself.

             Best wishes and long long life for all,

                     Thomas Donaldson

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