Re: Measure, madness, and Max

From: Gilles HENRI <>
Date: Mon, 25 Jan 1999 09:48:51 +0100

>I, Hal Finney, wrote:
>>I see identity in a larger sense. Consider the example proposed
>>by Jacques, where the universe is infinitely large, and there are an
>>infinite number of exact, perfect, indistinguishable copies of me spread
>>throughout the universe. (Each of those copies exists within a region
>>of space, billions of light years across, which is observationally
>>indistinguishable from our own.)
>Gilles HENRI, <>, replied:
>> I dislike this analogy. If there exist some part of the Universe "perfectly
>> indistinguishable" from another one, it means that this part has the same
>> surrounding, and by continuity that the Universe is in fact periodic, each
>> part having the same copy at the same distance. It is equivalent to say
>> that the topology of the Universe is closed (torus-like), and you can
>> assimilate it to a finite one.
>No, it doesn't mean this. We see only a finite-sized bubble of space.
>If the universe is infinite, there are an infinite number of such bubbles,
>each spatially separated from the others. Among this infinite number of
>bubbles will be all physically possible arrangements of matter, with each
>arrangment occuring an infinite number of times. In particular, the
>arrangement of matter we see around us will also be repeated an infinite
>number of times, as well as all variations on it.

This can be true only during a finite time for two given regions. If two
bubbles are identical up to some distance R, the differences in their
surroundings will produce different electromagnetic and gravitational
perturbations that will propagate to the centre in a time R/c. So while it
is true that at a given time they are an infinite number of identical
regions, it also true that this identity must cease for all pairs after a
given time. It is not justified to assimilate as identical two parts (or
beings) that share only temporarily the same history.
Furthermore an infinite deterministic universe is not equivalent to MWI. If
there are exact copies of yourself, they must by definition follow the same
history, so you cannot consider different evolutions of yourself. If
evolutions are different, it means that they are not copies of yourself.
>This is not periodicity, it is merely the repetition of a finite sequence
>within an infinite sequence, like finding the string "141" an infinite
>number of times among the digits of pi.

The equivalent is that the density of identical sequences decreases with
their length.

>How about if we have the computers also simulate an environment for the
>intelligence to interact with. There can be a whole simulated world,
>with other organisms, complex environments, dramatic variations in
>conditions, etc. The simulated world can be as complex and intricate
>as we desire. Can't intelligence exist in such a world?

I doubt that it is conceivable to simulate a whole Universe WITHIN this
Universe. The only logical possibility would be that we are ACTUALLY the
product of a computation in a larger, meta-Universe with computers much
larger than our own universe (But how were they built?). Of course you can
conceive simplest versions of a Universe with simpler organisms. This is
actually realized in any computation. The problem again is that we call
consciousness a property that MUST have (by definition) about the same
complexity as our own behavior, and we are adapted to the complexity of our
world, not of a simpler simulation (you can of course extend the definition
of intelligence to much simpler behaviors, but it won't help to understand

So for me an intelligent computer (in our world) must NOT include the
simulation of its own environment, to be considered as intelligent (the
brain itself does not !). It must be adapted to the external world, which
means also that two different intelligent computers must be considered as

À (At) 20:57 +0000 22/01/99, écrivait (wrote) :
>Gilles, I agree strongly that 'consciousness is not an objective
>property.... but a functionality' but you do not need i/os -
>interfaces with some external reality - because other mental
>objects can act on yet other mental objects. Budhist thinking
>about consciousness is helpful here, as is Liebnitz.

Well, I have more sympathy for budhism than for other religions, but I do
not take it without discussion!
I don't know what is a mental object without i/os. I don't know how to
think of something that I cannot relate to some perception in any way. For
me consciousness IS the capability of reactivating perceptions that we have
had from our interaction with the outer world, or our own body. "Mental
creation" is only a rearrangement or an extrapolation of these known


Received on Mon Jan 25 1999 - 00:53:08 PST

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