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Hans Moravec – 2

So imagine that it’s possible to do a mathematical transformation of the numbers changing in that first box containing the person to some entirely different set of numbers. But then you make the analogous mathematical transformation in the viewing box, with which you use to peek into that first box. Then the person’s still in there, still undergoing their life, even though what the computer’s actually doing is utterly different. Now there’s no limit to what kinds of changes you can make to that first box, and still retain your image of the person. One of the most general ways of showing that is to imagine that the interpretation box is made of a big look-up table.

A look-up table just says, if the first box has in all of its memory cells the following huge number, then it means this. If it has this other big huge number, then it means that. And so on. There’s a huge table. It as an astronomical number of entries in it. So for every possible state of the memory cells in the first box there’s a meaning, which ultimately translates into some picture on the screen with sounds and so on. so By putting in the appropriate look-up table in the interpretation box you can transform the simulation into anything. One extreme thing that you can transform it into is a simple counter–that just counts one, two, three, four, five, six.

But then in the interpretation box you have this giant look-up table that says, one means the person is sitting down right now and they’re sort of tired. Two means they’re just starting to get up, and three means they’re scratching their head and saying ouch, or whatever. I’m still claiming that you haven’t lost the essence of the person, and that the person inside the box is still feeling real feelings, just like they always did. In fact, they’re completely and utterly oblivious to the changes you’re making in the representation, even when you go to the extreme of turning them into just a counter, because they really don’t exist in the box at all. They exist in the interpretation, and the interpretation is not something that is in that external box. It’s an abstract thing.

It’s a mapping that anybody could have. Somebody from another planet could come up with another interpretation box with the right table in it, and see that same person. It’s not something that you create just by peaking, because anybody else can peak and see it, if they they just looked at the thing in the right way. So this leads me to the position that it isn’t the viewers who are creating this person. The person exists independently. Inside of the box he’s completely oblivious of these viewers. They’re just living out the logic of the simulation, and they don’t care if there are any viewers, if there’s lots of viewers, or if the viewers are making mistakes. It doesn’t change anything for them. Their existence is entirely tied up in the logic of the interpretation, regardless of who’s doing the interpreting–even if nobody is.

So I can’t but conclude from this way of thinking that existence is a Platonic thing. It’s not the simulation that created this person. The person existed within the logic of what was being simulated, and the simulation is just basically a way of peeking at them. But they already existed, as the logic of their existence is self-contained. Now, this has even further implications. Let’s say you have a viewing box that looks at this simulation (whose importance I’ve greatly reduced now) and somebody else sees that particular person in there, but that person may have a viewing box with an entirely different look-up table, and be able to see something completely different inside of the simulation that you’ve got.

There are many possible interpretations. In fact, there’s an infinity of them. There are interpretations for all possible look-up tables of arbitrary events. So in this counter you can see any possible world. And any world that has an observer who’s aware of their own existence in it, exists for that observer regardless of whether or not somebody actually has that viewing box or not. So all possible worlds exist, period. In a Platonic sense, that’s really interesting, but there’s no reason to add an extra hypothesis that the world we’re living in is anything other than that. So now I’m starting to

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