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Question: What can you be reincarnated as?
Nothing, doesnt happen - 36 (49.3%)
Rock - 6 (8.2%)
Plant - 4 (5.5%)
Animal - 7 (9.6%)
Mammal - 7 (9.6%)
Human - 13 (17.8%)
Total Voters: 53

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Author Topic: Do you believe in Reincarnation?  (Read 3768 times)
myrkul
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January 18, 2013, 08:35:26 PM
 #21

I don't but I used to in a previous life.

Isn't that kinda like "I'm not gay, but my boyfriend is"?

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January 18, 2013, 09:36:42 PM
 #22

I don't but I used to in a previous life.

Isn't that kinda like "I'm not gay, but my boyfriend is"?

Not if you're a girl.

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January 18, 2013, 10:03:44 PM
 #23

You've probably heard of the Observer effect. The only explanation that I can think of for the above is that the 'mind' is the observer looking at our brain. Perhaps neurons are really amplifiers that listen to a mind that exists on a quantum level?

It's amazing. Something you said actually made sense. I suppose it had to happen some time.

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January 19, 2013, 12:10:45 AM
 #24

Really, there is no separation between the atoms of your body/brain and the atoms of the air next to it. For our brains to be able to make sense of the world, they make such arbitrary distinctions.

Try to move the atoms in your hand in a coherent direction to do something.

Now try to do the same with the atoms of air next to your elbow.

That's the distinction, and it is not arbitrary.

So essentially you have come up with a rule that defines individual things based on movement (or maybe control?). Would a rule based on temperature be just as valid? Why is your rule valid and not any other? If it turns out that no rule is any more valid than another, then any choice of a rule is arbitrary. If you try to program a computer to take an image and draw lines around "things," you will find that there are many ways to do so, none of which would perfectly agree with every human.

If we zoom in to the atomic level on your hand, there will be atoms of dead skin cells next to atoms of air. Skin cells are constantly falling off of your body, and there is a constant flux of various atoms into and out of your skin. The concept of a thing requires some geometrical boundary between one thing and another. Where would you draw this boundary around your skin? 1 atomic radius outward from the outmost atom of a skin cell? How do you logically define which atoms belong to a skin cell then? If a cell falls off your body, how far away from the rest of your body can it be before it is a separate thing?

If spatial boundaries between things seem hard to define, what about temporal boundaries? For instance, all life on Earth is a constant replication of cells. Cells from your parents combined and formed you. Your parents are continuations of cells from their parents, and so on. There was never a point where one could clearly draw a line saying these cells are one person and the cells before it were another. Any choice of such a boundary would be arbitrary, unless you can provide some non-arbitrary reason for one. Some people say life begins at conception, but why draw the line there? Why draw any line at all? Out of usefulness for humans to be able to talk about things, sure, but there is no such thing as usefulness to the universe, and boundaries based on usefulness to humans are arbitrary.


You've probably heard of the Observer effect. The only explanation that I can think of for the above is that the 'mind' is the observer looking at our brain. Perhaps neurons are really amplifiers that listen to a mind that exists on a quantum level?

It's amazing. Something you said actually made sense. I suppose it had to happen some time.

Can't tell if serious...the observer effect has nothing to do with humans. Consider a thermometer in a cup of water. This thermometer is "observing" the temperature of the water. However, the temperature of the water is different now that the thermometer is interacting with the water. What would the temperature be without the thermometer in there? We can't know, because you have to measure something to know, and thus affect the system. This is essentially what the observer effect with regards to quantum physics means. It has nothing to do with consciousness or the mind-body problem.
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January 19, 2013, 12:37:31 AM
 #25

There was never a point where one could clearly draw a line saying these cells are one person and the cells before it were another. Any choice of such a boundary would be arbitrary, unless you can provide some non-arbitrary reason for one.

I (well, not me, but other, greater thinkers than I) have come up with a non-arbitrary reason for a boundary. It's based on control. Because I can control the actions of my body, and nobody else can, that is what makes it my body. As for that clearly drawn line, that, too, is simple: Once the nervous system in the developing organ is developed enough that the baby can move it's own limbs, it is a separate person. Memory is important, as well. I am not the same person, neither in personality nor in cells, that I was years ago, but I remember having that body, I remember being that person. That continuity, at least in part, is me.

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January 19, 2013, 02:49:09 AM
 #26

How do you define the "I" that is controlling your body? What about split-brain patients or multiple-personality disorder?

If you say anything the "I" can control is part of the body, isn't that circular logic? You are getting around the problem of defining the body by assuming you can define part of the body ("I") as well as define what is and isnt under control. If for instance your hand causes something to move, how do you not consider that to be controlling the moved object?

Also, you did not to explain why "control" is a non-arbitrary choice as a rule to define a body.
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January 19, 2013, 03:25:01 AM
 #27

How do you define the "I" that is controlling your body?
I don't need to, and I don't care. For my definition, it doesn't matter.

If you say anything the "I" can control is part of the body, isn't that circular logic? You are getting around the problem of defining the body by assuming you can define part of the body ("I") as well as define what is and isnt under control.
You make an assumption that the "I" is part of the body. Maybe it isn't. Do you have evidence either way?

If for instance your hand causes something to move, how do you not consider that to be controlling the moved object?
Ahh... but it's not just control, though, is it? it's also sensation. When I move my hand, I feel what I touch with it. When I use my hand to move something, I do not feel what it touches, I only feel the thing I am moving. The cells in my hand communicate back to my brain, telling me what I am touching. The touched object does not communicate back, it only interacts with my hand.

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January 19, 2013, 12:34:33 PM
 #28


You've probably heard of the Observer effect. The only explanation that I can think of for the above is that the 'mind' is the observer looking at our brain. Perhaps neurons are really amplifiers that listen to a mind that exists on a quantum level?

It's amazing. Something you said actually made sense. I suppose it had to happen some time.

Can't tell if serious...the observer effect has nothing to do with humans.

Why not? If our eyes didn't actually absorb any light from their environment, we wouldn't be able to see.
Same re: sound and hearing, and how our other senses have to interact with the environment in order to sense things.


Quote
Consider a thermometer in a cup of water. This thermometer is "observing" the temperature of the water. However, the temperature of the water is different now that the thermometer is interacting with the water. What would the temperature be without the thermometer in there? We can't know, because you have to measure something to know, and thus affect the system. This is essentially what the observer effect with regards to quantum physics means. It has nothing to do with consciousness or the mind-body problem.

I think it has everything to do with consciousness and the mind-body problem. If our consciousness had no way to measure our brain, how would we know what we're thinking? However, if we insist on the brain being both the consciousness and the measurement tool together as a cohesive unit, then it might be (theoretically) possible to simulate its capabilities on a computer and we're faced with the limits of Turing machines again.
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January 19, 2013, 06:01:00 PM
 #29

I only meant that if we didn't have something that we call 'I', then presumably we could be modelled like a computer. But, as you pointed out we can do something special that Turing machines can't: we can alter our own programming.

Any Turing Machine can alter its own programming. Lisp is an example. Also, a program which simulates biologically plausible neural networks (such as the Integrate and Fire method), and uses STDP (Spiked-Timing-Dependent-Plasticity) is a Turing Machine compatible program which is perpetually modifying its own behavior.

Another example is a program which employs a population of genetic programs which undergo constant evolution. See Karl Sims' genetic art. The proof lies in the utter lack of a procedural style among the program's output. It's behavior is modified by interaction with the environment. See here: http://www.karlsims.com/genetic-images.html
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January 19, 2013, 06:27:12 PM
 #30

Energy cannot be destroyed. It can only change forms. I assume this applies to consciousness as well including the matter we live in. Matter has been thought to be of fractals which is just energy. Turn that energy to its purest, distilled form and we end up with a soup that some may consider god.

In the end, assuming an infinite universe, our consciousness will pop up again. It may as well be through reincarnation.
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January 19, 2013, 06:40:34 PM
 #31

What makes you think we are necessarily reincarnated back on this planet if it occurs..?  Wink    There are probably trillions or quadrillions, maybe infinite, unquantifiable numbers of places in the universe we could be reincarnated?  Who knows, it's too bad we are not "permitted" to be conscious of our past lives past childhood unless we have success with hypnotic regression, etc.  I believe there are reasons for this also...

Yes, I believe in it.  Actually, let's just say that from all I have "experienced" on the matter, I know our hyper-dimensional souls exist virtually forever and this little trip of ours here in these meat sacks is just a sliver in "time" and but one notch for us in our spiritual evolution.


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January 19, 2013, 06:41:30 PM
 #32

In the end, assuming an infinite universe, our consciousness will pop up again. It may as well be through reincarnation.

In an infinite universe, one  can imagine some individual out there with the exact same brain structure as yours, right down to every synapse, and thus every memory, which means they would feel like what it is to be you. But does that mean you get to experience their life going forward?
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January 19, 2013, 06:43:48 PM
 #33

In the end, assuming an infinite universe, our consciousness will pop up again. It may as well be through reincarnation.

In an infinite universe, one  can imagine some individual out there with the exact same brain structure as yours, right down to every synapse, and thus every memory, which means they would feel like what it is to be you. But does that mean you get to experience their life going forward?
Well, this experience, this consciousnesses exists at this moment. What is preventing it from existing in the future?
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January 19, 2013, 06:44:33 PM
 #34

Please.
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January 19, 2013, 06:54:27 PM
 #35

In the end, assuming an infinite universe, our consciousness will pop up again. It may as well be through reincarnation.

In an infinite universe, one  can imagine some individual out there with the exact same brain structure as yours, right down to every synapse, and thus every memory, which means they would feel like what it is to be you. But does that mean you get to experience their life going forward?
Well, this experience, this consciousnesses exists at this moment. What is preventing it from existing in the future?

Nothing, I suppose.

But my point is: imagine there are exactly two of you in this Universe. Each of you feels the exact same thing due to the exact same brain wiring and environment. You feel like him. He feels like you. But let's presume that your lives split off into different experiences going forward. For example, you burn your finger on the stove, and he meets a beautiful woman. At this point, it should become clear that you weren't him, nor were you really experiencing his life.
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January 19, 2013, 06:55:33 PM
 #36

In the end, assuming an infinite universe, our consciousness will pop up again. It may as well be through reincarnation.

In an infinite universe, one  can imagine some individual out there with the exact same brain structure as yours, right down to every synapse, and thus every memory, which means they would feel like what it is to be you. But does that mean you get to experience their life going forward?
Well, this experience, this consciousnesses exists at this moment. What is preventing it from existing in the future?

Nothing, I suppose.

But my point is: imagine there are exactly two of you in this Universe. Each of you feels the exact same thing do to the exact same brain wiring and environment. You feel like him. He feels like you. But let's presume that your lives split off into different experiences going forward. For example, you burn your finger on the stove, and he meets a beautiful woman. At this point, it should become clear that you weren't him, nor were you really experiencing his life.
True, there will be a duality. I concede your point.
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January 20, 2013, 12:30:40 AM
 #37

I only meant that if we didn't have something that we call 'I', then presumably we could be modelled like a computer. But, as you pointed out we can do something special that Turing machines can't: we can alter our own programming.

Any Turing Machine can alter its own programming. Lisp is an example. Also, a program which simulates biologically plausible neural networks (such as the Integrate and Fire method), and uses STDP (Spiked-Timing-Dependent-Plasticity) is a Turing Machine compatible program which is perpetually modifying its own behavior.

Another example is a program which employs a population of genetic programs which undergo constant evolution. See Karl Sims' genetic art. The proof lies in the utter lack of a procedural style among the program's output. It's behavior is modified by interaction with the environment. See here: http://www.karlsims.com/genetic-images.html

OK OK, I was wrong about the reprogramming part. However, intelligent machines still need to deal with things like the "Halting problem". AFAIK it takes a life-form to overcome that.

Nice link! I've only skimmed it but I think I get the general idea. The observers are basically "playing god" and arbitrarily deciding which GA's make the fittest (or prettiest) pictures. The algorithms evolve, but the initial programming still has to come from somewhere. The determination of fitness also has to come from somewhere. And the discussion gets steered towards the first cause. I find this difficult to accept.

A few things puzzle me:
By programming computers, we create the framework for artificial evolution, but where does our programming come from?
Where does the energy come from? OK, so Schroedinger suggested that life feeds on negative entropy -- but what does that even mean?
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January 20, 2013, 06:03:34 AM
 #38

I only meant that if we didn't have something that we call 'I', then presumably we could be modelled like a computer. But, as you pointed out we can do something special that Turing machines can't: we can alter our own programming.

Any Turing Machine can alter its own programming. Lisp is an example. Also, a program which simulates biologically plausible neural networks (such as the Integrate and Fire method), and uses STDP (Spiked-Timing-Dependent-Plasticity) is a Turing Machine compatible program which is perpetually modifying its own behavior.

Another example is a program which employs a population of genetic programs which undergo constant evolution. See Karl Sims' genetic art. The proof lies in the utter lack of a procedural style among the program's output. It's behavior is modified by interaction with the environment. See here: http://www.karlsims.com/genetic-images.html

OK OK, I was wrong about the reprogramming part. However, intelligent machines still need to deal with things like the "Halting problem".

Why do they need to deal with the "Halting Problem"?

AFAIK it takes a life-form to overcome that.

Why does a life-form even need to deal with it, and how does it deal with it?

Nice link! I've only skimmed it but I think I get the general idea. The observers are basically "playing god" and arbitrarily deciding which GA's make the fittest (or prettiest) pictures.

I'd say the observers are simply environmental factors. Word it how you wish though.

The algorithms evolve, but the initial programming still has to come from somewhere. The determination of fitness also has to come from somewhere.

True, but in theory, the initial programming can be made to be as generic as possible, but then we'd wait around forever to produce something that starts to behave in such a way that allows us to see meaningful results.

A few things puzzle me:
By programming computers, we create the framework for artificial evolution, but where does our programming come from?

See the last thing I just said. It started with very simple organic compounds, which behave according to the laws of physics. Where those laws came from, of course, is of course, what science is all about: don't impose an answer to early, rather admit it's an interesting problem deserving to be researched.
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January 21, 2013, 12:19:41 PM
 #39

I only meant that if we didn't have something that we call 'I', then presumably we could be modelled like a computer. But, as you pointed out we can do something special that Turing machines can't: we can alter our own programming.

Any Turing Machine can alter its own programming. Lisp is an example. Also, a program which simulates biologically plausible neural networks (such as the Integrate and Fire method), and uses STDP (Spiked-Timing-Dependent-Plasticity) is a Turing Machine compatible program which is perpetually modifying its own behavior.

Another example is a program which employs a population of genetic programs which undergo constant evolution. See Karl Sims' genetic art. The proof lies in the utter lack of a procedural style among the program's output. It's behavior is modified by interaction with the environment. See here: http://www.karlsims.com/genetic-images.html

OK OK, I was wrong about the reprogramming part. However, intelligent machines still need to deal with things like the "Halting problem".

Why do they need to deal with the "Halting Problem"?

AFAIK it takes a life-form to overcome that.

Why does a life-form even need to deal with it, and how does it deal with it?
I'm not sure, but for me it intuitively seems that if we didn't have any built-in mechanism to make illogical decisions, we'd be permanently "chasing our tails" and unable to snap out of a particular chain of thought whenever a problem is logically undecidable.

Machines don't really 'need' to deal with that but it's pretty much the definition of a crash and humans don't want to wait forever.
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January 21, 2013, 01:49:27 PM
 #40

I'm not sure, but for me it intuitively seems that if we didn't have any built-in mechanism to make illogical decisions, we'd be permanently "chasing our tails" and unable to snap out of a particular chain of thought whenever a problem is logically undecidable.

Machines don't really 'need' to deal with that but it's pretty much the definition of a crash and humans don't want to wait forever.
Did you even read the article you linked to? A problem is undecidable when there is a right answer and a wrong answer, and no way to tell which is which in all cases. If there are multiple answers with no way to pick between them, but it doesn't really matter which answer you pick (ie, there are no wrong answers), it is not undecidable. Computers do have a way to decide such problems. It's called a random number generator, and it is in fact routinely used to solve such problems as collision avoidance in networking. Contrary to what you might think, it is trivially easy to program a computer to decide randomly between equally good choices, or to add random factors to break out of an infinite loop.

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