Re: the one universe

From: Hal Finney <>
Date: Thu, 16 Apr 1998 09:39:40 -0700

I've never been comfortable with the notion that all you know about the
universe is that there exists at least one person (or system?) with mind
state M. It seems that we should also be able to assume a series of mind
states, ordered sequentially in time. Our sense of consciousness has this
property of flowing and changing.

It seems that to say that all you know is that one state exists you must
accept that this sense of flow could be an illusion. Our minds might
actually only exist for one instant, and all our memories of the past
could have been created along with the rest of the mind in that instant.
That would seem to be how the counting universe works, if I understand

I don't think my experiences of time are consistent with the possibility
that my brain only exists for an instant. I keep stumbling over the
question of which instant is real. Is it the instant "now"? If so,
then why am I still thinking? I should have stopped at that instant.
Well, perhaps then it is the instant "now"? No, I am still thinking,
so that wasn't it. Perhaps it is some instant in the future? Then all
my sense of being conscious now is an illusion, in which case I'm not
sure I can assume that I will ever exist.

Now, presumably the counting universe can produce a sequence of mind
states, if the output is properly interpreted. You would have to take
one output number of the counting program and re-interpret it as a
sequence of moments. But if you do this, the counting program becomes
in effect a generator of all universes. So saying that "the universe"
is the counting program is just another way of saying that the universe
is one of all universes, because the counting program generates all
possible universes.

Received on Thu Apr 16 1998 - 09:43:54 PDT

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