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Chad2 comments on Beyond the Reach of God - Less Wrong

68 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 04 October 2008 03:42PM

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Comment author: Chad2 04 October 2008 04:59:47PM 0 points [-]

"Conway's Life has been proven Turing-complete, so it would be possible to build a sentient being in the Life universe"

Bit of a leap in logic here, no?

Comment author: Baughn 05 November 2011 01:06:42PM 12 points [-]

Worst case, our laws of physics seem to be turing-computable.

Comment author: hwc 07 December 2011 12:39:37PM *  7 points [-]

The leap is that the Church–Turing thesis applies to human (“sentient”) cognition. Many theists deny this.

Comment author: Kyro 02 July 2013 08:30:36PM 0 points [-]

Many theists deny this...

To elaborate, if God exists then consciousness depends on having an immaterial soul. If consciousness depends on an immaterial soul, then simulated entities can never truly be conscious. If the simulated entities aren't really conscious they are incapable of suffering, and there's no reason for God to intervene in the simulation.

The thought experiment is not a very effective argument against theism, as it assumes non-existence of souls, but it serves the purpose of illustrating how unthinkably horrible things can actually happen.

Comment author: hwc 06 July 2013 05:17:21PM 6 points [-]

if God exists then consciousness depends on having an immaterial soul.

I translate that into logical notation:

(God exists) -> For all X (X is conscious -> X has an immaterial soul)

I don't concede this conditional. I can imagine a universe with a personal creator, where consciousness is a material property of certain types of complex systems, but souls don't exist.

Comment author: hwc 06 July 2013 05:36:33PM 2 points [-]

Eliezer (I think) feels the same way about the necessity of souls as about the Judeo-Christian god. Interesting hypothesis, but too complex to have anything but a small prior. Then no supporting evidence shows up, despite millennia of looking, reducing the likelihood further.

Comment author: wedrifid 07 July 2013 05:55:07AM 1 point [-]

Eliezer (I think) feels the same way about the necessity of souls as about the Judeo-Christian god. Interesting hypothesis, but too complex to have anything but a small prior. Then no supporting evidence shows up, despite millennia of looking, reducing the likelihood further.

Has Eliezer suggested that he believes that the Judeo-Christian god is an "Interesting hypothesis"? My model of him wouldn't say that.

Comment author: hwc 21 July 2013 03:34:57PM 1 point [-]

I think I meant “interesting” in a sarcastic tone.

Another way of putting it: “You (theists) claim a high level of belief in this hypothesis. Because so many people (including close family members) take this position, I have though about this hypothesis and find it too complex to have anything but a small prior. Then I asked myself what observations are more likely if the hypothesis is true and which would be less likely. Then I looked around and found no evidence in favor of your hypothesis.”

Comment author: SaidAchmiz 06 July 2013 05:58:49PM 3 points [-]

A number of your conditionals are false.

To elaborate, if God exists then consciousness depends on having an immaterial soul.

This is totally out of nowhere. What has God's existence have to do with what consciousness does or does not depend on? They seem to be entirely logically independent. (This one has already been handled by hwc.)

If consciousness depends on an immaterial soul, then simulated entities can never truly be conscious.

False again, because there's no a priori reason why simulated entities can't have an immaterial soul. (For instance, if God exists and is omnipotent, then by definition he could cause it to be the case that (some or all) simulated entities have immaterial souls.)

If the simulated entities aren't really conscious they are incapable of suffering

And false a third time, because it assumes that suffering depends on consciousness. A number of e.g. animal rights proponents deny this.

Comment author: textonyx 09 November 2013 07:15:02PM *  -2 points [-]

Seems to me your comment would have received more votes if you had amplified it a bit considering the majority viewpoint of readers attracted to this blog. What Eli's assumption depends upon: The biblical words are 'God created man in his own image', which hinges on assuming God created the universe. Now, if God can create us in his own image, why can't we create a sentient AI in Our own image? Did god pass on to us whatever "power" he used to endow us with sentience so that we are also empowered to pass on sentience? Can we arrive at a correct answer just be looking at the evidence?

From the theistic approach we live in a universe .. one theory (Linde) is that we live in a multiverse with many local universes with their own laws of physics, perhaps they are turing-computable? There is controversy about whether the baby universe is shaped (inherits) laws from the parent universe or whether the physical laws of the baby universe evolve on their own, essentially random in relationship to the parent universe. It is known that experiment cannot provide an answer to which way this unfolds. Looking at the physical laws of this universe (observations) doesn't provide insight as to which, if any, inheritable traits are passed from parent to baby universe.

In other words, even if the laws of this universe are turing-computable (Zuse, Fredkin/Wolfram, and Deutsch in an expanded CT Thesis sense) that doesn't provide the foundation for a firm conclusion, because not all possibilities are excluded with this amount of information. Computability is an algorithmic thus cause and effect structure. This doesn't answer the question of whether the origin of the universe is likewise computable. Most current theories introduce faster than light source moments and computability/law of cause and effect, have a speed of light limitation. A similar difficulty arises in the effort to reconcile Relativity and Quantum Theory->to make it universal, called the Problem of Gravity which is really a problem about defining and integrating time.

Cause and Effect unfolds over time. The question is called The Problem of First Cause. What was the cause which first spawned this universe in which have evolved. Causes have effects. What was the effect which generated the beginning of the universe? There is a paradox if you define the first cause as identical to the first effect because the progression through time is eliminated which is the hallmark of a relativistic theory of the universe. Religions get around this by positing a God, one without beginning and without end = eternal. If God is identified as the same as the physical universe then he comes to an end assuming the universe has a finite span. The problem is that we are in the forest and can't see the extent of the forest to come to a good answer based on observed evidence. We are not in the same category. So that is the leap of logic, 'Life having been proven to be Turing-complete' leads to an over-generalization because one has to assume that this description is exactly analogous to an evidence based conclusion that human sentience is a causal product of a physical universe evolving according to fixed physical universal laws which are identical to their origin.

I favor this view, but that doesn't mean it isn't circular which is the heart of Chad2's criticism. It's yet another grasp for a firm foundation to answer the core question(s) of Who Am I and What Is My purpose. The tacit assumption contained in Eli's quoted statement is inspired by the same need to invent Karma and Reincarnation to try to show that life is actually fair and that we can make sense of it. One doesn't need to be a theist to deny "The leap is that the Church–Turing thesis applies to human (“sentient”) cognition. Many theists deny this." one just needs to be a critical thinker not ready to adopt a ready plausible answer based on using human reasoning as a great tool to explore consciousness conundrums.