Re: Are we simulated by some massive computer?

From: Stephen Paul King <>
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2004 12:15:38 -0400

Dear Bruno,

    This touches on a main portion of my difficulty with the notion that a
Platonia based theory can be sufficient.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Bruno Marchal" <>
To: <>
Sent: Wednesday, April 28, 2004 11:12 AM
Subject: Re: Are we simulated by some massive computer?

> At 23:16 28/04/04 +1000, Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> >There is a single idea underlying much of the confusion in discussions of
> >personal identity: the belief in a soul.
> Indeed.


    This seems to be related to the "homunculus" problem:

"The homunculus problem is basically "Do we need a homunculus for
understanding imagery?" A homunculus is the idea of a little man in our
heads which sees the images (and words) we see and understands these
words and images for us."

    This, of course, implies an infinite regress of homunculi...

    But it seems that the same problem obtains if we replace the
anthropomorphic homunculus with a machine and ignore the limits placed by
quantum gravity (QC) on physical size.

> >I use this term for a quality or substance which resides in a person
> >throughout his life and is somehow responsible for his identity, and
> >(here is the problem) is not captured by a complete description of the
> >person's physical and psychological state. Often, it is a hidden
> That's a nice definition of the soul, quite similar to the provable
> of the "first person", once we will define it precisely (in the Thaetetus
> way). And comp will
> entails, *as a theorem*, the existence of the soul, then!


   Your idea, Bruno, is VERY interesting to me as it would completely
sidestep this problem (and other problems of QC such as the problem of time
and space) by making all notions of 1st person phenomena, which includes
everything related to physicality, QC included) reducible to modal logical
aspects of eternally existing relationships among eternally existing

   I struggle to find the right words to express the difficulty that I see.
My problem is that your work ignores the computational complexity
(NP-Completeness) of grading (defining measures) the relationships. Your
thesis seems to have the same problem as Julian Barbour's thesis.

    He assumes that we can ignore the requirement that a computation takes
at least a polynomial number of steps to perform a computation by appealing
to the priori existence of solution of the computation in Platonia.

    I do not see how the mere a priori existence of solutions (Integers) and
the relationships between them (also Integers), as a priori existing numbers
is sufficient.

> The comp reason why the soul or the first person is never captured by any
> complete third person description is akin to the reason truth and
knowledge are
> not arithmetizable (as opposed to provable and consistent).
> Godel's theorem & Co. makes universal machine a highly non trivial type of
> being.


    Does not this statement, that "truth and knowledge are not
arithmetizable", imply that the postulation of AR is insufficient? Let me
state this in a different way. How does Digital Substitution ( "yes,
Doctor" ) get coded into numbers without involving physical implementation?

Kindest regards,


> Bruno
Received on Wed Apr 28 2004 - 12:43:21 PDT

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