Saturday, January 22, 2011

Re: [Yasmin_discussions] Around Simulation II - Simulated Senses and the Un-Simulatable

This post of mine is a long one, but I hope it in a way finds common ground and
patterns in the richness of the recent posts, and I hope I am not too unclear in
what I'm trying to bring together...

"To smell a scent again, you have to smell something else, then get back to it."

I think Julieta is saying something important here, and that is the movement of
perception, which is in a way a form of choice of localisation of a movement in
time and space. Which might be considered as a computation? In a situation of
non-change, our brain gets kind of bored with a smell, and it sinks to
unconscious activity. The state is 1 = smelling the scent of the flowers: 1, 1,
1, 1, 1, 1, until a shift happens 0 not smelling the flowers, then 1, 1, 1,
again. Hence the electronically shifting smells of those things we can put in
our houses. A movement of our head, but also of our mind in time/space allows
for different smells oscillating and rearranges the neurons in our brain in a
way that keeps us aware of a smell, otherwise it seeps down to memory. This does
not include the emotional state/subjective experience of the smell, but is that
so very different?

Subjectivity comes from being able to compare something, the water is hot/cold,
hot/cold water triggers something in my Human form that gives reward in my
brain/body or not, allowing me to 'like' or not. The thing is, the water is hot
and cold at the same time, depending on my perception/ localisation factors in
time and space. The water is hot if I just came out of the freezer, but it is
cold, if I just came out of the sauna. Most likely I guess, it is my DNA that
sets the boundaries of my senses, giving and interpreting signals. There is also
a probability factor to this, and a Past archive of experiences (our brain loves
patterns). It's as fickle as the taste of food. The state of my atoms determines
the state of the reaction my brain has, determining if I experience it as a
'reward' or not and how I will perceive the same taste in the future. The moment
my brain says yes I like it, that neurological pattern is a set preference, that
creates a 'probability' of me experiencing the same food in future as tasty.

The question in our discussion on simulation is: who is doing the simulating?
Classical computer (digital/analogue) programmes? Human Body and Minds? Quantum
Computer Programmes? Roger asks us to re-focus on the Un-Computable in relation
to the Un-Simulatable, although I'm not sure I understand how "processes in the
universe where there is no shorter description than the process itself" is
linked to subjective experience? Or were these two separate unsimulatables? I'm
not so sure subjective experience is un-simulable. Or un-computable. Lets ask if
it is Un-Programmable? Then suddenly human subjectivity does not seem that far
off the scale of computability. As we know we can be programmed to fear
something...we can be programmed to like something. We are just not quite sure
how it happens. But it is about changing the neural path that leads to reward in
the brain, right? It is the chemical state of our body that makes us feel good
or not. Hormones...

With regards to Chaitin, does his theory not depend on light being a fixed
speed? When more and more scientists are speculating that the fixed aspect of
light is based on human belief, (nothing more then a state of neural patterns I
assume), we can question the laws of physics (Again I relate to Wubbo Ockels
TedxAmsterdam 2009 talk here in which he suggests that the speed of light is a
human construct). In the quantum world the speed of light is not fixed it seems
with Scientific American Headlines such as:

"Quantum weirdness wins again: Entanglement clocks in at 10,000+ times faster

Indeed Natasha and I had wonderful discussions about Constructivism and
Scientific Realism. Perhaps they come together in the investigations of quantum
computations that suggest that the Universe itself is a quantum computer
computing itself and we play a big role in generating these computations. If we
think about the paper by Nick BOstrom, are we already living in a computer
simulation? Then subjectivity would already be simulatable....

Going to the level of atoms, (I love the reference quote by Natasha of Richard
Feynman "... everything that living things do can be understood in terms of the
jigglings and wigglings of atoms."), as in the end the chemical state of our
body that determines subjectivity could be considered nothing more than the
jiggling of our atoms.

It is perhaps the seemingly unpredictable jiggling of our atomic/electrotic
chemical, etc, state that makes subjectivity so fickle... and is thus a taboo
in science due to its lack of clear reproducibility. But any artist might object
to this notion, as they know that certain positioning of shapes and materioals
in space triggers a network of associations that have a probability of inducing
a subjective state that generates meaning. Semir Zeki's research refers to the
artist as an intuitive neuroscientist, based on the idea that the artist tests
the jiggling/activation of the neurons on ones own brain with the notion that
this will happen in the brain of the viewer as well with a high probability.
Does this not suggest a level of predictability that suggests a level of

Getting back to the atoms that jiggle...the smallest state, lets call it an atom
the smallest for now, meaning the atom that cannot compute itself because a
programme would have to be smaller. (Please understand I'm just an artist, so I
could be making huge thinking mistakes here :))), but does this suggest that it
is un-computable?

Seth Lloyd, who invented the quantum computer explains how he zaps atoms with a
laser and sees if it emits light. He calls that state 1 if it doesn't and 0 if
it does. He calls it a process that allows us to 'talk' to atoms, and 'hear'
them talk back. (p129, Programming the Universe). These special bits called
qbits are in superposition, and are thus 0 and 1 at the same time. Seth refers
to a question posed by David Deutsch: Is there any way that these quantum
superpositions can be used to compute in ways that classical computers do not?"
and the answer turned out to be yes. (p136, idem). A quantum computer can
perform two (contradictory) computations at the same time. Its called quantum
parallelism. Does this not suggest that the atom can be the computer and well as
the computed at the same time?

Lets get back to the body, subjectivity and computation. The unit of information
is a bit. Which is short for binary digit, which is most often depicted as '1'
and '0'. A bit represents one of two alternatives, but this can be hot/cold,
black/white, hate/love, in/out. The meaning of information depends on how it is
to be interpreted. As Seth Lloyd explains, meaning is defined only relative to a
scheme of interpretation, but the interpretation of meaning is ambiguous. Lets
say we intuitively know that hate and love are two of the same thing. A thing
can be dreadfully Ugly and yet Beautiful at the same time. A computer is either
analogue or digital, if it processes information , it can compute. A programme
is a set of instructions. For (classical) computers ambiguity is a bug that
causes an error, so they are currently not able to simulate subjectivity. But
quantum computers are in themselves ambiguous. Suggesting that an electron in a
superposition is everywhere at the same time. Unless a 'choice' is made. The
choice being an observation, taking a stance, positioning a perspective.

Time, like Natasha notes is crucial. Time, or the experience of time, could be
the very aspect that allows us to process/organize information by putting it in
a past, a present and a future. Allowing for a perspective.

As Joshua points out: "But how do we simulate what is sacred, other than by
changing the behaviour of that which interacts with it?" There seems to be a
limit to possible interactions. These limits are perhaps the very time
constructions that lead to energy fluctuations, that lead to slightly different
behaviours, different entropies. As Seth Lloyd explains: "Energy makes physical
systems do things. Information tells them what to do" "It is this interplay-this
back-and-forth between information and energy-that makes the universe compute."

Might we conclude here that if the Universe is a Quantum Computer, then yes,
memory, subjective experience, life death, all is computable, and thus in
essence should be (re)-simulatable (in future?)?


PS I leave out consciousness here...perhaps the next un-simulatable?

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