The Singularity

This is a discussion on The Singularity within the A Brief History of Cprogramming.com forums, part of the Community Boards category; Originally Posted by ggs if the universe has a big, truly random number generator behind it, everything is still effectively ...

1. Originally Posted by ggs
if the universe has a big, truly random number generator behind it, everything is still effectively deterministic. just because the outcomes of physical events are not predetermined doesn't mean that your action is any less the result of very basic physical reactions and not some spiritual god-like will. your creation is still empty of worth
You just canceled yourself out there. If it isn't predetermined, it's not determined. Thats it. Just because a few things have cause and effect relationships doesn't mean its a full deterministic system. If you want to focus on a random generator of the argument, then whats the random generator for? whats it's purpose in the universe? to give other objects in the universe purpose? Perhaps the random generator is purpose. Perhaps purpose is not existant as how we've defined it specifically. Perhaps universal purpose is simply existing instead of not existing. Law of inertia - an object at rest tends to stay at rest, and in motion tends to stay in motion. The universal random generator put the first string in vibration - the purpose to no long have non-existance?

2. hmm..... does this mean ggs that I could put a loaded gun to your head and pull the trigger without you resisting at all, because that would be just a part of your deterministic universe?

P.S. does anyone else think ggs is just one of those emo nihilists that are replacing Goths as the current losers?

EDIT: also the whole notion of a large number generator being behind the universe is absurb. What created the generator? what was its purpose? who created the creators of the generator?

3. there is no cancelling out. being pre-determined isn't the same as being determined. if the universe is responsible for your actions, random physical laws or not, your actions are still determined for you, not by you. free will is meaningless under such circumstances. purpose is just a human term... i never claimed that the universe had some innate universe. i think that all things are valueless without people to value them, but i'm questioning the value of these values right now. if all the values we create are actually chosen for us, then there is no human purpose in creating values

4. >>P.S. does anyone else think ggs is just one of those emo nihilists that are replacing Goths as the current losers?<<

dude, it doesn't matter who he is, and I was hoping we could keep this thread a normal discussion. And btw nihilists (term coined by Russian writer Turganev) have been around since the early 19th century.

5. the next moment of wrenching change will occur when the universe is shown to be utterly deterministic
It's been proved or disproved already (actually "proof" doesn't apply to the real world at all, i should really say "there is a lot of evidence for it or against it already...), depending on what you mean by determinism. I suspect your using determinism in its classical sense in which case, it's been disproved.

Free-will has been a scientific nonsense for a long time, (although people like Daniel Dennet argue for a different kind of free will) but that has no effect creativity or anything else.

my vision of the future involves no imposition of structure among the people, just a future where people have found evidence of the deterministic nature of the universe. as a result, everybody who thinks about the issues of life will come to realize how meaningless it is - and it will not be conjecture, it will be fact. some will rationalize it with bizarre religious logic, others will do their best to ignore it, observing that people lived just fine in the past without letting this worry them, and for others it will devastate them - they know that creation is the only worthwhile thing to live for, and will also know that their creation is false. it's a matter of how many will fall into each catagory
Interesting but overly melodramatic; the non-existance of "free will" in the traditional sense would seem to be beyond reasonable doubt already, but that hasn't stopped 99.9% of the population believing in it. I don't think anyone is going to be devastated simply because there is not going to be a magic event that suddenly convinces everyone that their sense of control is illusionary. Furthermore the melancholy tone of your prophecy misses something key: That what we consider important is essential up to us. You have (IMO rather bizzarly) decided that "creation" (whatever that means) is important, but the great loss of "meaning" is nicely eliminated by relegation of "meaning" from something desperately important to something totally irrelevent. The quest for knowledge, understanding, experiencing the wonder of the universe, of life, indeed the very substance of living stands untouched by revelations about our internal workings.

I would say to axon that not believing in free-will, or in any cosmic meaning does not lead inevitably to a reduction in quality of life, it merely leads to a change in perspective (albeit one that perhaps takes a while to get used to).

Now back on topic:

Futurology is lots of fun but is by nature somewhat dubious so take the following with a lump of sodium chloride.

So anyway if you follow the current trends in technology what kind of world do you end up with?

Well, IF artificial intelligence and biotech/nanotech continue advancing it's easy to see the mind expanding beyond the realm of plain neurology. I think expansion of awareness from our individual sense to something group based is likely, when i first read Hawking discussing the possibility i thought it was ridiculous but the more you think about it the more feasable it becomes especially if you can retain individuality if you can plug into and out of a worldwide web of minds at will.

But.. that technology seems pretty far away and assumes that we don't hit any walls (which we very well might - Moore's law seems about to die, and biotech's ability to turn out sci-fi style technology is limited by our ability to model the systems involved, which in turn is limited by computational power)

6. well, the 'prophecy' i made was intentionally a bit dramatic. i think most people would fall into the middle case myself.

> That what we consider important is essential up to us

the point is that deciding what is important is an act of creation, the creation of a value - and if we cannot ourselves decide what is important, it is not up to us

> The quest for knowledge, understanding, experiencing the wonder of the universe, of life, indeed the very substance of living stands untouched by revelations about our internal workings.

i disagree here, but i'm currently modifying my perspective of things to deal with the seemingly likely invalidation of free will - raised a catholic, taught to believe that free will is key to life. still believing that

but tying back into the topic, free will or not, at least i can try to enjoy spectating. watching technology progress is interesting, but i don't think that people will understand the structure of the mind well enough anytime soon to do anything with it. the technological singularity is too far into the future to worry about. i'm feeling pessimistic and i think the role of science in the near future is more about clamping down the exact limitations of the universe and what can happen in it

7. dude, it doesn't matter who he is, and I was hoping we could keep this thread a normal discussion. And btw nihilists (term coined by Russian writer Turganev) have been around since the early 19th century.
well, it is somewhat on discussion, as alot of what is being said is being influenced by people's personal biases and beliefs. I was mainly meaning it to be along the lines of that living in a "depressive fantasy world" does kind of limit your interjection.

My personal belief, based somewhat on psychological facts , is that very few humans can grasp the concept that consciousness is a physical waking dream that consists of the lies we try to tell ourselves to get by in this universe. Life does have a meaning, to the individual and to groups of people, but not the world wide population.

I personally think that in the very very rare case that a singularity is made, mankind will wake from this dream and realize the truth, and this world will cease to exist in the way we imagine it.

8. > hmm..... does this mean ggs that I could put a loaded gun to your head and pull the trigger without you resisting at all, because that would be just a part of your deterministic universe?

broadly speaking, the determinism would be that i would try to prevent you from pulling the trigger. i would do my best to keep you out of my deterministic universe, but it wouldn't be because of free will but because of determined cause and effect.

> P.S. does anyone else think ggs is just one of those emo nihilists that are replacing Goths as the current losers?

i am a loser

> EDIT: also the whole notion of a large number generator being behind the universe is absurb. What created the generator? what was its purpose? who created the creators of the generator?

with that kind of view, the notion of the universe is absurd as well

9. the point is that deciding what is important is an act of creation, the creation of a value - and if we cannot ourselves decide what is important, it is not up to us
Values are not things that exist of themselves, to think of them as being "created" or indeed "destoryed" seems to me somehow false.

When you say "we cannot ourselves decide what is important", what exactly do you mean - i am capable of reacting to new information, my awareness of that reaction, and indeed the reaction itself would seem to be governed by the laws of physics but that doesn't prevent it occuring. You appear to be seperating the decision making process from what you consider to be "you", what you must realise is that "you" ARE part of that process or perhaps more accurately part of that process is "you", the fact that the process is governed by statistical laws makes no difference.

i disagree here, but i'm currently modifying my perspective of things to deal with the seemingly likely invalidation of free will - raised a catholic, taught to believe that free will is key to life. still believing that
Yes that's exactly what it is, your objection is routed in your prior stance. As someone raised catholic you were taught to inherently place value in a purpose, in a meaning. In fact through out history humanity has always done that. If suddenly you discover that such concepts are illusions your entire out look can seem to collapse, but it can be replaced. My advice to you is to read "Unweaving the rainbow" by Richard Dawkins, it presents a view of life and living within the world as revealed by science that is thrilling (though the first page where he says if the ultimate end of the universe bothers you, you're nuts, stopped me reading it for about 2 years - at the time, the ultimate end of the universe was bothering me ).

I am a loser
I don't think you're a loser, when i was 16 i thought along similar lines, not exactly the same but similar, and damn i'm great so don't worry you'll be fine.

10. > You appear to be seperating the decision making process from what you consider to be "you", what you must realise is that "you" ARE part of that process or perhaps more accurately part of that process is "you", the fact that the process is governed by statistical laws makes no difference.

the bag of meat, bones and other odds and ends that 'i' am made of has, by the miracle of physical laws, decided it would very much like to be a god 'i' value the idea of the individual above most others, and it is not very aesthetically pleasing when the process that is not its own force of the universe. i got started on this train of thought because i read an article in the newspaper recently about a famous mathematician who has retreated to the mountains in italy to work out the physics of free will.. that item really got to me

11. he bag of meat, bones and other odds and ends that 'i' am made of has, by the miracle of physical laws, decided it would very much like to be a god
That's err nice, but not a particularly usefull aspiration.

'i' value the idea of the individual above most others, and it is not very aesthetically pleasing when the process that is not its own force of the universe. i got started on this train of thought because i read an article in the newspaper recently about a famous mathematician who has retreated to the mountains in italy to work out the physics of free will.. that item really got to me
You're values need to change, it always hard to do so, but sometimes it needs to be done. You are a little piece of the universe, born of the stars, shaped by 3.5 billion years of iterations you get to experience the wonder of existance, what could be more asthetic than that?

How many events in history had to transpire just as they did so that you were born? Billions of events slotted together to give you're distinct personality the opportunity to spring into being. Think of all the 'could have been's and all the 'never will be's. You get to experience living, rejoice, you're one of the few.

12. i'm not going to stop myself from enjoying things, but i still don't have find that outlook to be particulary inspiring either. and that's how things remain for now...

13. * backs away slowly before a flame war erupts***

14. just put on your flame resistant cape and you'll be fine

15. Originally Posted by axon
just put on your flame resistant cape and you'll be fine
The thing about it, is these discussions due to lack of scientific data - involve a lot of guess work and at times borders mainly on beliefs. beliefs are very close to religion...politics....yada...yada..yada.

So I try to stay out of them. I heard a quote once, and I try to stick to it.
The mere man of pleasure is miserable in old age, and the mere drudge in business is but little better.
Whereas natural philosophy, mathematical and mechanical science are a continual source of tranquil pleasure,
and in spite of the gloomy dogmas of priests and of superstition, the study of these things is the true theology;
it teaches man to know and to admire the Creator, for the principles of science are in the creation,
and are unchangeable and of divine origin.
---Thomas Paine
"Age of reason"

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