Re: Quantum accident survivor

From: Hal Finney <>
Date: Mon, 3 Nov 2003 18:10:56 -0800

Stephen Paul King, <>, writes:
> My problem is that COMP requires the existence of an infinite
> computational system that is immune from the laws of thermodynamics. That
> makes it HIGHLY suspect in my book.

First, I'm not sure that Bruno's COMP hypothesis (which is basically
that minds can't tell what is computing them) does require this, but
arguably the hypothesis that our entire universe is a computer program,
and that all such programs and all such universes exist, requires some
such assumption. But is this any more problematic than the conventional
view that there exists an infinitely reliable set of mathematical
equations that specify the "laws of nature"?

> Even if we make the "leap of faith" and
> assume that all that exists is numbers and the relations among them, how do
> we explain the reason that the "illusion" of a "flow of time" occurs?

That's a good question, and I would suggest two answers. The first is
that when we apply the anthropic principle and look for universes that
contain observers, we are implicitly assuming that observers require a
flow of time. It is almost impossible to conceive of an observer that
would be timeless, and if such a thing existed, we would not recognize
it as an observer. But if we do accept that in some sense timeless
observers could exist, then no doubt they do exist, in universes that
may not have anything like a flow of time.

The second answer is that it may be that the simplest set of laws
that allows for observers like ourselves to exist inherently requires
something like time to exist as well. We are complex, and we know that
in our universe, we were the result of the process of evolution starting
with simple chemistry and building up complex biology. To get our level
of complexity you either need a complex universe, which implies a large
and improbable program, or you need a simple universe with a flow of
time sufficient to let something like evolution operate. Therefore it
is more likely that systems complex enough to be called observers will
exist in universes where there is causality, consistency and evolution.

Received on Mon Nov 03 2003 - 21:15:27 PST

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