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Hans Moravec – 2

answer your question. I think this world that we inhabit is just one of those Platonic worlds.

David: It’s just one interpretation of the infinite possibilities?

Hans: It’s not just an interpretation. The interpretation was just the way that I got to this position that these wills that we’re simulating already exist anyway. The simulation is just a way of connecting them to our perceptions. But actually a simulation doesn’t create the world. The world exists by virtue of its own internal logic. The reason for believing that is that with the right interpretation you can look at anything and see any particular world. I don’t have to look at a computer. I don’t have to look at a counter.

I can look at a rock where the particles in the rock are moving randomly because they’re warm. Each state of motion of those particles of the rock can be mapped through some kind of look-up table into a state of some simulation. So you could see this person that we were talking about inside of that rock if you had the right interpretation. You could see them in anything. So what’s the point of saying that the simulation created them? They’re everywhere, and they they don’t care if it’s a rock, a counter, or a computer that’s simulating them in spatial detail. They don’t feel the simulation at all. They only feel the internal logic of the simulation–the mathematical rules that define what’s being simulated, and how its been simulated. So they just exist. This really is Platonic existence.

So if our world exists Platonically, but in a sea of other possibilities, you then have to ask the question, why is our world so boring? In the space of all possible worlds, there’s a world in which in the next second you sprout wings on your head, and your nose grows into an elephant’s trunk. There are worlds like that that exist in the space of all possible worlds. So why doesn’t that really happen to us? Why does our world seem to be so boring, so tied to these simple physical laws that we’re only recently starting to elucidate? I think there’s answer to that, which is sort of based on simplicity.

First of all, you note that in some of those worlds you don’t exist, and in some of them you do, but you will never find yourself in one of those worlds where you don’t exist. So, for you, just because of the nature of your consciousness–the way you interpret and experience your own existence–you will only find yourself in that tiny tiny tiny subset of all the possible worlds in which you exist. But from the place you are right now, there are still an infinity of next possible worlds, next moments. Some of them have you with wings and a trunk, but those require a lot of coincidences–so that all that can happen, and your consciousness can still continue. You’ll have be in one where your consciousness still continues.

Now, each of those coincidences that’s required, think of as a coin flip. So if you need one coincidence then a certain thing, basically the more things that have to be just so the lower the probability. The chance that you’re going to find yourself in a place where a hundred coin flips come up just the right way is a lot less than a world where it only requires one coin flip or no coin flips. So new things have to be just so. The simplest world is probably the one that requires no changes at all, where things just keep going the way they are. Now, you have a history of going back to the beginning of the universe, where you have a structure that depends on the laws of physics working just so.

Your neurons wouldn’t work if chemistry changed in some way. Your consciousness is an interpretation of the way your neurons work, and your connection with the world. A lot of your experiences depend on everything working just the way it does. If the speed of light were to change, certain chemical reactions would alter, and your consciousness would probably be gone. But pretty much if the laws of physics were altered in any way, your consciousness would no longer work the way that it does. In those other worlds, if that’s all that happened, you would no longer exist. So you can’t

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