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Old 24th February 2012, 03:17 PM   #1721
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
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.
That has nothing to do with anything.

The question was whether the changes in the paramecium have meaning to the paramecium.

Do they?
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Old 24th February 2012, 03:17 PM   #1722
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Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
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.
There are no such "entities".

There is only the machine, doing what machines do.

It's the output of the machine which is a symbolic representation. And only by interpreting those symbols is it possible to imagine any "entities".

ETA: If these "entities" are real, and not imaginary, then why doesn't your computer get heavier when you simulate a dump truck?
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Old 24th February 2012, 03:19 PM   #1723
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Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
That has nothing to do with anything.

The question was whether the changes in the paramecium have meaning to the paramecium.

Do they?
No, that wasn't the question, but if you want to ask it, I doubt anything has meaning to a paramecium.
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Old 24th February 2012, 03:20 PM   #1724
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
They are equivalent in the way that matters for this discussion -- they are both symbolic representations.
If you honestly think that a roll of film sitting in a warehouse is equivalent to a computer program, then we are at an impasse.

I don't know where to go from there.
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Old 24th February 2012, 03:21 PM   #1725
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Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
Yes, I did:

The behavior of the set of particles in the computer is isomorphic to that of the particles in the watershed or epidemics.
This does not make the machine any more like a river than it was before.

Now, if the particles in the machine actually behaved like a watershed, it would no longer be a machine capable of running simulations... it would actually be a watershed.
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Old 24th February 2012, 03:22 PM   #1726
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Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
If you honestly think that a roll of film sitting in a warehouse is equivalent to a computer program, then we are at an impasse.
Then we're not at an impasse, because I think no such thing.
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Old 24th February 2012, 03:24 PM   #1727
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
This does not make the machine any more like a river than it was before.

Now, if the particles in the machine actually behaved like a watershed, it would no longer be a machine capable of running simulations... it would actually be a watershed.
Yeah, we are done here.

If you don't think isomorphic behavior is of any importance then there isn't anything I can say to further this discussion from your perspective. Sorry.
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Old 24th February 2012, 03:25 PM   #1728
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
Then we're not at an impasse, because I think no such thing.
Then why did you say it?

Originally Posted by piggy
They are equivalent in the way that matters for this discussion -- they are both symbolic representations.
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Old 24th February 2012, 03:26 PM   #1729
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
No, that wasn't the question, but if you want to ask it, I doubt anything has meaning to a paramecium.
So they just sit there like rocks, eh?
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Old 24th February 2012, 03:28 PM   #1730
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
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.
If a particle-level simulation of our universe existed, the simulated Piggy would make exactly the same arguments that you're making. Entities within the simulation can interpret their own environment; no external observer is required. No "actual thing" is required either. Perhaps "simulation" is not the right word if our universe is running in software on a machine in some universe for which ours is not a representation.
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Old 24th February 2012, 03:50 PM   #1731
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So:

Simulations are real; they have to be, because that's what makes it meaningful to say you have a simulation running at all, versus that you don't.

Simulated entities are real; that's what makes it meaningful to say you are simulating them at all versus that you aren't. And the entities' interactions must be real; that's what makes it meaningful to say your simulation is running versus not running.

If anyone disagrees with any of these points, kindly tell me what it means for me to claim I'm running a simulation--right down to a criteria by which you can judge that I'm lying about it.

Now, simulated entities do differ from their counterparts, at the very least in how they interact (also by definition; if I "simulate" a robot by building one, I didn't actually simulate it--I just built it). Nobody to my knowledge is claiming otherwise.

However, I do disagree with the notion that running a simulation creates another world. It does no such thing. It simply uses the existing world to make a controlled mapping, exploiting the real regularity of real counterparts to achieve a real outcome.

And along these lines, can we drop the silly invented term "objective reality" already? It's just called "reality"; tagging that adjective on is worse than redundant--it's a misnomer.
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Old 24th February 2012, 03:52 PM   #1732
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
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.
Surely you must accept that if we could increase the frame rate and the accuracy of the pictures to arbitrary precision we would eventually reach a point where the simulation would be as real as the thing it depicts?
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Old 24th February 2012, 04:10 PM   #1733
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
There are no such "entities".

There is only the machine, doing what machines do.

It's the output of the machine which is a symbolic representation. And only by interpreting those symbols is it possible to imagine any "entities".

ETA: If these "entities" are real, and not imaginary, then why doesn't your computer get heavier when you simulate a dump truck?
The meaning of the symbols is always something external to the program. For every possible meaning of the symbols, the simulation has a different meaning. External to the simulation, only one interpretation is valid. One number is wind speed, another direction, say. Within the program, no one value is preferable to any other. All the possible simulations are taking place at once, and if one is real, they all are. They reference every quantity that ever existed, or didn't exist.
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Old 24th February 2012, 04:23 PM   #1734
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
The meaning of the symbols is always something external to the program. For every possible meaning of the symbols, the simulation has a different meaning. External to the simulation, only one interpretation is valid. One number is wind speed, another direction, say. Within the program, no one value is preferable to any other. All the possible simulations are taking place at once, and if one is real, they all are. They reference every quantity that ever existed, or didn't exist.
Or in other words, if the particle-level simulation of our universe created a twin universe which has some sort of existence independent of our perception / imagination, it would also necessarily create an incomparably vast number of other universes simultaneously.

But these guys may not perceive that, because they've chosen to simplify their world by removing semantics and settling for syntax alone.
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Old 24th February 2012, 04:30 PM   #1735
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
Or in other words, if the particle-level simulation of our universe created a twin universe which has some sort of existence independent of our perception / imagination, it would also necessarily create an incomparably vast number of other universes simultaneously.

But these guys may not perceive that, because they've chosen to simplify their world by removing semantics and settling for syntax alone.
There's an assumption that the simulation will "know" the values of the symbols it is manipulating, even though they are not defined within the simulation. Even though the only way to define the symbols is in terms of other undefined symbols.
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Old 24th February 2012, 04:36 PM   #1736
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Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
Yeah, we are done here.

If you don't think isomorphic behavior is of any importance then there isn't anything I can say to further this discussion from your perspective. Sorry.
Never said it's of no importance. Just that it doesn't support your argument.

What I'm saying is that we can describe the entire system of the universe, the machine, the simulation, the programmer, and the observer with no reference to any world other than the physical world which contains the machine and the imaginary world in the minds of the programmer and observer.

Isomorphic behavior is necessary to create the simulation. How else are you going to get it?

But you have offered no explanation for how it also demands that we assign any -- any -- sort of reality to a "world of the simulation" apart from the physical universe and the mind of the observer.

The isomorphic behavior does not cause the objects engaging in those mapped behaviors to be identical to one another (unless one object is a physical replica of the other) nor does it create a 3rd object.

The entire system can be understood without any claims to the "world of the simulation" being "real", so why fold in the unnecessary bit?
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Old 24th February 2012, 04:39 PM   #1737
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Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
So they just sit there like rocks, eh?
You've been looking at a kind of paramecium I'm not familiar with.

That's true whether you think they "sit there like rocks" (in which case I wouldn't have made my bet with Westprog on the thing's next move) or that anything "has meaning" or "is meaningful" to them.
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Old 24th February 2012, 04:44 PM   #1738
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Originally Posted by Modified View Post
If a particle-level simulation of our universe existed, the simulated Piggy would make exactly the same arguments that you're making. Entities within the simulation can interpret their own environment; no external observer is required. No "actual thing" is required either. Perhaps "simulation" is not the right word if our universe is running in software on a machine in some universe for which ours is not a representation.
If a particle-level reproduction of our universe existed, the reproduction Piggy would make exactly the same arguments that I'm making.

But as far as simulations, let's begin with what we agree on, and draw conclusions from that.

How can we succinctly describe the object that will run this simulation, and the kinds of things it will be doing in physical terms? What is it, and what's it doing?

(That's not a leading question, btw, I think you'll have a superior answer to any I would come up with.)
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Old 24th February 2012, 05:12 PM   #1739
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post

But you have offered no explanation for how it also demands that we assign any -- any -- sort of reality to a "world of the simulation" apart from the physical universe and the mind of the observer.
Because you just hinted that you consider the mind of the observer a reality, when actually it is a simulation of reality.

So why not just call all simulations real?

If you want to agree to call nothing real except reality, meaning what is in our minds is not real but merely a simulation of reality, then fine, we can do that.

Are you willing to do that?

Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
The isomorphic behavior does not cause the objects engaging in those mapped behaviors to be identical to one another (unless one object is a physical replica of the other) nor does it create a 3rd object.
I agree.

However I don't think behaviors need to be identical for things like consciousness to emerge, which is rather the point. I think behaviors need to be merely isomorphic for things like consciousness to emerge.

Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
The entire system can be understood without any claims to the "world of the simulation" being "real", so why fold in the unnecessary bit?
Because you continually use the general statement "but the things in the simulation are not real" to forward your arguments.

If you hadn't brought it up, we wouldn't be in this mess.
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Old 24th February 2012, 05:19 PM   #1740
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Originally Posted by yy2bggggs View Post
However, I do disagree with the notion that running a simulation creates another world. It does no such thing.
There isn't a formal definition of world that allows you to make such a statement.

Most laypeople would agree that there is a "world" of harry potter, and a "world" of warcraft, and a "world" of any other fiction that has been created by the minds of humans.

In fact I can point out dozens of code objects whose class names actually contain the term "world" in all of the game engines I have worked in.

That being said, if you want to formally define world such that there is only ever one, then be my guest. I would stop using the term if you do, though, because I think it would then have zero utility in normal communication.
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Old 24th February 2012, 05:55 PM   #1741
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
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.
Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
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.





I think the problem with all this "could", "may be", and "possibly" is that most of the people who are hypothesizing that "simulation=reality" have either never built a simulation or a computer or neither.

If one actually builds a computer from scratch....I do not mean assemble one.... I mean actually make a processor from scratch using FPGAs or actual transistors and all the memory and other peripherals needed.... then one might get an appreciation for how unlikely that it would ever become conscious regardless of the sophistication of the simulation software it is running.

The fact that a computer needs software is PRECISELY why it is not ever going to be a brain. Brains DO NOT RUN SOFTWARE.

In my opinion the only thing that we might build that has any chance of approaching a brain is an actual brain-like mechanism like Neural Networks. And I do not mean a SIMULATED NN.... I mean an actual one with OpAmps and actual neural connections.....and even then it would have to have a certain CRITICAL MASS of connections and nodes.

I personally think that consciousness is an EMERGENT PROPERTY of A CRITICAL MASS of COMPLEXITY..... much like the individual cells in a body ALONE would not be able to crawl out of a primordial pool but as they COALESCED they created a SYNERGY where the whole is greater than the sum.

The reason brains do more than just input and output is an EMERGENT PROPERTY OF THE CRITICAL MASS of brain matter and activity. The brain can be its own SIDE-EFFECT INPUTS that are not actually inputs from anything real except that they are a result of INTRA-CEREBRAL activity.

In other words, because of the brain’s bundling it has become its own “universe” where echoes of PAST EXTERNAL inputs may reverberate and rebound and regenerate and be maintained and these become side-effect inputs to other systems within the brain. The same for brain outputs…. they too can be side-tracked and become UNINTENDED inputs to other parts and again be maintained and reverberated etc.

Look at epileptics…. They often report that just before a seizure they see images and or hear sounds and often smell aromas that to them are as real as the real thing. We know epilepsy is a result of UNREGULATED CROSS FIRING of electrical activity from one part of the brain to another. What if on a smaller and SUBTLER scale some SHORTING can actually produce EVOLUTIONARY SELECTED FOR effects. Maybe THOUGHT is nothing but “epileptic fits” so to speak that have elevated the ENVIRONMENTAL FITNESS of the organisms that had them instead of producing convulsions and loss of control over the body...

If that is the case then maybe even Neural Nets won’t reach that threshold even with a critical mass unless we allow for RANDOM SHORTINGS that eventually evolve into CONTROLLED SHORTINGS…
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Old 24th February 2012, 06:02 PM   #1742
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Old 24th February 2012, 06:13 PM   #1743
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Originally Posted by Leumas View Post



I think the problem with all this "could", "may be", and "possibly" is that most of the people who are hypothesizing that "simulation=reality" have either never built a simulation or a computer or neither.

If one actually builds a computer from scratch....I do not mean assemble one.... I mean actually make a processor from scratch using FPGAs or actual transistors and all the memory and other peripherals needed.... then one might get an appreciation for how unlikely that it would ever become conscious regardless of the sophistication of the simulation software it is running.

The fact that a computer needs software is PRECISELY why it is not ever going to be a brain. Brains DO NOT RUN SOFTWARE.
The two approaches are mathematically identical. You are wrong. There's no argument here; we are right, you are wrong.
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Old 24th February 2012, 06:14 PM   #1744
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Originally Posted by yy2bggggs View Post
So:

Simulations are real; they have to be, because that's what makes it meaningful to say you have a simulation running at all, versus that you don't.

Simulated entities are real; that's what makes it meaningful to say you are simulating them at all versus that you aren't. And the entities' interactions must be real; that's what makes it meaningful to say your simulation is running versus not running.

If anyone disagrees with any of these points, kindly tell me what it means for me to claim I'm running a simulation--right down to a criteria by which you can judge that I'm lying about it.

Now, simulated entities do differ from their counterparts, at the very least in how they interact (also by definition; if I "simulate" a robot by building one, I didn't actually simulate it--I just built it). Nobody to my knowledge is claiming otherwise.

However, I do disagree with the notion that running a simulation creates another world. It does no such thing. It simply uses the existing world to make a controlled mapping, exploiting the real regularity of real counterparts to achieve a real outcome.

And along these lines, can we drop the silly invented term "objective reality" already? It's just called "reality"; tagging that adjective on is worse than redundant--it's a misnomer.
I wish we could drop "objective reality" too, but this is the philosophy thread, and there are plenty of reality relativists out there.

I agree with you completely about using the real world to create a real counterpart to achieve a real outcome.

Automata come to mind, of course... it's convenient to talk about them in abstractions, but if you've got something set up, say, with patterns of light that "learn", well, that's for real. The machine is learning (for at least one valid definition of the term) and we can leave it at that, as strange as it may sound at first to most folks.

So what about our simulated tornado? Not particle-level, just the kind of thing I could do on my desktop machine here.

Let's break down the points:

Quote:
Simulations are real; they have to be, because that's what makes it meaningful to say you have a simulation running at all, versus that you don't.
Of course simulations are real. I'm not hearing arguments against, so I'll move on.

Quote:
Simulated entities are real; that's what makes it meaningful to say you are simulating them at all versus that you aren't.
This is the interesting point.

There's something going on in this computer which, let's say, behaves in tandem with the way a tornado behaves, to enough of a degree that I'll be able -- because I've set up the system that way -- to talk about things like the simulated tornado's sustained wind speed, maximum gusts, trajectory, and so forth.

Now, what sort of entity is this "simulated tornado" that I can draw these conclusions about? It really exists in some way, or else I wouldn't have anything to base my conclusions on!

Let's start by comparing it to a reproduction -- the "build it" alternative, to borrow your term, to a simulation -- of a tornado. We set up a storm box.

Well, in that case, the whole package is identical. I can use an actual anemometer to get the wind speed, which is impossible with the simulation unless you interface it with some sort of "build it".

So there's no argument against calling this entity a tornado... a small one, but still, a tornado.

But as you say, "the simulated entities do differ from their counterparts".

What is the real entity we've created, which actually behaves in ways analogous to a tornado? Where is it?

Well, it's quite literally inside my computer. And since there's no tornado in there, we can be confident that this entity in the mass-energy world isn't a tornado, but is instead a desktop computer, two things which are different in several obvious ways.

Let's face it, all physically real stuff is just a kind of dynamic shape. Of what, there's no way to say. Ripples in spacetime bouncing off themselves in various ways that echo out from the Big Bang, why not?

What we've done is to make parts of the computer bounce in certain ways like a tornado bounces. But we've lost the tornado itself. We've lost the wind, for example... no small loss.

But this entity... a kind of pattern of behavior in my machine... we'll call it "pattern T"... is set up in such a way that it does things a tornado doesn't do, such as display patterns of lights on a monitor.

Those are the "real outcomes" of the entity pattern T, and they are noticeably different from the "real outcomes" of the tornado entities in our storm box, despite the correspondence between the two.

Naturally, the outcomes of the tornadoes in the storm box are tornado-ey, while the outcomes of pattern T are computery, so to speak.

One set of the outcomes of pattern T is designed to make a human brain behave in a certain way. That's the whole point of it. It does decidedly untornado-like things -- turning on lights, for example -- but it exploits the patterns it retains from a tornado to generate symbols (because human beings designed it to do that) which spark ideas about tornadoes in my brain.

That's where the simulated tornado exists... in my imagination. While pattern T (which is not a tornado) exists in the computer.

Quote:
And the entities' interactions must be real; that's what makes it meaningful to say your simulation is running versus not running.
That's true. Pattern T will be interacting with other patterns in my machine.

The simulated tornado will be interacting with other patterns in my imagination.

Both of those events are happening in the real world (simply because part of the output of pattern T enters my eyballs).

So now we get to the particle-level simulation.

No matter what it is simulating, the simulator is still a simulator, and it can only behave in the way that an object like it behaves, regardless of what the entities comprising the simulation (the patterns of behavior that occur when the sim is running) are interpreted to be by an observer.

If we hypothesize a machine running a particle-level simulation of any part of our universe, this will still be true. The level of granularity of the thing being simulated has no impact on the situation.

And as Westprog has pointed out, these real entities (patterns of computer behavior) will correspond to a vast array of possible things other than the one we intend them to correspond to.

In short, the real entities created by the simulation are the kinds of entities that can exist in a machine that runs simulations. But the reason we create these real entities is to trigger our brains to conjure up imaginary entities.

So I agree there are no other worlds, and no frame of reference except the real world and our imaginations.
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Old 24th February 2012, 06:19 PM   #1745
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Originally Posted by dlorde View Post
Is manual programming likely to be a practical approach? It seems to me that the most effective way to create an AC (artificial consciousness) would be to create a dynamic system that learns in a similar way to biological neural systems, using something along the lines of the IBM neural processor in place of biological neurons.

Hehehe.... We seem to have had the same thought at the same time.... have a look at my post just above yours.



Originally Posted by dlorde View Post
There would likely be elements of programming to establish the behaviour of the neural processors and their connections


That is ONLY because it is easier to use processors to emulate real hardware. Using a processor instead of Opamps enables us to TWEAK the parameters and BEHAVIOR a lot easier than REWIRING different Resistors and Capacitors to change gain and the TRANSFER FUNCTIONS of the neural nodes while in the R&D stages.

But if we already know the Transfer Functions we can just build the system using ENTIRELY electrical components with NO SOFTWARE WHATSOEVER.

But to do that with the tremendous number of Neurons and interconnections needed to reach the required Critical Mass might be quite a daunting task.

That is why it is often easier to just SIMULATE a NN on a computer.

BUT...BUT.... have a look at the LAST paragraph in my post to see why that a normally functioning NN might not even be enough.


Originally Posted by dlorde View Post
but it really doesn't strike me as reasonable to think we could directly program the overall behaviours of such a complex system.

Precisely.....


ETA: it seems you have deleted your post after I quoted it Sorry.... but I like what you said ...why did you change your mind
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Old 24th February 2012, 06:24 PM   #1746
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
The two approaches are mathematically identical. You are wrong. There's no argument here; we are right, you are wrong.

No.
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Old 24th February 2012, 06:39 PM   #1747
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Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
Because you just hinted that you consider the mind of the observer a reality, when actually it is a simulation of reality.

So why not just call all simulations real?

If you want to agree to call nothing real except reality, meaning what is in our minds is not real but merely a simulation of reality, then fine, we can do that.

Are you willing to do that?
We have 2 obligatory frames of reference.

One is the world of matter and energy we're a part of.

The other is our own imagination.

That's just our situation, we don't have any choice about that. Circumstances demand it.

But that said, I do agree that all simulations are real... which is to say, when you're running a simulation, you're really running a simulation.

Imagination is real, too. All you have to do is figure out "in your head" if an N turned on its side looks like a Z and there you are, you've observed it in operation first hand.

As to "what is in our minds is not real but merely a simulation of reality", that is true, too. It is a kind of representation.

The idea of a tornado isn't a tornado. Thank you, Jesus.

That's what makes our imagination a separate frame of reference from physical reality. But an unavoidable one, nonetheless.
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Old 24th February 2012, 06:57 PM   #1748
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Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
I don't think behaviors need to be identical for things like consciousness to emerge, which is rather the point. I think behaviors need to be merely isomorphic for things like consciousness to emerge.
Yeah, I agree with you there.

I don't see any basis for saying otherwise... I mean, how could you justify that?

But here's the thing... we know that brains are built, they're built out of physical stuff. They're organs.

We know that consciousness is a function of that organ. It's something that this organ does, and we can manipulate it in real time, in predictable ways, by physically manipulating the organ.

Which means that there isn't any known barrier to potentially building a machine that does the same thing.

But we have to accept that this behavior -- whatever the behavior is that causes the phenomenon -- is the behavior of some sort of physical object, and if you want to make it happen, you're going to have to build a physical object that does whatever a brain does to make it happen.

And that's what excludes digital simulations.

A digital simulation takes the wind out of the tornado. Do that, you got no tornado, plain and simple. The entity you're left with is a pattern that can "live" in a simulator machine. (And if that simulator machine is an identical match, then it's not a simulation, it's the real thing.)

And this is why we cannot "program consciousness".

If the entity engendered by the simulation were itself conscious, it would not be a simulation.
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Old 24th February 2012, 07:05 PM   #1749
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Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
Because you continually use the general statement "but the things in the simulation are not real" to forward your arguments.

If you hadn't brought it up, we wouldn't be in this mess.
What's this "we" stuff, paleface?

Yeah, I said we just need to discard this idea of talking about what's "real" in "the world of the simulation" because it doesn't make any sense.

There's the simulator, and there's our imagination. Everything we can talk about is in one frame or the other.
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Old 25th February 2012, 12:38 AM   #1750
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post

But we have to accept that this behavior -- whatever the behavior is that causes the phenomenon -- is the behavior of some sort of physical object, and if you want to make it happen, you're going to have to build a physical object that does whatever a brain does to make it happen.

And that's what excludes digital simulations.
These two paragraphs are not consistent.

You just agreed with yy2bggggs that a digital simulation is a real thing.

Yet here you seem to claim that a digital simulation is not a physical object.

Let me tell you what a digital simulation is: it is a bunch of particles ( the hardware of a computer ) behaving in a way that is isomorphic to the thing that is supposedly being simulated. Like yy2bggggs brought up, it *must* be isomorphic because if not it wouldn't be a simulation in the first place.

Do you agree with that?

Now think about something else -- if a real world phenomena features, or rather depends on, some type of cause and effect relationship between events, is there any isomorphism that doesn't also feature, or rather depends on, similar cause and effect relationships between events?

The answer is no, there is not. To the extent that we understand cause and effect, all isomorphisms preserve it 100%.

I hope you see where I am going with this -- just because the particles in the computer hardware are not themselves a watershed, the causal sequences that take place are just as valid as the ones in the actual watershed. Event A causes event B in both the watershed and computer hardware, because the particles in the computer hardware are behaving isomorphically to the ones in the real watershed.

Do you agree with that?

If so, I don't see why you claim that the simulation is merely symbolic. If there are real causal sequences happening in the hardware of the computer, and they are happening due to the hardware behaving isomorphically to a watershed, then there is something going on there that is completely independent of any interpreter.

Finally, please tell me why you think some behavior isomorphisms are acceptable when it comes to generating consciousness but not others. That is, if I could come up with some gigantic system of ropes and pulleys that is completely isomorphic to the systems of the brain, is that acceptable or not? If not, why? It is just as isomorphic as anything less radical.

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Old 25th February 2012, 12:42 AM   #1751
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post

That's what makes our imagination a separate frame of reference from physical reality. But an unavoidable one, nonetheless.
But I don't understand why it is OK to accept one "non real" frame of reference and no others. It seems to me that if you accept our imagination as a separate frame then you should accept any arbitrary frame as a valid frame as well.

I mean, actually what you are saying is that the "real" frame and your frame is valid, but not my frame, because my mind is not your mind and you have no access to my frame.

That doesn't seem very fair.
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Old 25th February 2012, 01:45 AM   #1752
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Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
It doesn't have to match our frame, particle for particle. I didn't intend for the idea to be interpreted as building a perfect simulation of our entire universe, I intended for it to be interpreted as building a simulation where the parts behave like the parts of our own universe.

If you want to do the former, then yes there are some logical inconsistencies, but they don't detract from the essentials of the argument -- how the simulation is constructed is not important, what is important is how the parts of it behave once it is fully constructed.

OK, I don't know about any wider context of argument within this thread, because I have read very few of the posts. But just on that one specific point about of the possibility of "simulating" subatomic particles using a set of rules", I don't think that can actually be done, for the reasons I explained before.

I'm not quibbling about it. I'm just noting that there appears to be an interesting point here about the fundamental difference between making approximate copies of anything at a macroscopic level vs. the apparent impossibility of actually making an identical copy at the particle-field level, regardless of how accurate and correct the "set of scientific rules are" (the "rules" are of course only a convenient and consistent scientific picture of how we believe things should happen).

For example, at risk of seeming to go off at a different tangent - what I mean by an interesting side point, is that it seems to me the impossibility of simulating a particle in that way, is in fact related to current models of how our universe itself may have appeared from "Nothing" (see my previous posts on that), and the fact that literally ďnothingĒ is actually impossible and cannot exist.

What I mean is - the reason you cannot simulate or copy a subatomic particle-field merely from a set of accurate scientific rules, is that you actually need to transfer material properties from an existing set of particles, thereby destroying the original particle that you were trying to copy. However, in theory you might have been able to make the simulation if the simulated particle was created in a different universe entirely separated from ours. But of course that can't work either, for the rather obvious reason that in that case there is by definition no possible mechanism to transfer any information between the two universes.

Fundamentally what I think appears to be happening in that scenario is that in the 2nd universe you would be attempting to re-create a particle literally from nothing (nothing more than your set of "precise and correct rules"). However, the implication that I am suggesting is that the reason that process is impossible (ie scientifically impossible, not merely philosophically incorrect in words) is because the process would actually be attempting to create matter from literally nothing ... and I'm suggesting that is impossible ...

... the reason why that is impossible is that no such thing as "literally nothing" actually exists. On the contrary, the entire reason that we can have an existing universe at all (inc. any/all particles. fields, macroscopic objects, and simulated robots etc.) is because the universe must always exist as "something" rather than literally "nothing" ...

... eg what happens in the current Big Bang models, inc models from string theory, is that prior to the Big Bang, the universe could only exist as a set of interacting energy fields which together cancel one-another exactly to zero (and there is in fact direct experimental support for that). So without going any more deeply into that - it means that there is no such thing as literally" nothing ... dictionary definitions saying that "nothing" is the complete absence of everything, are merely a mistaken remnant from a time when people believed there was such a thing as "empty space".

What has that to do with your quote about simulating particles from a set of perfectly correct rules? Well, the reason you can't ever actually make any such true simulation of a particle is that you cannot do it just from the rules (however accurate the rules are), precisely because you cannot actually create anything from literally "nothing" ... because there is indeed never any such thing as literally "nothing" in the first place ...

... instead you can only simulate the particle by doing exactly what happened in the initial phase of the Big Bang ... you can simulate it by conversion from existing particles-fields, but as I say that destroys the particle-field that you were trying to copy in the first place ... you would now have a "copy" of something that no longer existed ... it would not really be a copy ... all you have really done is moved the original particle from one location to another.

The same thing happens in the Big Bang - primordial short-lived subatomic particles are spontaneously created from the null Initial Energy Density ... they do not actually appear from literally "nothing", because again, there never was and never can be literally "nothing" ... as with the particle simulation - the particles and energetics of our universe can only appear in an Inflationary Big Bang by destroying the initial null Energy Density.
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Old 25th February 2012, 05:48 AM   #1753
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This may have been linked somewhere already, but I like this 10-minute talk by Steven Pinker on the computational theory of mind:

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I AGREE


I think the big take-away is that the computational model gives us a way of looking at and talking about the mind which resolves the confusion caused by our desire to imagine a scenario in which a "perceiver" has a "perception".

You'll note I also ripped off his "tilting N" example upthread.
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Old 25th February 2012, 06:22 AM   #1754
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Originally Posted by IanS View Post
What I mean is - the reason you cannot simulate or copy a subatomic particle-field merely from a set of accurate scientific rules, is that you actually need to transfer material properties from an existing set of particles, thereby destroying the original particle that you were trying to copy.
And yet, we do this as a matter of routine. That rather suggests that there is a problem with your argument.
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Old 25th February 2012, 06:25 AM   #1755
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Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
But I don't understand why it is OK to accept one "non real" frame of reference and no others. It seems to me that if you accept our imagination as a separate frame then you should accept any arbitrary frame as a valid frame as well.

I mean, actually what you are saying is that the "real" frame and your frame is valid, but not my frame, because my mind is not your mind and you have no access to my frame.

That doesn't seem very fair.
Yes. All the people arguing against the computationalist position here are arguing for some form of dualism. Piggy is arguing inconsistently; Punshhh is arguing for an inconsistent universe. The latter is not impossible, just not helpful.
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Old 25th February 2012, 06:27 AM   #1756
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Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
Originally Posted by Piggy
But we have to accept that this behavior -- whatever the behavior is that causes the phenomenon -- is the behavior of some sort of physical object, and if you want to make it happen, you're going to have to build a physical object that does whatever a brain does to make it happen.

And that's what excludes digital simulations.
These two paragraphs are not consistent.

You just agreed with yy2bggggs that a digital simulation is a real thing.

Yet here you seem to claim that a digital simulation is not a physical object.

Let me tell you what a digital simulation is: it is a bunch of particles ( the hardware of a computer ) behaving in a way that is isomorphic to the thing that is supposedly being simulated. Like yy2bggggs brought up, it *must* be isomorphic because if not it wouldn't be a simulation in the first place.

Do you agree with that?
Yes, the digital simulation itself is precisely what you say it is, a pattern of behavior of molecules in a simulator machine, which mirrors some other pattern of behavior of some other sort of thing (river, power plant, epidemic, whatever).

But this is perfectly constent with what I'm saying.

The pattern of behavior we create in the simulator can be arbitrarily large and could correspond to any number of systems, but in all cases it remains a pattern of behavior of the kind of stuff the simulator is made out of, of course.

So while the entity-as-a-pattern-of-machine-behavior is real, its relationship to the system being simulated, despite being isomorphic, still must be interpreted, because that same pattern of machine behavior must also correspond to a vast number of other possible systems.

And because the entity-as-a-pattern-of-machine-behavior is always the behavior of machine parts, you can't reproduce a tornado with a simulator because the simulator doesn't behave like a tornado in real-world terms.

To actually get real-world tornado behavior, you have to literally build a tornado. You could use a storm box, and you could even reprogram our simulator machine to run the thing. But to get the thing itself, you always have to build it in one way or another.

So yes, simulations are real, simulated entities are real, and they are of course different in significant ways from "build it" reproductions of whatever those simulated entities are mimicking.

Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
Now think about something else -- if a real world phenomena features, or rather depends on, some type of cause and effect relationship between events, is there any isomorphism that doesn't also feature, or rather depends on, similar cause and effect relationships between events?

The answer is no, there is not. To the extent that we understand cause and effect, all isomorphisms preserve it 100%.

I hope you see where I am going with this -- just because the particles in the computer hardware are not themselves a watershed, the causal sequences that take place are just as valid as the ones in the actual watershed. Event A causes event B in both the watershed and computer hardware, because the particles in the computer hardware are behaving isomorphically to the ones in the real watershed.

Do you agree with that?
Of course. If we call the simulated entity "pattern W", then the changes in pattern W over time will behave in ways that mirror the behavior of a watershed. If it didn't, it would not be simulating a watershed, so it's by definition.

Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
If so, I don't see why you claim that the simulation is merely symbolic. If there are real causal sequences happening in the hardware of the computer, and they are happening due to the hardware behaving isomorphically to a watershed, then there is something going on there that is completely independent of any interpreter.
Pattern W is not symbolic, it's real.

But pattern W exists, quite literally, inside the simulator machine. Which means it can't be a watershed. It is what it is, and it's real, but a watershed it ain't.

And even if it mimics the watershed in perfect detail, its relationship to the watershed is only one possible isomorphic relationship out of the many that could be described from that same entity.

And as Westprog pointed out, from an imaginary perspective "inside the machine" there's no way to privilege any one possible relationship over another.

Therefore, it is the relationship between the simulated entity, pattern W, which physically exists in the simulator machine, and the intended target of the simulation, the watershed, which requires an observer and is therefore symbolic. That's why isomorphism isn't a game-changer here.

So the simulated entity is real, but it is always essentially the simulator itself, or part of it, and nothing else.

Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
Finally, please tell me why you think some behavior isomorphisms are acceptable when it comes to generating consciousness but not others. That is, if I could come up with some gigantic system of ropes and pulleys that is completely isomorphic to the systems of the brain, is that acceptable or not? If not, why? It is just as isomorphic as anything less radical.
The discussion above should generally answer that question -- the type of isomorphism you're talking about isn't sufficient to ensure a reproduction.

I would have no more confidence in a rope system that's isomorphic to a brain than I would a rope system that's isomorphic to my truck. Ropes are not enough like brain stuff or truck stuff for me to have confidence that they can pull off the behavior of either thing.

Who knows what a conscious machine may eventually be built of, but I'm willing to place a very large wager that it won't be rope.
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Old 25th February 2012, 07:03 AM   #1757
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Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
But I don't understand why it is OK to accept one "non real" frame of reference and no others. It seems to me that if you accept our imagination as a separate frame then you should accept any arbitrary frame as a valid frame as well.

I mean, actually what you are saying is that the "real" frame and your frame is valid, but not my frame, because my mind is not your mind and you have no access to my frame.

That doesn't seem very fair.
The human imagination, yours or mine or anyone else's, is a necessary frame of reference if we're going to understand what happens when a human being sets up a simulation, runs it, "reads" it, and uses it to come to conclusions about whatever s/he's trying to simulate.

We can't describe what's going on without it, but with it and the broader frame of reference of the world of matter and energy that it's a part of, we can encompass that entire scenario.

Of course, in a way, we could say that the simulation is equivalent to asking the computer to imagine something, and tell us things about what it imagines.

We could run through this exercise with a human, too.

Say you're writing a novel and you're stuck, so you go to a friend and describe where you are and he says "Well, what if..." and starts running the story through some permutations. Your friend is, in a sense, running a simulation in his head.

But consciousness doesn't have to be involved. In fact, our brains are constantly making predictions about what will happen next, literally imagining the future, but fortunately that particular process of imagination is not allowed to impinge on our conscious experience.

So to say that a non-conscious computer is "imagining" things isn't as strange as it might sound (although I doubt it sounds strange at all to you or to most folks on this thread).

Which means that of course we can talk about what's going on "in the world of the simulation" in a metaphorical sense. In fact, you really have to if the simulation is going to be of any use.

But it's not a valid frame of reference if we're talking about what's "really" happening anywhere, just as our own imaginations are not.

Not only that, but when we talk about the "world of the simulation" we are choosing only one of many possible mappings out from the simulation pattern to imagine as that "world". That behavior occurs in the brain.

That's why we only need the two frames, the real one in which the programmer and simulator machine and reader exist, and the imaginary one consisting of representations in the human mind.

If we were to try to take the point of view of the simulator machine in our imaginations, we'd have no way of knowing that the things we were imagining were supposed to be simulating anything at all.
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Old 25th February 2012, 07:18 AM   #1758
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Now I think we can get back to this:

Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
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.
So you see, the entities produced by the simulation -- the patterns of activity in the simulator itself -- are real.

But as such, they are only that... patterns of activity in a simulator machine.

As soon as we start talking about any other sort of entity -- a tornado, a truck, an epidemic, a human brain, stock markets -- while refering to these entities, then we're using them to refer to other things, which means we're using them as symbolic representations.

Just like the drawing of the baby. It's real, but it's ink and paper, and as soon as we start talking about "the baby in the drawing" we're using it as a symbol.

That's why it's perfectly valid to talk about the drawing and the computer simulation in the same breath -- as representations, they both work the same way, even though the simulation preserves cause-effect relationships which cannot be preserved in the drawing, and even though they are both (to varying degrees) isomorphic to something else.
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Old 25th February 2012, 07:31 AM   #1759
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
And yet, we do this as a matter of routine. That rather suggests that there is a problem with your argument.

You can create a subatomic particle from a set of conceptual rules? That's news to me.

Can you give you a reference to a paper reporting where that has actually been done, ie making a material object pop into existence from litteraly nothing?

You appear to have a way of breaking the law of conservation of energy? How do you do that?
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Old 25th February 2012, 07:59 AM   #1760
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Originally Posted by IanS View Post
You can create a subatomic particle from a set of conceptual rules?
And any sort of computer, yes.

Quote:
Can you give you a reference to a paper reporting where that has actually been done, ie making a material object pop into existence from litteraly nothing?
Well, that happens too, but the two aren't directly connected.

Quote:
You appear to have a way of breaking the law of conservation of energy?
Why would you say that?
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