Re: Fwd: Implementation/Relativity

From: Russell Standish <>
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 1999 14:25:29 +1000 (EST)

> Russell Standish <>:
> > Anthropomorphism may be common, but this doesn't mean it is correct,
> > nor useful.
> It is very useful in making sense of fiction (anthropomorphising words
> on paper, pictures on film, etc.), therapeutic in communicating with a
> diary or a teddy bear.

I think most people still realise its fictional and don't take it too
seriously. Those that do have the habit of becoming insane, or at
least being committed for such.

 It is ecologically beneficial when applied to
> trees and animals, as was done by native Americans.

Australian Aborigines had similar sorts of beliefs also. Maybe it
mitigated some of the environmental effects they had, but not others
(eg changing the nature of the vegetation, extinction of the megafauna
and so on). I don't know much about the environmental effects of

Besides, one can obtain beneficial environmental effect through
understanding the system also.

It is
> historically beneficial when applied to structures and artifacts.

When those structures and artifacts are created by human societies,
particularly ones that may have held animistic beliefs. However, it
must always be tempered with caution, as many an archaeologist has
come unstuck attributing modern attitudes and beliefs on ancient societies.

> benefits industrial progress when it is applied to machines, as often
> in Japan, making them a cherished part of the family rather than a
> threatening soulless force.

That may be, although I've never heard this explanation before.

> And I've argued hard that it is an interpretation, as correct as any
> other.
> >> Western stinginess in attributing minds, on the other
> >> hand, is becoming a Luddite-rousing impediment to progress.
> >>
> > How so?
> About half the press advanced robots get here plays up the
> Frankenstein analogy. I encounter it a lot because of my books. It's
> even worse in Germany.

I haven't noticed this much here in Australia. It could be that it is
because we don't have many industrial robots, and the robots we do
have tend to be research machines - more objects of curiosity and
fascination. Industrial robots could be threatening because of fear of
loss of employment.

On the other hand, we've just started inheriting the hysteria over
genetically engineered food that Europe has had for the last decade.

 Asimov noted the reaction, and in his robot
> books laws are passed keeping robots out of many occupations, as well
> as the famous three laws to keep robots in their place. It is a
> subliminal bias that allows only human beings have real souls, and
> fears anything else that acts like a human but is different as a
> soulless inhuman menace.
> Japan's Buddhist and Shinto traditions routinely assign souls to all
> kinds
> of objects, animal, vegetable, mineral, geographic, architectural and
> mechanical, and granting them to robots was natural. There is no
> Frankenstein complex in Japan, and despite its smaller economy, Japan
> uses over half the robots in the world.

This is all a long way from Tegmarks picture of mathematically
consistent systems that contain SASes. Just because a piece of fiction
(idealised as a bitstring say) exists in our world, does not imply
that it is such a mathematical system containing a SAS. It is merely
an object in our world.

The converse question one could ask is whether a mathematical system
with a SAS could be embedded in our world. Our world is highly
compressible in the Kolmogorov sense. Therefore it should be possible
encode our universe as a bitstring within our universe, at least that
part of the universe which is necessary for conscious beings to exist,
even if some contingency is left out. However, one would expect that
our world should have minimal information requirements, so don't
expect there to be much simpler such systems. In order to find out
whether such encoding does encode for a SAS, presumably one would need
to unfold the system, and that unfolding would require as much if not
more resources than our universe contains.

Dr. Russell Standish Director
High Performance Computing Support Unit,
University of NSW Phone 9385 6967
Sydney 2052 Fax 9385 6965
Room 2075, Red Centre
Received on Wed Jul 28 1999 - 21:29:56 PDT

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