From: Kory Heath <>
Date: Sat, 17 Jan 2004 03:10:22 -0500

Hi Everyone -

I've recently subscribed to the Everything List, and have been browsing
through the archives. I have to confess that I find some of the discussion
there incomprehensible, but nevertheless it's exciting to find people who
take this very unusual idea seriously.

My background is in Computer Science. I've been reading people like Daniel
Dennett and Douglas Hofstadter for years, and I accept in general the
"computational", "algorithmic", or "functionalist" view of mind (though all
of these terms mean different things to different people). I'm intrigued by
the Computational Physics concepts expounded by Fredkin, Wolfram, et. al.,
but I don't understand Quantum Physics, so I really don't feel qualified to
judge the specifics.

Years ago I was struck with the thought that the Many Worlds Interpretation
of QM *seemed* to imply that I will never die. I never knew how seriously
to take this idea, since I couldn't even get a straight answer from my
physicist friends about what things were impossible in QM as opposed to
highly improbable. (Is it impossible in QM for an elephant to suddenly
materialize in my room? Or is it just highly improbable? I still don't know!)

Speculations about the implications of QM seemed less interesting to me
than questions like "Why is our physics true rather than some other
physics? Why does our universe have this property of "physical existence",
when other perfectly good universes (like Conway's Life) don't?" It seemed
to me that the most sensible answer to this question is that universes like
Conway's Life have just as much "physical existence" (whatever that means)
as our own.

Most of my thinking on these issues has been devoted to defending this
position philosophically - starting with some brand of mathematical or
computational realism, and then arguing that this ultimately implies
"mathematical physicalism". Much less of my thinking has been devoted to
working out the implications of this mathematical physicalism. It certainly
seems to imply that I will never die. However, I would say that in general
my current position on the implications of the AUH is quite a bit more
agnostic or skeptical than that of many of the people on this list.
Currently, I can't see how to apply the concept of "measure" to the
ensemble of universes (or the ensemble of
"my-next-possible-observer-moments", or whatever), and I'm not entirely
sure the idea even makes sense. I'm not even convinced that the regularity
we perceive in our own universe (i.e. the lack of "white talking rabbits")
is something that requires explaining. Perhaps I will come to view this as
a problem as I continue to think about it.

-- Kory
Received on Sat Jan 17 2004 - 03:12:03 PST

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