Re: Is the universe computable?

From: Jesse Mazer <>
Date: Wed, 14 Jan 2004 22:18:27 -0500

Eugen Leitl wrote:
>David Barrett-Lennard wrote:
> > Here is a justification of why I think arithmetical realism is at least
> > very plausible...
>I'm all ears.
> > Let's suppose that a computer simulation can (in principle) exhibit
> > awareness. I don't know whether you dispute this hypothesis, but let's
> > assume it and see where it leads.
>With you so far. We already have simulated critters with behaviour, and
>awareness of their environment. Computational neuroscience even attempts to
>do it with a high degree of biological realism.
> > Let's suppose in fact that you Eugin, were able to watch a computer
> > simulation run, and on the screen you could see "people" laughing,
> > talking - perhaps even discussing ideas like whether *their* physical
> > existence needs to be postulated, or else they are merely part of a
> > platonic multiverse. A simulated person may stamp his fist on a
> > simulated coffee table and say "Surely this coffee table is real - how
> > could it possibly be numbers - I've never heard of anything so
>That wouldn't be abstract "numbers". You'd have a system with a state,
>along a trajectory. In your case, that system state is being rendered (in
>realtime, I presume) for external observers.

...but suppose we implement the same abstract program on several computers
of totally different construction, like a regular computer using electronic
impulses vs. a quantum computer or a gigantic babbage machine that uses only
rotating gears. For the critters inside the simulation, wouldn't all these
cases appear subjectively identical to them? If so, it seems the only common
denominator is that all the computers were doing the same abstract
computation, the physical details are apparently irrelevant in determining
the experience of the simulated beings. Doesn't this lend intuitive support
to the Platonic view that our own physical universe is itself just a
particular abstract computation? Isn't your own belief that there is
something more to our own universe, something more "physical" I guess,
nothing more than faith in a certain metaphysical view of reality, with no
more evidence (and considerably less parsimony, IMO) to justify it than the
Platonic view?

Jesse Mazer

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Received on Wed Jan 14 2004 - 22:20:02 PST

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