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Old 24th February 2012, 11:24 AM   #1681
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Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
Ok lets try another approach piggy.

Assume you have a simulation, with a simulated tornado and a simulated house. The simulation is always running.

One night a tech looks at the screen and sees that the house is still standing.

The next morning he checks, and somehow the house is now destroyed, and the tornado is gone.

What happened?
The computer calculated odds that an object had to be removed from the simulation.
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Old 24th February 2012, 11:25 AM   #1682
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
All physical systems can be described in terms of inputs, rule-based transformations, and outputs.

This includes brains and computers.
But not rocks or beach balls.
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Old 24th February 2012, 11:27 AM   #1683
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
The only "real" frame of reference we have -- the world of matter and energy.
Again, it depends on your frame of reference. If there's another universe, it's real for those who exist in it, but not for us. That we know that universe doesn't interact with ours in any way, shape or form, does not make it non-existent.

Quote:
There are no other frames of reference available besides the physical universe and our imaginations.
The simulation actually exists, though.
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Old 24th February 2012, 11:28 AM   #1684
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
Broadening them from what?
Broadening them to include everything. So I ask you:

What does a computer do, specifically, that sets it apart from a rock, ocean, star or diesel engine ?

Quote:
"Performing algorithms and calculations" is only meaningful if the computer is performing the calculations for someone.
So is "species" but animals and plants exist nonetheless.
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Old 24th February 2012, 11:29 AM   #1685
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
I was under the impression (apparently mistaken) that impulse -> beat, and that this was all the heart did. I don't remember my heart doing anything but beating at regular intervals.
Look a bit closer. Every cell in your heart is doing something. Every molecule in every cell is doing something. It's changing states all the time.

None of these different states are objectively more significant than any other. In order to make sense of what the heart does, we consider its action as beating at regular intervals. We can actually describe the behaviour of the heart as a single quantity - interval between beats. That doesn't mean that that description is a more accurate description of reality - it means that it's more useful for us.

Quote:
When I hit a rock with a hammer, the impact translates into smaller internal states as well, but saying a rock computers makes the word a bit useless.
Exactly. An objective description of computing is useless. A usable description of computing is subjective. It involves a person inputting data and receiving results. What a computer does by itself is meaningless.
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Old 24th February 2012, 11:30 AM   #1686
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
But not rocks or beach balls.
No, rocks and beach balls as well. It's not interesting or helpful to look at them that way*, but it's just as real.

*Unless you're a geologist, perhaps. Or a beach bum. It's subjective.
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Old 24th February 2012, 11:31 AM   #1687
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
The computer calculated odds that an object had to be removed from the simulation.
The computer ran through a series of numbers, some of which were sampled. Some not. The person interpreted the numbers and provided them with meaning.
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Old 24th February 2012, 12:09 PM   #1688
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Originally Posted by Modified View Post
What is changing from state to state in our universe?

The computer running the simulation that is our universe is changing from state to state.

The computer that runs the simulation of our universe is physically real.
1. If there were a "computer running the simulation that is our universe" it would not be "in our universe".

2. Our universe, including ourselves, cannot be a simulation because a simulation is a representation and requires an interpreter to match the actual thing (the media in which the representation is rendered) to what is being symbolically represented.

3. Our universe, however, could be in some sort of container on a lab shelf somewhere in a hyperverse.

Pretty simple stuff, really.
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Old 24th February 2012, 12:12 PM   #1689
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Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
How did they change?
Oh, this is going to be fun....

The components of the machine running the sim changed.

Again, no need to appeal to any mysterious other worlds.

The supposed "house" and "tornado" are all in the imagination of the observer, and the machine is in the real world. That's sufficient to account for every feature of the larger system.
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Old 24th February 2012, 12:14 PM   #1690
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Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
If what is happening in the computer does not exhibit any of the qualities of the real systems, then how could it be a simulation?
Better yet, if the behavior of the computer does exhibit qualities of the systems it simulates, then point them out.

That's a much easier and more direct way of dealing with that issue.

In what ways does a computer begin to behave like a river when we run sims of watersheds?

In what ways does a computer begin to behave like a disease when we run sims of epidemics?
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Old 24th February 2012, 12:17 PM   #1691
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Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
Is a paramecium's change of state useless and meaningless without interpretation by a person?


Gotcha
No, you don't got anybody.

The change in state of a paramecium is similar to the change in state of the computer running the sim -- that happens in reality.

Yet for a tornado simulation, there is no "change in the tornado" outside the imagination of the viewer of the simulation.

Contrast this with a weather box in which we can instigate actual tornadoes. Those real tornadoes do what all tornadoes do, with or without observation.
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Old 24th February 2012, 12:20 PM   #1692
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
No, you don't got anybody.

The change in state of a paramecium is similar to the change in state of the computer running the sim -- that happens in reality.

Yet for a tornado simulation, there is no "change in the tornado" outside the imagination of the viewer of the simulation.

Contrast this with a weather box in which we can instigate actual tornadoes. Those real tornadoes do what all tornadoes do, with or without observation.
The change of state in the computer is meaningful - just that it has nothing to do with tornados. It has to do with electricity, heat, some motion - and a human mind then finds the connections.
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Old 24th February 2012, 12:21 PM   #1693
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Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
Unless all actual instances can be fully reduced to nothing but rules.



Well, actually, it can. If physics is unable to determine that there is any actual material in the universe -- and it can't -- and instead all evidence points to the universe being nothing more than rules -- and it does -- then you are wrong and I am right.
No, you are quite wrong about that.

Not long ago, someone tried to play the "particles are strictly informational" card in a science thread and was quickly shot down.

The interactions indicate that there is indeed something there to be interacting... and we can describe various attributes of different kinds of particles which give us reason to call them different names... your philosophy is based on a misunderstanding of the implications of QM.

In short, the subatomic world does not need to be made of any kind of "material". And that fact, startling as it is to many folks, changes nothing about questions in our macro world, like "What causes consciousness?"
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Old 24th February 2012, 12:23 PM   #1694
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Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
Typically there isn't, I agree.

However, you are the only monist on the entire forum that seems to dispute the notion that an arbitrary granularity simulation of a society of people, down to the particle level, would contain actual conscious entities.

You. Are. The. Only. One.

I am not trying to argue from authority here. I am just hoping that the fact that so many smart people disagree with you when they agree with each other, and furthermore that they are all fairly level headed monists, will at least convince you to open your mind a little and think about it.
No, I'm not.

And even if the only others left on this thread were dead-ender "other worlders", that wouldn't be any support for the position.

If you want to claim that representations become real when sufficiently rich in detail, then please, explain the mechanism by which that happens.

Failing that, it's merely an assertion, and one contradictory to contemporary physics.
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Old 24th February 2012, 12:25 PM   #1695
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
But not rocks or beach balls.
Yes, rocks and beach balls.

Anything made up of atoms, in fact.
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Old 24th February 2012, 12:29 PM   #1696
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Again, it depends on your frame of reference. If there's another universe, it's real for those who exist in it, but not for us. That we know that universe doesn't interact with ours in any way, shape or form, does not make it non-existent.
True. There might be such worlds "inside" black holes, for instance.

But drawing a picture of a baby doesn't create a new "world" in which there is a baby. Ditto for any representation of a baby, no matter how detailed or dynamic.

Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
The simulation actually exists, though.
The machine exists. The simulation exists in the way a football game does... because we agree that this set of activities constitutes a simulation. The system being represented by the simulation, however, "exists" in the mind of the person reading the output of the machine, in the same way (and for the same reason) that the guy in the owl suit on the sidelines only represents an owl, and his representation causes no new worlds to exist which are inhabited by owls.
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Old 24th February 2012, 12:32 PM   #1697
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
The computer ran through a series of numbers, some of which were sampled. Some not. The person interpreted the numbers and provided them with meaning.
Technically, it didn't even do that, since "numbers" are a human abstraction based on what we agree the actual states "mean", based on some sort of display, the significance of which is also determined by human agreement.
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Old 24th February 2012, 12:38 PM   #1698
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
The change of state in the computer is meaningful - just that it has nothing to do with tornados. It has to do with electricity, heat, some motion - and a human mind then finds the connections.
Right. The computer is like the paramecium. Its changes are real-world changes. The connection with a tornado requires a perceiver with an imagination who knows what the symbols are supposed to mean (unless they're sufficiently human-friendly as to be universally intuitive).

You know, you and I could place a bet on the future behavior of a paramecium, and when we observe what actually happens, one of us will give bank notes to the other.

In that case, we have turned the behavior of the paramecium into an event which has symbolic meaning for us, but which has no effect on the qualities of the critter.

Similarly, we can understand simulations without needing to attribute the symbolic meaning of the output to the machine.
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Old 24th February 2012, 12:55 PM   #1699
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
No, I'm not.

And even if the only others left on this thread were dead-ender "other worlders", that wouldn't be any support for the position.

If you want to claim that representations become real when sufficiently rich in detail, then please, explain the mechanism by which that happens.

Failing that, it's merely an assertion, and one contradictory to contemporary physics.
But look at all the clever people who agree!

I did feel for a while that I was proposing a position that nobody else shared. It's now clear that I'm not alone. I've also found that there are serious commentators on the matter who share my misgivings about the supposed orthodoxy - which is only an orthodoxy among a small group of philosophers and programmers.
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Old 24th February 2012, 01:04 PM   #1700
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
Technically, it didn't even do that, since "numbers" are a human abstraction based on what we agree the actual states "mean", based on some sort of display, the significance of which is also determined by human agreement.
Exactly. Numbers, bits, registers, memory - these are just abstractions that we use to make sense of the physical object.

There's no harm in general conversation in using the word "number" to describe the physical state of part of the computer, provided that we understand that the mapping between the numbers on the computer and the abstract idea of number in our minds is an arbitrary one which we choose. The fact that it is possible to interpret the same "data" on the computer as having many different values shows how the idea of inherent number is clearly not applicable.

Much of the confusion on this topic is caused by language, where words like "number" are used with entirely different meanings, which if treated the same lead to mistaken conclusions.
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Old 24th February 2012, 01:22 PM   #1701
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Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
Yeah but do you know how particles are formed?

If so please tell us, it would be nobel-prize worthy stuff.
I thought there were no particles only their interactions.
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Old 24th February 2012, 01:24 PM   #1702
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
I was under the impression (apparently mistaken) that impulse -> beat, and that this was all the heart did. I don't remember my heart doing anything but beating at regular intervals.
It isn't that simple, but even if it was, what about the cells that make up the heart? And the organelles that make up them?

Biological life is centered around the ability to react to a wide set of environmental states with a smaller set of behaviors.

Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
When I hit a rock with a hammer, the impact translates into smaller internal states as well, but saying a rock computers makes the word a bit useless.
It depends on the rock.

If there are areas of low integrity, such that no matter where you hit the rock it always fractures along those zones and ends up in one of 3 possible states, then you have a switch.

If the rock fractures differently each time you hit it, then you don't.
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Old 24th February 2012, 01:24 PM   #1703
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Originally Posted by piggy
If you want to claim that representations become real when sufficiently rich in detail, then please, explain the mechanism by which that happens.
Normally I would rise to a strawman of this level, hopefully optimistic that you are genuinely misunderstanding my position instead of obtusely dissembling, but between your and westprog's posting styles, I doubt I'd get a word in edgewise. Allow me instead to merely assert that you are mistaken, and let you figure out exactly how for yourself.
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Old 24th February 2012, 01:29 PM   #1704
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
Oh, this is going to be fun....

The components of the machine running the sim changed.

Again, no need to appeal to any mysterious other worlds.

The supposed "house" and "tornado" are all in the imagination of the observer, and the machine is in the real world. That's sufficient to account for every feature of the larger system.
You don't get it.

I am not asking you "what" changed.

I am asking you to describe how the things that changed, changed.
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Old 24th February 2012, 01:47 PM   #1705
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
Better yet, if the behavior of the computer does exhibit qualities of the systems it simulates, then point them out.

That's a much easier and more direct way of dealing with that issue.

In what ways does a computer begin to behave like a river when we run sims of watersheds?

In what ways does a computer begin to behave like a disease when we run sims of epidemics?
The behavior of the set of particles in the computer is isomorphic to that of the particles in the watershed or epidemics.

Not subjectively. Objectively.

If I programmed such a simulation, and made it very accurate, and then killed myself and every other intelligence in the universe, the behavior of the simulation and the real watershed would continue with the same isomorphism until the end of time -- the transforms necessary to go from <simulation behavior> to <watershed behavior> would remain constant.

This is NOT what happens with a rock or a bowl of soup. If you can find a transform between a bowl of soup and a watershed, such that for one instant the soup is a simulation of the watershed, that transform is invalid in the next instant, and you would need to find another one. If all humans were removed, so that nobody was updating the transforms, the soup would rapidly cease to have any isomorphic relationship to the watershed at all. In other words, the behavior is not isomorphic. For behavior to be isomorphic the transforms can't vary from state to state.
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Old 24th February 2012, 01:51 PM   #1706
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
No, you don't got anybody.

The change in state of a paramecium is similar to the change in state of the computer running the sim -- that happens in reality.

Yet for a tornado simulation, there is no "change in the tornado" outside the imagination of the viewer of the simulation.

Contrast this with a weather box in which we can instigate actual tornadoes. Those real tornadoes do what all tornadoes do, with or without observation.
Look at what you just said.

You claim the change in the paramecium is similar to the change in the computer.

But westprog said the change in the computer has no meaning without a human to interpret it.

So are you now claiming that without a human around to interpret it, the change in a paramecium is meaningless -- to the paramecium ? I don't claim it has meaning to a human, since a human wouldn't be there. I claim it has meaning to the paramecium. Namely, the change probably allows it to continue doing whatever paramecia do. You don't think that is meaningful to the paramecium?

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Old 24th February 2012, 01:52 PM   #1707
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
No, you are quite wrong about that.

Not long ago, someone tried to play the "particles are strictly informational" card in a science thread and was quickly shot down.

The interactions indicate that there is indeed something there to be interacting... and we can describe various attributes of different kinds of particles which give us reason to call them different names... your philosophy is based on a misunderstanding of the implications of QM.

In short, the subatomic world does not need to be made of any kind of "material". And that fact, startling as it is to many folks, changes nothing about questions in our macro world, like "What causes consciousness?"
Um, that was exactly my point -- that the <something> that is there to be interacting could be merely data in a simulation that we are inhabiting.

Then you go on to confirm that the subatomic world doesn't need to be made out of any kind of "material." Yes, I agree. It could be made out of data in a simulation we are inhabiting.

Thanks.
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Old 24th February 2012, 01:54 PM   #1708
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
No, I'm not.
Um, yeah, you are.

Well, let me rephrase that -- there hasn't been a single monist in any of the threads I have participated in that shares your view.

So that makes you like 1/50. I guess that isn't a big sample size, but I wager it is still statistically significant.
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Old 24th February 2012, 02:00 PM   #1709
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Originally Posted by !Kaggen View Post
I thought there were no particles only their interactions.
We have had numerous models of how matter works, and I expect that we will have a lot more. None of these models have changed how the world actually is. We find out about particles by the way that they impinge on our consciousness, and we make up stories about them. Just like with the computer, or the brain.
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Old 24th February 2012, 02:23 PM   #1710
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
But look at all the clever people who agree!

I did feel for a while that I was proposing a position that nobody else shared. It's now clear that I'm not alone. I've also found that there are serious commentators on the matter who share my misgivings about the supposed orthodoxy - which is only an orthodoxy among a small group of philosophers and programmers.
Quite right... it's nothing close to orthodoxy among folks who actually study consciousness.

In fact, the team that is building a brain simulation down to the neuron level are quick to insist that the result will not be a working brain, but merely a representation of a brain.

According to RocketDodger, either they are wrong, or there is some "Pinocchio point" of representational accuracy at which the things being simulated do become real.

Of course, in RocketDodger's particle-level simulation, either his massive particles will be massless (which means they're not actual massive particles at all) or the simulation of any fairly large system of massive particles (a dump truck, for example) will cause the computer running the simulation to crash through the floor.
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Old 24th February 2012, 02:26 PM   #1711
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Originally Posted by Beelzebuddy View Post
Normally I would rise to a strawman of this level, hopefully optimistic that you are genuinely misunderstanding my position instead of obtusely dissembling, but between your and westprog's posting styles, I doubt I'd get a word in edgewise. Allow me instead to merely assert that you are mistaken, and let you figure out exactly how for yourself.
I can only respond to what you post. If you intend something other than what you type, I have no way to know.
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Old 24th February 2012, 02:35 PM   #1712
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Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
You don't get it.

I am not asking you "what" changed.

I am asking you to describe how the things that changed, changed.
Let's back this up:

RD: Assume you have a simulation, with a simulated tornado and a simulated house. The simulation is always running. One night a tech looks at the screen and sees that the house is still standing. The next morning he checks, and somehow the house is now destroyed, and the tornado is gone. What happened?

P: The symbols changed.

RD: How did they change?

P: The components of the machine running the sim changed.

So you see, I did answer your question. How did the symbols change? They changed when the components of the machine running the sim changed. As far as I know, that's the only way for it to happen.

Ok, so now you seem to want a description of how the states of computer components change.

May I ask you why?

The reason I'm curious is because it should be irrelevant.

Let's say I'm watching a Disney movie on film. The images change. How do they change? They change because of the action of the projector, not because some "world of the film" exists in which these beings actually live.

Now, we could drill down from there into how a projector works, but why?

All we need to know is whether or not we're dealing with a symbolic representation (like a film or a computer simulation) or a non-symbolic reproduction (like a baby or a new house).

Of course, if you believe that delving into the electro-physical activity of a computer is going to help your case, then by all means, explain yourself. It will be a lot quicker than trying to get me to make your case by playing a game of 20 questions.
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Old 24th February 2012, 02:40 PM   #1713
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Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
The behavior of the set of particles in the computer is isomorphic to that of the particles in the watershed or epidemics.

Not subjectively. Objectively.

If I programmed such a simulation, and made it very accurate, and then killed myself and every other intelligence in the universe, the behavior of the simulation and the real watershed would continue with the same isomorphism until the end of time -- the transforms necessary to go from <simulation behavior> to <watershed behavior> would remain constant.
To which the inevitable follow-up question is: "So what?"

Even if your simulation is accurate enough to perfectly track the behavior of the real-world watershed forever, this does not generate a Pinocchio point at which the simulated watershed it becomes real rather than symbolic.

It is still a symbolic representation.

Nor have you indicated in any way how the machine running the sim would take on any characteristics of a watershed as a result of performing the simulation.
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Old 24th February 2012, 02:45 PM   #1714
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Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
Look at what you just said.

You claim the change in the paramecium is similar to the change in the computer.

But westprog said the change in the computer has no meaning without a human to interpret it.
No, that's not what was said.

Changes in states in the computer have real-world effects. So do changes in states in the paramecium.

Changes in the state of a computer, or any machine or any real object, need no human to interpret them as changes in those objects. They exist independently.

In contrast, when a computer changes state so that the pattern of pixels on a screen in the shape of "120" changes to a pattern in the shape of "140", this requires a human observer who understands the symbol system to imagine "the tornado is increasing in wind speed" if it is to be anything more than a change in pixel patterns.

By comparison, Westprog and I could bet on what the paramecium will do next, and turn the critter into a kind of switch with an outcome of either me handing Westprog some bank notes, or him handing some to me. But all of that is based on activity in our imaginations... it has no effect on the paramecium.
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Old 24th February 2012, 02:49 PM   #1715
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Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
Um, that was exactly my point -- that the <something> that is there to be interacting could be merely data in a simulation that we are inhabiting.
Circular reasoning.

How do we know that simulated worlds could be real? Because our world could be a simulation! How do we know this? Because, after all, simulations could be real.

To say that our world "could be made of data" is, I submit, an empty statement, a mere string of words.
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Old 24th February 2012, 02:50 PM   #1716
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Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
Um, yeah, you are.

Well, let me rephrase that -- there hasn't been a single monist in any of the threads I have participated in that shares your view.

So that makes you like 1/50. I guess that isn't a big sample size, but I wager it is still statistically significant.
That's fine, but I don't give a rat's backside about "monism" or any of your philoboxes.

My argument stands on its own.
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Old 24th February 2012, 03:03 PM   #1717
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
I can only respond to what you post. If you intend something other than what you type, I have no way to know.
I have already typed what I intended, and intend what I typed. You are welcome to review my previous posts. The last one was several pages back.
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Old 24th February 2012, 03:05 PM   #1718
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
Let's say I'm watching a Disney movie on film. The images change. How do they change? They change because of the action of the projector, not because some "world of the film" exists in which these beings actually live.
The images you see change.

The images on the film do not.

How can you seriously think that is equivalent to what goes on inside a computer?
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Old 24th February 2012, 03:13 PM   #1719
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
To which the inevitable follow-up question is: "So what?"

Even if your simulation is accurate enough to perfectly track the behavior of the real-world watershed forever, this does not generate a Pinocchio point at which the simulated watershed it becomes real rather than symbolic.

It is still a symbolic representation.
No, it is not a symbolic representation.

Symbols reference something that is not themselves. The entities in the simulation do not reference things that are not themselves. Neither do the particles that make up the memory banks of the computer that is running the simulation. There is no symbolism anywhere, until a human interprets the results.

Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
Nor have you indicated in any way how the machine running the sim would take on any characteristics of a watershed as a result of performing the simulation.
Yes, I did:
Originally Posted by rocketdodger
The behavior of the set of particles in the computer is isomorphic to that of the particles in the watershed or epidemics.
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Old 24th February 2012, 03:16 PM   #1720
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Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
The images you see change.

The images on the film do not.

How can you seriously think that is equivalent to what goes on inside a computer?
They are equivalent in the way that matters for this discussion -- they are both symbolic representations.

For some reason, you think that the computer changing states somehow fundamentally alters the nature of the representation, so that the thing being symbolized now is, independent of observation.

In reality, of course, the only thing that is independently real is the computer.

But at least we know now what determines your Pinocchio point... the use of a computer!

Not that it makes any more sense, but at least your errors are becoming more comprehensible.
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