Re: The Game of Life

From: Jerry Clark <>
Date: Fri, 17 Dec 1999 12:16:14 +0000

David Lloyd-Jones wrote:

> Hal Finney writes:
> > It has been found that "Life is Universal", meaning that you can
> > construct a Universal Turing Machine out of the Life rules. It would
> > then be possible to program it to simulate any mathematical or logical
> > system, hence SAS's should be possible.
> But only if the outside world supplies the necessaries. I don't insist on
> John Horton Conway, or even Hal Finney, but I do insist that the machine be
> plugged into the wall.

Are you arguing that a program has to be run before SAS's embodied in that
program experience consciousness?

I totally disagree with this approach, which some people
(confusingly), don't they? Let's take an example: populate an infinite 'Life'
grid with zeroes and
ones using your favourite transcendental number. let's use pi for
definiteness, and
use a square spiral to map the digits of pi to the plane. Now set the Life
running on this formation and see what develops. Received opinion is that
will emerge eventually and populate obscure corners of this totally
universe. Let U_t be the entire state at time t so that U_t maps Z X Z to

Let U = {U_0, U_1, ...}

Now let's not get caught up in the argument over whether or not SAS's will
in U. Let's just say they do. Now these SAS's presumably have conversations
consciousness and what it feels like, and swear blind that they are conscious
in spite of the fact that they are mistaken about this fact until somebody
manifests U by running it on a computer. At that point in time they become
about being conscious even though they are <i>exactly the same as they were

This idea that "the program has to be run before the consciousness is felt" is
embarrassingly obvious error. There is even embodied in it an infinite regress
would make Descartes blush: Who manifests the manifestors? Can manifestors
each other? It's a bit like believing in zombies...

> It's really a pissoff to see people writing about these patterns being
> "self-organizing." They're organized by the throughput from the power
> company.

> -dlj.

Received on Fri Dec 17 1999 - 03:13:41 PST

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