Re: Evidence for the simulation argument

From: Bruno Marchal <>
Date: Tue, 3 Apr 2007 17:37:25 +0200

Hi Mark,

Just a preliminary remark before I comment your post. Contrary to what
Russell says in his book, I am not at all a philosopher, I am not
trying to propose a view of the world or a conception of reality. As I
said in the joining post my initial goal was just to understand
molecular biology, or more precisely to understand the relation between
molecular biology and biochemistry. In that context I have eventually
discover Godel's proof, and through it I have guess an abstract
biology, not dependent upon any chemistry. But this was presupposing
some form of what later I called "comp" and I eventually realized that
if I could relate that abstract biology with "real biology" then, in
some deep global sense, it is (bio)chemistry which should obey to the
law of abstract biology (despite James D. Watson's slogan). So, it is
very early that I did understand that comp entails a reversal between
mind and matter, between physics and machine's number theoretical
bio-psycho-theo-logy. The rest in the effort to communicate that
*problem*: I mean, that if comp is true, then the physical science have
to be reduced to an abstract digital biology.

This is all what I say: if COMP is true, then the laws of physics are
not primary. Comp is really a precise version of what Peter called
standard computationalism. It is just a computer science update of
Descartes' Mechanism, the idea that we are, from a correct third person
point of view, machine (cf "yes doctor"). The fact that "matter" (as
substrate; not as appearances) disappears is just an unavoidable
consequence of comp. This I can, and I already have, explain on the
list in all details (just ask if you want we go through the UDA again).
I know we are wrong on this mind/body issue since more than 1500 years,
i.e. since the scientist, due to "political pression" abandoned
theology to the political authorities. The millenium before it is
plain that the intellectuals were aware that the mind/matter primacy
question was an OPEN problem. All what I show is that with comp, it is
still an open probIem. I think the Roman Church has some responsibility
in making many people taking for granted that matter is an independent
primary substrate making up our reality. It is a sort of "metaphysical
demagogy", given that we have been probably "programmed" by million of
years evolution to take our neighborhood for granted. Of course this
idea could be true of course, but then comp has to be false. For comp
being false you have to put in our body some infinite non computable
object, that is, something which cannot be emulated even by a quantum
computer. People are free trying to develop such theories, but those
who are serious until now have to make speculative move (like the
falsity of QM, for example). Actually people are free to take the
reversal result as an argument against comp, but then it is certainly
not a knock down, for the reason that computer science is full of
counter-intuitive results.

Indeed the second part of my work consists in interviewing a
(sufficiently chatty, lobian) universal machine, and the discovery is
that the machine introduced many subtle nuances on the
geometrical/physical difference corresponding to the difference between
necessary points of view (1-person, 3-person, 3-person plural,
computable, true, provable, etc.). Now, when you just define the
computationalist notion of matter, which, by the UDA, is given the
third person sharable measure on uncertainty on accessible UD states,
in the language of a lobian machine, you get a quantum logic which
confirms ( proves) comp, and thus does not (yet) refute it.

Le 02-avr.-07, 17:36, Mark Peaty a crit :

> Bruno:
>> With comp, what holds 'your lot" together are the relation between
>> numbers. The apparent third person infinite regression stops at the
>> level of those relations. The first person is most probably confronted
>> with many infinities, but this should not be considered as
>> problematical.
> MP: But what *relation* is there really?

I will say more in a post to John, but the relation are any one that
you can define with classical logic languages and addition and
multiplication. For example, the relation "x is little than y" , which
has the definition: Ez(x + z = y) (Ez = it exists a number z), or the
relation (x divides y) which has the definition Ez(x * z) = y. Godel
has shown you can define most computer science notion in arithmetic,
meaning by similar definition (involving only addition and
multiplication). His result show that we cannot unify completely
arithmetical truth, i.e. there is no theory capable of proving all true
arithmetical proposition.

> I just feel like this
> kind of discussion goes round and round in endless convolutions.

I don't think so at all. The list is just a bit pedagogical so many
explanations are repeated. I have no idea how many people really get
the whole UDA.

> Platonia is some kind of Never-never land; that numbers exist
> anywhere except inside human skulls and nowadays within
> phenotypic prostheses like electronic computers is NOT a proven
> fact, it is a glorious assumption!

Since I participate in this list, well, since I am working in this
field, I repeat ad nauseam that comp is an hypothesis, or if you
prefer, it is a glorious assumption.
QM too, like any scientific theory willing to bear on some "reality".
Science leads to beliefs, never to knowledge as such.

> I mean the big and unanswered question is WHERE are numbers?

Hmmm.... This question seems to me as senseless than the question "what
is the color of numbers?". Numbers are not the type of entity needing
to be somewhere, or to have color.
You are assuming a primitive physical and geometrical universe.
You are assuming, or defining "existence" by belonging physically in
the universe.

Obviously I don't make those assumptions. (worst: I show that you
cannot hold them together with the comp assumption).

Note that even with such physicalist assumption, you will be in pain to
tell me "WHERE is the universe" given that the notion of "where" makes
sense only IN the universe or multiverse).

> Mathematicians now seem to be very sophisticated with WHAT
> numbers could BE, and _do_ also apparently,

They are just realist. Once the relation "little than" or "divide" is
defined (see above) they recognize facts like 5 divides 10, 8 divides
24, seven is little than 8, ... but also "the machine number 56 proves
that 8 divides 24", etc.

> but very very big
> numbers which could represent everything significant about
> you, me, or the likelihood of a self referencing computer
> working out that it knows that it knows something really
> important, how can these 'relate'?

You are not enough clear so that I could try to explain from what I
figure out, I'm afraid this points on more technical matter.

> Surely they have to be
> related by someone or something else!

Why? "3 divides 9" is true independently of anything else. "Sophie
knows that 3 divides 9" depends on Sophie, sure, but if you make "truth
like "3 divides 9" depending on humans, then there is no hope to
understand even simple feature about humans. Most theories assumes
numbers at some level.

> I guess what I am saying
> is that numbers need something which is not numbers

Need something for what? Don't take litteraly the notion of numbers.
People complains when I get too much technical, but I do need indeed
more than just the numbers. I need also addition and multiplication. I
need classical logic too. (QM needs that too, of course).

> in which, or
> by means of which they can exist for each other.


> I call it
> 'existence', and use the name of Janus as my symbol or emblem of
> this. But I don't expect any such symbol or emblem to resolve
> the paradoxes of our existence and experience of existence.

Once you accept the comp hyp, then you can understand (by work!) that
numbers can explain our existence. But numbers cannot explain numbers,
and remains a true mystery. What is cute is that numbers can explain
why they have to be mysterious (and this independently of comp, for a

> As
> far as I can see, which admittedly is not very far, all
> explanations that purport to be *ultimate* explanations are
> doomed to a process of infinite recursion and regression.

You are quite correct if you ask an explanation of what are numbers.
Then comp + number explains quanta and qualia, and this in a non
normative way which expands our ignorance, on ourselves and on numbers.

> There was an Englishman called Kenneth Craik, who wrote a little
> book called 'The Nature of Explanation'. Unfortunately he died
> in his early thirties in a car accident in 1945 I think. I go
> along with his thesis - as I remember it from reading the book a
> decade or more ago - that the representational power of
> mathematics stems from its evolution of complex mathematical
> objects out of the interactions of simple elements, which can
> mirror many significant aspects of the physical/noumenal world
> because the latter seems to be manifesting a closely analogous
> evolution of aggregations of fundamental chemical elements,
> sub-atomic particles and so forth.

Are you able to imagine or conceive that physicalism is false? Craik
description (I have not read him) could be quite interesting and
locally true. But wih the comp hyp we have to explain chemical elements
from pure arithmetic. It is not a choice (or the UDA is wrong
somewhere, of course).

> For better or worse I must advocate what is hereabouts a virtual
> heresy: that people can never be reduced to numbers.

I would even say that "people" or "person" can never be reduced to
anything third person describable.

And I already told you that comp makes this necessary. If I 3-am a
machine, then I will never be a 1-machine. Put in another way: the
"canonical first person" linked to a machine is CORRECT when saying I
am not a machine. I know this is not simple to understand without some
technic (either directly through thought experiments, or through the
lobian distinctions between the person points of view).

I really believe that comp, well understood, is the most powerful
vaccine against person-reductionism ever discover until today.
Comp don't just kill "materialism". It kills even deeply (and before)
"materialist eliminativism". It reintroduces in a mathematical
transparent way, the unameable whole, and the unameable person.

> To be a
> person entails the experience of 'I' and 'thou', 'me' and 'you'.
> There can be no me without you and no 'us' without 'them'. If a
> modest Loebian machine cannot work this out, then it needs to go
> back to school.

Lobian machines not only does that, but the ideal self-referentially
correct one cannot not do that. Even without going to schools, those
machines are bound up to the discovery of the many points of view,
singular and plural.

> Perhaps it can though, [if all worlds are
> possible and must happen], maybe it is just a matter of time
> before one or more smart, introspective, self-sustaining
> processors/processes emerges from a BOINC type distributed
> system.

The lobian machine has already been interviewed. Now, perhaps we will
have to wait 1000 years more before the *humans* begin to be enough
smart or wise or *modest* to listen to her.

> My bet is that the Silico-Electric ONE [or two, ...]
> will coalesce around the control and accounting of money, money
> being the embodiment of negative entropy in the cultural world.


> For what it's worth I think that such a creature will realise
> that ethics is part of the foundation of its world:

They are many clues going in that direction.

> a
> fundamental tool for the maximising of 'negative entropy'.

OK. I guess you agree ethics is more than that.



Mark Peaty wrote:

> Bruno Marchal wrote:
>> Le 06-mars-07, 09:44, Mark Peaty a crit :
>>> Thank you Bruno!
>>> You and Russell between you have managed to strike some sparks of
>>> illumination from the rocky inside of my skull. There is no beacon
>>> fire
>>> to report but I start to get a glimmering of why you want to *assume*
>>> comp and see where it leads.
>>> It seems that self-reference and recursion are fundamental properties
>>> of
>>> anything that is "interesting" in all this, which rather seems to be
>>> the
>>> flavour of the new millennium.
>>> Just in thinking superficially about the Many Worlds though, it seems
>>> to
>>> pose a 'binding problem'. Now, I know that might sound like a leakage
>>> of
>>> concept from objections to identity theory in brain and mind theory.
>>> But
>>> what I am thinking about is this bit:
>>> 6) this means that if I take the comp hyp seriously, then, to predict
>>> the results of any experiment/experience, I have to "localize" all
>>> the
>>> infinitely many instantiations of my current state in the UD, look at
>>> the uncountable comp histories going through that states, and compute
>>> the statistics bearing on all consistent first person
>>> self-continuation.
>>> A human life must be a compilation of all these including the
>>> creation
>>> of internal [synaptic change, etc] structure/record which endow the
>>> ability to *be* the story. But when looking at this as a/n
>>> [infinity^infinity] Many Worlds affair, none of the worlds could
>>> 'know'
>>> that they are like or identical to others, surely? So I am puzzled.
>>> What
>>> holds 'my lot' together? We seem always to be confronted by yet
>>> another
>>> infinite regression.
>> With comp, what holds 'your lot" together are the relation between
>> numbers. The apparent third person infinite regression stops at the
>> level of those relations. The first person is most probably confronted
>> with many infinities, but this should not be considered as
>> problematical.
>>> ******
>>> A quick aside, hopefully not totally unrelated: Am I right that a
>>> valid
>>> explanation of the zero point energy is that it is impossible *in
>>> principle* to measure the state of something
>> Why can't we measure the state of something? Even with just QM, the
>> many-world idea has been invented for abandoning the idea that a
>> measurement pertubates what is observed.
>>> and therefore *we* must
>>> acknowledge the indeterminacy
>> We must acknowledge indeterminacy once we postulate comp, given that
>> it
>> makes us self-duplicable, and indeed self-duplicated "all the time".
>> Bruno
>>> and so must everything else which exists
>>> because we are nothing special, except we think we know we are here,
>>> and
>>> if we are bound by quantum indeterminacy, so is everything else
>>> [unless
>>> it can come up with a good excuse!]?
>>> [Perhaps this is more on Stathis's question to Russell: Is a real
>>> number
>>> an infinite process?]
>>> ******
>>> Regards
>>> Mark Peaty CDES
>>> Bruno Marchal wrote:
>>>> Le 05-mars-07, 15:03, Mark Peaty a crit :
>>>>> Nobody here has yet explained in plain-English why we have entropy.
>>>>> Oh
>>>>> well, surely, in the Many Worlds, that's just one of the universes
>>>>> that
>>>>> can happen!
>>>> Not really. That would make the comp hyp or the everything idea
>>>> trivial, and both the "everything hyp" and the "comp hyp" would
>>>> loose
>>>> any explicative power. (It *is* the problem with Schmidhuber's comp,
>>>> *and* with Tegmark's form of mathematicalism: see older posts for
>>>> that).
>>>>> Except that, for plain-English reasons stated above, there
>>>>> are *and always have been* infinity x infinity x infinity of
>>>>> entropic
>>>>> universes.
>>>>> It doesn't make sense. Call me a heretic if you like, but I will
>>>>> 'stick
>>>>> to my guns' here: If it can't be put into plain-English then it
>>>>> probably
>>>>> isn't true!
>>>> I will try. I will, by the same token, answer Mohsen question here:
>>>> Mohsen:
>>>>> I don't know if in the hypothesis of simulation, the conflict of
>>>>> Countable and Uncountable has been considered.
>>>> 1) I assume the comp hyp, if only for the sake of the reasoning. The
>>>> comp hyp is NOT the hypothesis of simulation, but it is the
>>>> hypothesis
>>>> that we are in principle self-simulable by a digital machine.
>>>> 2) Then we have to distinguish the first person points of view
>>>> (1-pov)
>>>> from third person points of view (3-pov), and eventually we will
>>>> have
>>>> to distinguish all Plotinus' hypostases. With comp, we are
>>>> duplicable.
>>>> I can be read and cut (copy) in Brussels, and be "pasted" in
>>>> Washington
>>>> and Moscow simultaneously. This gives a simple example where:
>>>> a) from the third point of view, there is no indeterminacy. An
>>>> external
>>>> (3-pov) observer can predict Bruno will be in Washington AND in
>>>> Moscow.
>>>> b) from a first person point of view, there is an indeterminacy, I
>>>> will
>>>> feel myself in washington OR in Moscow, not in the two places at
>>>> once.
>>>> 3) Whatever means I use to quantify the first person indeterminacy,
>>>> the
>>>> result will not depend on possible large delays between the
>>>> reconstitutions, nor of the virtual/material/purely-mathematical
>>>> character of the reconstitution.
>>>> 4) There exist a universal dovetailer (consequence of Church thesis,
>>>> but we could drop Church thesis and define comp in term of turing
>>>> machine instead).
>>>> 5) Never underestimate the dumbness of the universal dovetailer: not
>>>> only it generates all computational histories, but it generates them
>>>> all infinitely often, + all variations, + all "real" oracles (and
>>>> those
>>>> oracles are uncountable).
>>>> 6) this means that if I take the comp hyp seriously, then, to
>>>> predict
>>>> the results of any experiment/experience, I have to "localize" all
>>>> the
>>>> infinitely many instantiations of my current state in the UD, look
>>>> at
>>>> the uncountable comp histories going through that states, and
>>>> compute
>>>> the statistics bearing on all consistent first person
>>>> self-continuation.
>>>> 7) A naive reading of this leads to predict white rabbits (indeed
>>>> the
>>>> lewis Carroll one) and perhaps white noise, that is too much entropy
>>>> ... This leads to a cheap refutation of comp, ...
>>>> 8) ... except that the math shows this is a bit too cheap. Now if
>>>> comp
>>>> is correct, AND if the physical laws are (approximately) correct,
>>>> then
>>>> we have to extract the physical laws
>>>> a) without assuming the existence of a physical universe,
>>>> b) from the comp statistics.
>>>> My (more technical) result is that computer science and mathematical
>>>> logics gives already clues that indeed we can recover the physical
>>>> laws
>>>> from computer science, once we get the relevant description of the
>>>> different points of view.
>>>> In particular, for Mohsen's question, the conflict between countable
>>>> and uncountable appears to be an unavoidable conflict between first
>>>> and
>>>> third person points of view. The first person is bound up to
>>>> interact
>>>> with uncountable physical apparent reality.
>>>> But all self-referentially correct universal machine introspecting
>>>> herself can discover the unavoidability of that conflict, and
>>>> somehow
>>>> "meta-solve" it, indeed by distinguishing explicitly those points of
>>>> view again. When she does this, she discover a more subtle tension
>>>> between recursively countable and non recursively countable. This
>>>> tension is creative and can be proposed as a beginning of
>>>> explanation
>>>> of life and local neguentropy.
>>>> All this makes comp, and its related "theology" (theory of
>>>> everything
>>>> including persons, say), empirically testable: derive the
>>>> comp-physics
>>>> and compare with empirical nature.
>>>> Must go. Hope this helps, (see papers in my url for more, or just
>>>> ask)
>>>> Bruno
> >

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Received on Tue Apr 03 2007 - 11:37:41 PDT

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