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MarsColony_in10years comments on Excluding the Supernatural - Less Wrong

37 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 12 September 2008 12:12AM

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Comment author: MarsColony_in10years 22 March 2015 02:58:01PM *  0 points [-]

If our universe really is Turing computable, we will never be able to concretely envision anything that isn't Turing-computable

Sure we can. We can use a Turing complete language to program a crappier, non-Turing complete language that runs within our existing Turing complete framework. You've described how to convince you that 1+1=3, after all.

Suppose that a 747 had a fundamental physical existence apart from the quarks making up the 747.

What experimental observations would you expect to make, if you found yourself in such a universe?

Well, for starters, we'd have physicists building supercolliders to try to break 747's into smaller, constituent particles. If 747's were irreducible, they'd fail every time.

If the fundamentally irreducible components of conscious beings were large, say the mind itself, then human brains would have no “moving parts”, no thoughts to interact with each other. We wouldn't be able to form new or different thoughts. We wouldn't be able to learn, or grow, or change our minds. We'd just exist, eternally and unchanging.

If the fundamentally irreducible components were thoughts, then we would only see a relatively small set number of possible thoughts. We'd see the part of the brain that dealt with that specific thought light up whenever we had that particular thought. Human brains would have to be much larger in order to accommodate a usefully large giant look-up-table of thoughts. Each thought would also have an irreducible physical form, and would interact with other thoughts and the physical world through a the laws of physics, which would also contain fundamental mathematical laws about how thoughts interacted.

If the mind had fundamentally irreducible components that were combined to make up thoughts, then all cultures would have different words for exactly the same words for those concepts. We could translate whatever words corresponded to irreducible components between languages with nothing lost in translation.

If the fundamentally irreducible components were slightly smaller than words, then we'd probably develop various phonemes to precisely correspond to these thoughts, and translation of complex concepts across languages would still have a lot of fidelity, although occasionally a language would need 3 or 4 words to express a combination of concepts that other languages had one single word for.

If the fundamentally irreducible components of thoughts were much, much smaller than thoughts, we'd see a fundamental particle inside each neuron of our brain, or perhaps replacing neurons. We'd have different laws of physics that dictated how these fundamental particles interacted to create thoughts.