Re: CNN article with Bostrom interview and Kurzweil quotes

From: Charles D Hixson (
Date: Wed Jul 26 2006 - 15:35:03 MDT

R. W. wrote:
> I think you hit upon the crux of the matter -- what will we do without
> problems or necessity? I believe we would have to continuously invent
> new ways of having "fun". Or rather, creating significantly more
> complex problem states so that the time between halts increases. It
> seems that in every engineering problem I run into, I am always trying
> to achieve some state of control -- a steady state. Once there, I move
> on to another problem. This is the meaning of my life. I wonder what
> will happen if all of the
I meant halting state in a rather more permanent sense than "this is a
period of rest before the next stimulus". I'll grant that you are
describing a genuine phenomena...but it's not what it think is generally
meant by the term "halting state". Generally I believe it means more
like "time to push the reset button".
> problems presented to me became iteratively trivial. So trivial that
> my ability to notice and solve a problem; even predict and solve a
> problem before it ever manifested itself would approach an asymptotic
> time interval of zero. I would experience continuous halting states
> so much so that the halting states themselves would seem continuous.
> Through iterative learning and continuous self-improvement, the
> probability of error in my predicting future problems should also
> approach zero. I guess a better question is "Are there an infinite
> number of non-trivial classes of problems?" Without a problem set
> what's the point? You permanently halt in a state of bliss and all
> knowingness? At that point, I would hope to be intelligent enough to
> create new problems. The funny part is I would seamlessly solve them
> while creating them. Ultimately, an uber me would need to create an
> intractable holonic problem with which I would attempt to solve level
> by complex level in order to keep from being bored. I would create
> new constraints, and limitations in order to prevent boredom. I would
> continuously create new classes of problems. I would have the G-d
> dilema. If I could ever approach this level of reality. I think I
> could make G-d laugh really hard!
Mnnnn.... not precisely what I meant. I'm saying more that for every
finite state machine there are only a finite number of states. This
includes the results of sensory inputs. If, then, consciousness is a
finite state machine, it must eventually (for some meaning of
eventually) either enter a cycle or so radically change it's nature that
it becomes a significantly different which point the cycle
repeats. Until at some point the state machine either stops itself or
is stopped by an external force.
This argument depends upon two criteria that I've noticed:
1) that consciousness can be accurately characterized as a state
machine, and
2) that consciousness is finite
Of those, the postulate that appears less certain is that consciousness
can be accurately characterized as a state machine, and I'm not certain
what alternatives are reasonable. (Note that I'm not requiring that it
*IS* a finite state machine, merely that this is a good model.)

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