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    Did God Pick Quantum Physics To Protect Us From Evil Scientists?
    By Sascha Vongehr | October 12th 2012 02:50 AM | 41 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Sascha

    Dr. Sascha Vongehr [风洒沙] studied phil/math/chem/phys in Germany, obtained a BSc in theoretical physics (electro-mag) & MSc (stringtheory)...

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    Science based creationism has arrived and is fashionable: Established academics and NASA scientists claim that evolution is merely a deception, the fossil record planted; darlings of “new-atheists” get away with basically saying that the universe is made for humans; arXiv is not above promoting considerations of we-are-in-a-simulation scenarios that are hidden variable realities blatantly inconsistent with quantum mechanics. Here at Alphameme, your source of insight that refuses to sell out to double-faced political correctness in exchange for peanuts, I am thus fully justified to ask (without revealing my hidden agenda, and no, you do not already know it, you just think you do):


    Is God’s choice of quantum mechanics as the fundamental physics of the universe her way of ensuring a relatively “sane” world, her way of protecting us from the most unspeakable evil that scientists could (and would) otherwise inflict by playing creator gods?


    No, I did not all of a sudden lose it, I lost it a long time ago, and therefore I am not above seriously considering precognition or even creation scenarios in order to derive conclusions from analyzing them scientifically. It is often fruitful to assume the supposedly wrong. For example: You can understand much of Einstein-relativity better by assuming Einstein-ethers, which are substances (absolute reference frames) in which relativity emerges to the observers that exist as patterns inside the ether. Often, future generations discover that the wrong is actually true or at least an equally good dual description, like with the Higgs-ether and emergent gravity.


    So yes, I have, though being mostly an “old atheist”, seriously considered several arguments that start out with assuming God in order to make quantum mechanics understood. One of these arguments I will now introduce.


    Crazy, Terrible States

    A ‘crazy state’ is for example a person enjoying ice cream while only remembering hating ice cream. Imagine you find yourself in the process of murdering a loved one, acting out a truly perverse sexual fetish you however do not even have. Such “terrible states” can be consistent with memory, for example via short memory gaps (amnesia).


    The problem with physics is: Just by fluctuation, for example thermal fluctuations, ‘terrible states’ are possible. This is also known as Boltzmann brains (BBs). If BBs were possible, crazy BBs would even outnumber the BBs that observe “normal” situations. BBs could be anyway much more common in the universe than usually evolved brains, especially taking all of future time into consideration. According to some researchers (see references in [1]), you should assume to be a fluctuation somewhere in empty space, hallucinating being on earth, because that is much more likely than having biologically evolved on a planet.


    Child prostitutes, drug abusing street children: Religion has done a lot of bad, but it did not invent atomic bombs. 15 million Indian street children alone – more than three times the number of all children in Australia. Is it an honest admission of their lack of morals if scientists proudly exclaim that they likely created this world via a future simulation?


    Crazy BBs observe something in some sense impossible, as if they have just gone mad. They may witness something classically impossible (say broken eggs reassembling, decreasing entropy), or something “insane”, maybe some logical inconsistency.


    I will not touch on the always wrongly explained issue of ‘quantum fluctuations’. Only so much: QM may be the reason for why we seldom find ourselves in crazy states and perhaps never in ‘terrible’ ones. How so?


    A Crucial Difference between Classical and Quantum

    Classically (=non-quantum), the following is possible: Very intense particle beams are focused on you (say sitting in an air filled box inside vacuum) and evaporate you and the box away. All around this scene there are detectors that detect all the out-flowing particles. Then, at some time in the future, just by letting the detectors return the same kind of particles as detected and with exactly opposite velocities, the time reverse of the destruction is achieved: You get reassembled and then sit there in the box while the very intense particle beams just travel away from you. Time symmetry implies that you would live backwards for a little while until in contact with the environment outside of the detector shell, but we are anyway not at the main point of this argument. More importantly: One could investigate how the detected particles correlate with the exact states in the box and in the end one would be able to construct any desired box state! It would be possible to blast particles together so that the result is any desired, conscious person experiencing whatever and this can be done an arbitrary number of times (a copy machine).


    More child prostitutes for your pleasure: A quantum simulation gone right?  Source: www.peranderspettersson.com


    Quantum mechanics renders this impossible! Although the incoming particles’ states, say coherent laser light, can be known, if the box and its contents’ states are not also known, the outcome states cannot be known. One cannot determine how to return the out-flowing particles. One could just store and mirror the particles (without measuring and thus disturbing their phases). However, one will then only be able to re-assemble once, and only exactly the state that was there initially. Without knowing the box state completely, which requires already having the means to prepare it completely, the particles’ phases cannot be known and thus not be adjusted. (Even knowing the phases does not determine the outcome, but the crucial argument is sufficiently presented without those details.)


    Conclusion

    In a quantum world, no evil scientist can construct you in a crazy state, at least not in such ways (and other ways likely fall to other, related arguments)! This may be part of the reason why we are relatively seldom in crazy states, perhaps never in ‘terrible’ ones: If scientists possibly could construct a state X, that crazy state X belongs to (“already exists” in) totality! But they cannot! Fundamental physics may ensure so generally, namely via its phenomenology being consistent with phenomenal consciousness, thus putting constraints on instantiating (simulating/creating) consciousness, so that at least in these ways, namely via scientists being creators, too crazy (terrible) is impossible. Hell does not belong to totality (say via simulation accidents being possible).


    Coping in Rio, coping in Cambodia, same in Russia, Africa, but also the "first world". Source: www.khmer440.com


    Fashionable “philosophy” and its “simulation hypothesis” suggest that our creator is an evil nerd, because, who else would simulate this terrible world all over again, where marihuana plants are destroyed while children sniff glue, thus absolutely destroying their brains, because “there are some things that you cannot do sober, like eating garbage”? The true fundamental creator, constrained by having to be a self-creating system, may be more benevolent than naïve scientism imagines. The fundamental creator may have stopped her overambitious creations from ever becoming true creators themselves, surely a wise decision considering the nature of many human creations. God may have thus opted for quantum mechanics, at least in any narrative that leaves her a choice.


    ------------------------

    [1] A. De Simone, A. H. Guth, A. Linde et al: "Boltzmann brains and the scale-factor cutoff measure of the multiverse" Phys Rev D (2008) http://arxiv.org/abs/0808.3778

    Comments

    OK. I'm a bit blown away. While not considering myself an atheist I'm certainly not a believer in any religion. It is what it is...I guess. Does that work?

    OK, I'm converted. Thanks! (Where do I tithe?)

    If the fossils in the rock can be forgeries, then why not the traces in cloud chambers too? Once you take a step down that road, fuggedabowdit, you can't know anything. You can't even know that you're asking.

    I've wondered about 'terrible states' for years. Supposedly, per Douglas Adams, ladies' undergarments have some probability of removing themselves, all by themselves, from unsuspecting persons at parties (or, your less pleasant example, there's a chance that you will find yourself torturing a loved one for no recognizable motive). That's all supposed to be terribly unlikely, but given the scope of the universe, terrible states should be common enough to detect. Where's one un-scrambled egg?

    Whatever basis it has in theory, it seems there's (macro) evidence that it's false. Relegating all the 'terrible states' to other worlds in a multiverse doesn't help - why should our universe be the one that "makes sense?" It makes no sense.

    Love the articles, sir. I even understand a few. Keep 'em coming!

    vongehr
    If the fossils in the rock can be forgeries, then why not the traces in cloud chambers too? Once you take a step down that road, fuggedabowdit, you can't know anything.
    Yes and no. You are correct, all empirical science (cloud chamber traces, nonlocality in QM correlations, ...) falls to the simulation hypothesis, and I do not see that as problematic as many other scientists do, because QM for example already tells us (empirically even!) that empirical records cannot be completely relied upon to reflect the theory that allows those very empirical records (e.g. if one is in a freak branch, e.g. one tosses a coin and it just happened to come up heads hundred times in a row, ...). However, this does not destroy conclusions based on logic (also science, just not empirical science), for example the constraints from that the whole must be fundamentally self-creating even if I assume to be in somebody's laboratory in a vat. Particularly, arguing the way I start here, should lead to the result that in some sense it does not matter, however, that is a very difficult argument.
    If there can be a Boltzmann Brain, there can be a Boltzmann Chicken!
    If A then B. Not B. Therefore, not A.
    I take it as given that there can't be a Boltzmann Chicken.

    But, I can afford to lean on intuition. I'm not trying to get to the bottom of the secret of the universe. Or, I'm not trying very hard. I'm hoping it will just come to me, or I'll spot it on a blog.

    I've never seen proof of it, but I'm pretty sure we don't live in a giant's moustache. (My joker grandfather told me that when I was about 6, and curious.) Sure, maybe the universe is in a vat, or it's a simulation, or infinite branching worlds (almost all of which are crazy), or it's turtles all the way down, or I'm personally the only thing that really exists and I'm dreaming the rest of it, or you're dreaming me and I don't know it... Or maybe it's a giant's moustache.

    Probably the world is weirder than any of those things! but I intuitively dismiss those. (They sound like the sort of thing a human would invent. Unlike relativity or QM, which are legitimately weird. Especially the Simulation World seems like internet-era, new-age woo. But there's something intuitively goofy - not counterintuitive, but intuitively goofy - about all of them.)

    Probably I should have taken another philosophy class, but - if you're ready to dismiss empirical observation as possibly an illusory aspect of a simulation (forgive my terminology), then why shouldn't logic be equally "unreal?" Anthropomorphically: If I am made to see two when there are not two, then why can't I count mathematically (or arrive logically) to three when there are not three? And how would I ever know the difference, even if I changed worlds, or the world changed?

    Blah blah.
    That was my question:
    Why doesn't logic also fall to the simulation hypothesis?

    Amir D. Aczel
    Good article! See the Sean Carroll blog on Discover Magazine, where in one of his answers to comments he claims that the emergence of a brain in space is more likely than an ordered whole universe like ours. But: A brain like ours needs a universe (at least an Earth and a Sun and evolution) to support it--which is a major flaw in what Carroll and other proponents of the weirdness of the Megaverse are pushing. I like your emphasis on morality: It places Boltzmann Brains, etc., as an intellectual elitist's fantasy.
    Amir D. Aczel
    vongehr
    A brain like ours needs a universe (at least an Earth and a Sun and evolution) to support it ... proponents of the weirdness of the Megaverse are pushing. I like your emphasis on morality
    Slow down there - you may have misunderstood me. 1) A BB does not need anything outside of it. It is there and thinks for a second, then it dies. The next second is thought in another BB occurance perhaps gazilion years earlier. 2) "proponents of the weirdness of the Megaverse" sounds suspicious. There is "many worlds" (e.g. QM, modal realism), and there is the concept of "multiverse" (e.g. string theory landscape, chaotic eternal inflation). 3) My emphasis on morality is merely a next level strategy (postmodern deconstruction?), namely letting the enemy's own weapons blow up in their faces. The issue is that pseudo-skeptic "new atheists" claim to be morally superior while on the other hand being irrational and non-skeptic in what they support and fight.
    John Hasenkam
    The issue is that pseudo-skeptic "new atheists" claim to be morally superior while on the other hand being irrational and non-skeptic in what they support and fight.

    Maybe they should read ... 
    Article: Quantum Questions: Mystical Writings of The World's Great Physicists
    Authors: Ken Wilber ed. with the research assistance of Ann Niehaus





    Eddington, Beyond the Veil of Physics.

    "The idea of a universal Mind or Logos would be, I think, a fairly plausible inference from the present state of scientific theory; at least it is in harmony with it. But if so, all that our inquiry justifies us in asserting is a purely colourless pantheism. Science cannot tell whether the world-spirit is good or evil, and its halting argument for the existence of a God might equally well be turned into an argument for the existence of the Devil.


    -------
    We are allowed to think about these things but we will be attacked by many Dawkinites for doing so. Stuff ém. 






    Stuff all the -ites and -ists.

    I see where your outrage comes from: such "claiming to be morally superior" is an exclusive (c) copyright (TM) trademark of organized religion and any attempts to infringe on the part of unauthorized secular competitors should be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible by theocratic authorities.

    Georgie
    Hi Sasha

    Great Article, I think i understood what you are getting at, but i realize what you wrote may not be what i understood.
    I find the missuse of QM to make religious points rather depressing.  Religion is based on faith, and science is based on facts as we know them to be at the time.  I have yet to hear a scientist envoking faith in their defense of their theories. So why some believers feel the need to evoke a twisted series of facts and theories to bolster their belief in god.  Is faith not enough for them?

    BTW I like the use of the feminine pronoun in your referring to god. 

    cheers
    vongehr
    I find the missuse of QM to make religious points rather depressing.  Religion is based on faith, and science is based on facts as we know them to be at the time.
    But QM does have something uncomfortable to say about the status of empirical records and how they relate to the interference of possible past histories, so the "facts" are not just partially constructed (via the theoretical interpretation and socially, which physicists like to simply disregard) but even physics proper is no longer naive about objectivity, nor is probability theory any longer naive about the central role of belief (Bayesian priors, Nash equilibria/ESS as self-fulfilling beliefs). Hard science nerds just like to brush this all aside and simply have faith in "objectivity".
    I have yet to hear a scientist envoking faith in their defense of their theories.
    That is the problem: They don't and mostly completely reject the mere thought of it.
    My main problem with the article is the reification of QM as though there is some aspect of existence called QM which is causative. QM is a theory about reality that exists as thoughts and printed matter. It is not something that can act.

    Gerhard Adam
    QM is a theory about reality that exists as thoughts and printed matter.
    So, you're arguing that it is simply made up and doesn't represent anything tangible?
    Mundus vult decipi
    No, I am saying that QM is a description of reality and cannot be reified. QM is not a part of objective reality and cannot act. Quantum processes exist and are causative but a theory about those processes cannot be causative.
    The same kind of reification occurs in discussions about climate where climate, which is an averaging of weather over a period of time is reified as causative agent and causes changes in weather and thus a change in climate, etc.

    vongehr
    same kind of reification occurs in discussions about climate where climate, which is an averaging of weather over a period of time is reified as causative agent and causes changes in weather
    Well, that "reification" is just the usual emergence of higher order descriptions. Of course I can meaningfully say that if the climate is much dryer, the to be expected weather on a particular summer day will likely be a certain way. That does not negate reductionism, and if this is your meaning, I would not even accept it if made in the context of QM, although I do accept and support your points (see below).
    vongehr
    You are correct; QM is fundamentally not timelike causative (that would need time as simply given) but logically (the reason or one explanation for why things appear the way they do). Though there is decoherence and interference, QM cannot act on the most fundamental level, parallel worlds do not "interact" but correlate stronger than explainable by common causes. Fundamental descriptions must exist as physical reports, just as you point out, which puts constraints on them. I make precisely these points, for example here and here. Expressing in completely correct language is however too difficult even on a science site. As for example shown by the response that my essay, which is precisely about what you point out, has gotten: people simply do not (want to) get it.
    Perhaps it is best to just recognize that applied math and other concepts, other than those which just identify objects in objective reality, are metaphor for what actually exists. Reductionism to the most elementary parts of reality and their identities is fine as long as ones theories recognize that emergent identities will occur which are not just sums of the elementary identities such as in chemical compounds where the properties of the compounds are far from the properties of the elements forming the compounds. The same can be said for interference in slit experiments. What seems important are the edges and their diffraction of light or other particles. A single slit brings two edges and their diffraction patterns near one another and causes a interference of light in the gap. That can be seen looking toward a bright area when you bring a thumb and a fore finger near each other. A double slit is a rectangular stop which has two edges and their diffraction effects which interfere behind the stop and produces a bright stripe behind it. Then two edges with their diffraction patterns are brought near the edges of the rectangular stop to produce the rest of the interference pattern. Probability distribution of the particles in each of the experiments will be just right for that experiment and are not summations of the probabilities. These can be looked as being emergent properties that emerge from more fundamental properties. When experiments are done, any change in procedure will result in such emergent property results. Just be clear by strictly distinguishing between the concrete and the abstract.

    vongehr
    what actually exists. Reductionism to the most elementary parts of reality ... The same can be said for interference in slit experiments.
    Though not wrong, this looks too simplistic regarding what constraints description (theory construction) and observation put on the "real". I suggest you forget about the slit experiments for a while and concentrate on the EPR setup and apparent QM nonlocality. I have written many articles here on that, all with the aim to enlighten about "reality", so I naturally recommend them to you.
    The most stunning thing about that arxiv preprint concerning the universe as a simulation is the logical leap from the idea of a fundamentally discrete universe to an assumed simulated universe.
    News flash: the best experimental evidence indicates (and most active theorists into possible QM/relativity unifications agree) that our universe *is* fundamentally discrete at the smallest scales (Planck time, Planck length). Nature abhors infinities, and that includes the infinitely divisible.
    How the authors got from these unremarkable and not-at-all-new concepts to the conclusion that our universe is "only" a "simulation" involved some bizarre handwaving and appeals to intuition that I just couldn't follow except via a weak analogy to computer games and scifi movies.

    vongehr
    It is not this easy either. QM struggles with the finding that discreteness is emergent while the theory is currently best described with continuous evolution between pure states (related to unitarity, qubits) and sadly even continuous time (which really annoys me - but science is not there to please me). Yes, that paper is too silly, but that does not excuse your writing equally silly stuff like "our universe *is* fundamentally discrete". We can never operationally verify an infinity of points between two points; any clock that measures finer than a certain limit becomes a black hole, yes, but such does not imply that the best description will not hold some continuous ingredient central.
    Supervillain: So Bond, you have fallen into my trap. Any last words?

    James Bond: Quantum mechanics will be your undoing!

    (The solace of quantum? There's a punch line in there somewhere.)

    Thor Russell
    Yes it may be the case that it is impossible to speed up consciousness etc because of the way the universe is, but perhaps also the opposite reason:

    In order for the simulation hypothesis to work, consciousness needs to be possible in a non-neural substrate. Otherwise it would just be about disembodied brains in vats, which is not the simulation hypothesis. You also need to be able to compress the environment. If your goal is the most efficient simulation, then given the environment will already not be simulated perfectly then you would not worry about errors in the simulated brain that gave lesser errors than those already introduced by simulating the environment. Hence there will be no reason not to compress the simulated brains as much as possible within this bound. Its pretty clear that this could stop them from being phenomenal. For example, if all that matters is "she/he died" then there is no reason to simulate it in detail, therefore it won't be experienced, but the simulator won't care. So in order for the simulation hypothesis logic to work, reality needs to be compressible, conscious brains need to be compressible, but it needs to be impossible to compress them in such a way that still gives approximately the same answers, yet destroys phenomenal consciousness. I don't see why this should be the case, and I can think of reasons (not recalculating etc) why this wouldn't be. This isn't an absolute argument like your one, as a sadistic simulator could still do this, but it would have to be a strange one at that to go to that effort.
    Thor Russell
    vongehr
    about disembodied brains in vats, which is not the simulation hypothesis
    Since the "compression" you talk about can go step by step, replacing ever more neurons until none are left, where is the difference?
    (Does not a fundamental difference between these scenarios equal the presence of a fundamental line for phenomenal consciousness being crossed between the scenarios?)
    Thor Russell
    ? Yes of course it does equal the presence of a fundamental line. Obviously it is crossed when you in the extreme compress someone being happy with the words "She is happy". I am arguing that a simulator will perhaps always cross such a line in search of a more efficient/faster simulation. It may not happen in the switch from neurons to discrete time/digital computer, but at some later compression stage. Some kind of line (or perhaps graceful degradation, you are more conscious than a mouse?) surely exists.
    Thor Russell
    vongehr
    But whether this line exists is the question. The popular usual suspects, say D. Dennett or people who write on QM many worlds or on simulation hypothesis, refuse such a line to be meaningful ("phenomenal consciousness"). However, the conclusion about for example torturing a baby adding no suffering to totality, is never thought through. The more science forces us to see the truth, the more we start deceiving, because the conclusions, say simulation hypothesis being creationism, cannot be sold, and the true conclusions of fundamental thought are utterly unpalatable to anybody but psychopaths.
    Thor Russell
    Hmm, I'd better look up on what Dennett says in more detail perhaps. Don't you however imply that a line exists with your simplest sufferer? If the SS can exist in a discrete system, then surely it is meaningful to ask what degree of errors or lossy compression destroys it while leaving similar external behavior.
    Not sure why you bring up adding no suffering to totality, isn't this an argument for moral nihilism, are you now saying that this is the rational position? Does that argument depend on rejecting some kind of counting of identical alternatives. "A" has "already happened" once is equivalent to "A" has happened infinity times, so causing "A" to happen doesn't matter at all, no matter how good or bad.

    If that is the argument, then I'm not sure why you need to include totality in your moral system to make the argument work. Wouldn't the same argument apply in the branches of a single MWI universe. i.e. your decision won't matter because both paths will happen anyway, and weights/counts don't matter.  I don't know how one is supposed to make sense of these kinds of arguments, even without emotions attached.
    Thor Russell
    vongehr
    Don't you however imply that a line exists with your simplest sufferer?
    The Simplest Sufferer article asked to find out whether there is such a line, and it suggested to actively find out. Furthermore, I asked, if there is no such line, but people do agree that a baby inside an isolated box can be made to suffer, what does that imply about how we should treat AI systems. Or, can our disregarding phenomenal consciousness as being a useful concept be said to be equivalent to the position that one cannot add any suffering to totality (i.e., if there is no line, our non-caring attitude toward AI is extended to hold for the baby in the box!).
    Does that argument depend on rejecting some kind of counting of identical alternatives.
    Yes. From the quantum mechanics viewpoint, you can always pull back onto the very phenomenon and treat all numbers of instantiations (~ uncertainty about self-localization) as the uncertainty background around the one (single) mental state that can be described as supervening on the minimally necessary quantum state (regardless whether that state is prepared/observed relative to some observer or merely "simulated", the QM state is the QM state).
    include totality in your moral system
    I start from totality, because the most fundamental description is that of totality, and determinism is a remnant of that totality is totally constrained (as being precisely all the possible). Is this a moral system? The only moral (= "decision guiding") conclusion I have ever deduced from it is global suicide as arrived at by extremely rational systems.
    your decision won't matter
    That would need a discussion of what "decision" describes. A past decision is the history of the present and as such can be said to "matter".
    and weights/counts don't matter
    They matter as expectation values. Whether that in some other way "matters" (to the rational player in a strategic game, to society) depends on the goals or even on how you define "it matters".
    Thor Russell
    Surely you cannot add suffering to totality no matter what the answer to that question, in which case you could argue why then attach meaning to suffering at all? Everything you do has "already happened" repeating it won't do anything then and it is irrational to care.
    For rejecting identical alternatives, I am not quite sure. If you have a discrete system, do you map one QM state to one mental state, or similar QM states (those with the same discrete representation) to the same mental state. Is another  run of the same discrete states counted twice or not, even if the QM representation of each state will be slightly different each time. e.g. a "1" is 0.8 vs 0.81Volts in the silicon from one run to the next. Also is the number of distinct QM states in a discretized system less than compared to a continuous one?

    "Global" in suicide meaning before the system actis, it first attaches infinite importance to consciousness on the lumps of rock orbiting the closest ball of hydrogen as compared to the second closest one, even though consciousness is the same for both? Making such an arbitrary line doesn't sound very rational to me. 



    Thor Russell
    vongehr
    Surely you cannot add suffering to totality no matter what the answer to that question
    Precisely - however, most people reject this (clinging to a magic form of "free will" that somehow gets around this).
    If you have a discrete system, do you map one QM state
    Start with the phenomena. The "discrete systems" are what I am aware of talking "about".
    "Global" in suicide meaning before the system actis, it first attaches infinite importance to consciousness
    ???
    Thor Russell
    ???:"Global suicide" does not derive from a super rational, super intelligent being who's morals or decision guiding system is concerned with totality. "Global" in a way like you have defined it would have no special significance to such a system. Why make up a term "global" when you are concerned with totality, what is the point of it?

    Also if nothing changes the amount of suffering in totality (or anything else for that matter), then moral nihilism in regards to suffering (and everything else) is the result. There is no reason to choose any one course of action over another as neither change totality. So there is no reason for "suicide" either.
    Thor Russell
    vongehr
    "Global" in a way like you have defined it would have no special significance to such a system.
    "Global" indicates that a system is not in competition with others just like it (selection pressure no longer selects the most to survival clinging competitors). Moreover, it is powerful enough that it can ensure zero probability of accidental re-evolution from the ashes.
    Also if nothing changes the amount of suffering in totality (or anything else for that matter), then moral nihilism in regards to suffering (and everything else) is the result.
    I know what you mean, and it is in a way true, but nevertheless I hold the following against it: Not true, because since all is fundamentally determined, whatever you find yourself with is the result.
    There is no reason to choose any one course of action over another as neither change totality. So there is no reason for "suicide" either
    I do not pick a course of action in order to change totality, I find myself picking and remembering/constructing reasons for having done so. Reason to choose = I find myself in an improved (relative to whatever adopted value) situation which is consistent with the remembered choice, and because of this consistent post-selection, such "will" producing systems can be described as emergent via evolution. Rational suicide is just the last step in what an ever increasingly rational system does.
    Thor Russell
    There are many things that I could disagree with here, but there are two main points that seem to be to be decreasing rationality in this scenario. So is a system not in competition with others is going to put itself first over other non-competing systems that is is aware of? There is an analogy you can draw with humans here. I am not in competition with starving people in Africa in any meaningful way, however it is rational to help them out when I have the chance. So, a super advanced system that knows about suffering systems in adjacent solar systems is going to completely ignore them? That seems as rational as me saying that peoples suffering in distant countries isn't important. Some of us are already past that stage.
    If rationality says that someone elses conscious state should be just as important as your own, then that  is what follows. If you help someone in another country, then you help aliens in another star system. It doesn't matter if it is suicide or helping. If you are in enough misery to want to end your life, but your neighbour is in extremely more and wants to end their life, it is selfish to put your self first in this situation just like any other. In order not to take an interest in the affairs of others, you seem to be assuming some irrational non-interference principle here. Sure you may try to justify it, but you havn't even acknowledged it. Without this, I think that "global" would have no significance to such a system.


    Secondly I find the "accidental re-evolution from the ashes" even stranger. Lets say that if the system chooses a certain course of action such there is a reasonable chance that something will "re-evolve" (your word not mine) from the slime in 500 million years time. Now why would such a system consider whatever evolved on its planet 500 million years later with likely little resemblance to it as "it" or "itself"? This seems quite irrational to me, so therefore it would have no desire to avoid such "re-evolution".


    For example the super rational system may know that there currently exists an alien system/beings on another star more similar to its recent ancestor than what would evolve in 500 millions years time on its planet. e.g. If humans are told if we go extinct, then in 500M years time snakes will evolve to become sentient, and there are some roughly humanoid looking aliens already existing on a star 10 light years away, and asked which is more "us" the sentient snakes or the humanoid aliens, then many people living today would say either "none" or the humanoid aliens. By the system choosing an action ensuring the non-existence of the hypothetical  snakes, but ignoring (not ensuring the non-existence of) the humanoid aliens you are implying the system chooses the snakes every time as being enough "it" to "help" by causing to cease to exist. I don't think this is logical. It should identify with and "help" the humanoids first. (Well it should treat all as equally important if it was more rational, but that was the first point I made)
    Thor Russell
    Gerhard Adam
    That seems as rational as me saying that peoples suffering in distant countries isn't important. Some of us are already past that stage.
    You're overlooking species bias.  You aren't nearly as concerned about other species that are suffering, even within your own country, so your comparison doesn't hold.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Thor Russell
    But we are talking about some super-rational being here, which would apparently have progressed past species bias. And yes I am concerned to some extent about other species suffering in distant countries. The hypothetical super rational system is claimed to have absolutely zero such concern. Little concern and zero concern will give different behaviours.
    Thor Russell
    vongehr
    A (relative to an utility) rational actor maximizes (an irrationally supplied, e.g. via evolution, e.g. survival urge) utility. An increasingly more rational system increasingly questions the utilities (e.g. their mutual consistency).
    If rationality says that someone elses conscious state should be just as important
    Define: rationality, identity (relative to what discriminating function acting on what space, e.g. space-time (500 million years) or totality), importance (utility relative to which self-identifying actor)
    Then: Derive your claim.

    I have not revealed my core arguments, and I won't in a comment. A friend helps to make the most "positive" out of it, directed at the individual system finding itself reading it, and we may publish it in a few months or we may decide to be silent.
    Thor Russell
    To meaningfully discuss things I would need to fully understand and use your definitions I think otherwise we will be talking past each other. I can quite easily define terms such as that to make your theory not work. Part of my point is that identity cannot be meaningfully defined anyway and your argument as I see it depends on it meaning something to the system. But without seeing your core argument nothing much productive can come of it. I have not been able to guess what your core argument is. 
    I think I can understand your reluctance to publish it, if I truly believed such a thing and had discovered it then its not at all clear whether I would publish it or not. If you are correct then of course it won't affect the final result, but could cause some pretty unpredictable things in the meantime.

    If you are not going to publish it, I can't see the point in you ever referring to it again however, that can hardly be optimum.
    Thor Russell
    vongehr
    Definitions are not so arbitrary. Writing about QM and evolution do both separately demand the scientific definition of rationality via rational actors in established game theory. Identity is whatever a system happens to identify with (cares about), for example "I" differentiate "myself" into a ~0.4 second animal consciousness versus "I" the writer, who can meaningfully exist only inside descriptions that have rough time resolution (at least minutes while rewriting this comment, better up to months).
    I will probably publish in some form or another, in order to witness the reaction. Will it be a mature ignoring, a clever co-opting in some distorted, marketable way, or will it be a childish reaction like actively kicking me out of certain platforms in ways that cause unnecessary drama?
    Thor Russell
    Well I will be looking for unjustified assumptions, inconsistencies etc. I am skeptical that you can cover the many issues I see in the way of such a proof, but will wait and see. I expect it will be ignored because it will just seem crackpot to most people and not threatening. I expect there are few people that have sufficient knowledge (myself included) in all the fields you will draw on verify all of the argument. Most of these people will just assume the weird sounding stuff in a field they don't know is incorrect and take no further interest. 
    Thor Russell
    John Hasenkam
    <i>_However, it does provide some tentative evidence for a consciousness existing almost independently of the brain or as you describe in a 'non-neural substrate' or is that not what you meant?</i>

    No it doesn't because:


    1.


    The CNS has a sort of "reserve oxygen supply" because of the rich capillary network. It is also has a reserve energy supply because neurons rely on pyruvate released from astrocytes, not glucose, which is turned into pyruvate by astrocytes which are in direct contact with the blood supply. It is also possible that neurons can produce pyruvate, currently contentious but not relevant here. What is relevant is the supply of pyruvate in the extra-cellular space. So consciousness could still exist at least for some seconds after the loss of blood flow.


    2.


    MRIs do not measure all cerebral activity, it depends on the imaging method.


    3.


    His argument is predicated on the assumption that consciousness is fundamentally a neocortical phenomenon. He should try reading Dimasio.


    4. 


    When we recall dreams that seem to have a long time frame that is because we are serialising a set of images that may have well happened all at once. We do this because it makes no sense to think it all happened at once so when conscious we re-interpret the dream experience. 
    ----
    That neuroscientist needs to go back to school. Made more errors than a priest in a brothel. 


    vongehr
    Had a look at her link. Yes, this is just a trip report like one can find every month one on erowid.org. Great exploitation of the way the media work though, one has to hand it to all involved.