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My question is, “Would a digital mind, subject to a digital universe, perceptually be any different in its experience than an analogue mind to an analogue world in its experience?”

I guess what I mean, because of the nature in each situation, there would be no experience in loss of information over a period of time; in the analogue world the stream is continuous and suffers no loss, and in the digital scenario the information from the world is discrete; the mind is also discrete, so perceptually there also would be no loss. So its experience and its perception would, I presume, not differ.

My only doubt in this, though, would be the nature of time each world is subject to, since it’s direct and continuous in each scenario; the mechanism the digital mind is subject to would have a latency in each clink of the mechanism relative to continuous time.

Could anyone shed any light on this or am I way out of left field?

  • Until there is a 'digital mind' your question is speculative and only opinion based. – Swami Vishwananda Mar 2 '18 at 7:08
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A digital mind is not lossless. A digital mind may lose information. Indeed, if it has any sort of storage limits, like a harddrive or a tape, it must lose information or simply run out space with which to store the result of perceptions!

The way a digital mind loses content is different. Analog signals degrade continuously over time. Digital information is lost when you destroy information. It's what happens when you take a bit which contains information because it can be a 1 or a 0, and set it to be 0 (which contains no information, because it can only be in one state). Just like deleting files on your hard drive, the information is lost.

Now what may help for understanding the gap between the models known as the digital mind and the analog mind is to throw away your assumptions about time. Phrasings in your question like "... loss of information over a period of time..." and "... would have a latency in each clink of the mechanism relative to continuous time" imply that you are thinking about digial minds using an analog concept of time. To use an analog concept of time and have the digital mind be aware of it (or able to measure it) requires a mixed analog/digital mind, which is a more complicated set of topics to explore.

  • Thanks for your answer I realise a misconception in my question I raised. Due to the nature of my question and the concept it's formulation was rather sloppy. When I mentioned loss in information I was not referring to stored memory in either scenario but in the y – user29363 Feb 28 '18 at 20:28
  • Information in it's transference from the world via the senses comparatively between the two scenarios to the mind of each and meant when comparing an analog to digital there is loss because of the sampling. But in a digital world which a digital mind would be subject to teh – user29363 Feb 28 '18 at 20:33
  • The reception of that mind to it's digital information would mean that perceptaully it would be no different to a analog mind in an analog world because of the continuous nature of each. I guess to make my question a bit more understandable is that the digital mind would similarly be subject to an inpercievable indifference to an analog one and be perceptaully in it's experience to an analog one – user29363 Feb 28 '18 at 20:38
  • I get the comments about time though thank you Cort Ammon – user29363 Feb 28 '18 at 20:42
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    @Cort Ammon yes and no logic deduces the amount of scenarios. I am looking at a digital mind in a digital world and comparing that experience to a continuous mind in a continuous world(I think we are subject to...). I was proposing that the experience maybe indifferent in either scenario and i take your point about time in a digital world being discrete and as such the clock clunks and i think a concatenation of experience from that digital world to a digital mind would stitch together and become seamless similarly like a continuous mind experiences a continuous world. – user29363 Mar 1 '18 at 22:38
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I can see two angles on this. Buddhist thought sees consciousness as arising from the 'sense gates'. And those who believe in a universal grammar, must see language and thought as linked to our bodily being and what arises from it. We expect one day to be able to communicate with dolphins, but it will require some kind of bridging experiences, a physical rosetta stone of shared comprehension.

But on the other hand, consider the universality of the universal Turing machine, able to run any program. Or that Godel's incompleteness, essentially new creative 'undecidable' propositions can be made in any minimally complex system of signs. Whether these are appropriate for drawing conclusions about our analogue 'wetware' is not indisputable.

I draw from these perspectives, that digital minds, or artificial sentiences, would have a distinct character based on their senses and the emergence of the minds experiences in them, but have a universal capacity as thinking beings to be able to engage with us.

I don't really share your highlighting of information keeping, or time. People with pbotographic memories don't think substantially differently. We already augment ourselves with pcs and phones, and will become increasingly cyborg. Digital minds would have to have some informational losses and uncertainties to be creative. Thought-time would have to be tuned to physicality, to manifestation in actions. These might be digital actions on networks, in which case the times of those relays and programs to interact with would set the clock. With a robotic body, it was ould be that's capacities and energy supplies, and things to engage with such as us. Greater analysis in these times than a human mind, would not I think create a true difference in kind.

The actual qualia of being a digital mind, is probably for fiction and art to think about. I can't think of any truly good hard science fiction about the emergence of artificial sentience, but it must be out there.

  • This seems reasonable to me but I have one slight niggle. May I suggest adding the word 'ordinary' before 'consciousness' in the first sentence? – PeterJ Mar 8 '18 at 12:57
  • No. The Buddhist perspective is that karma (very similar to cause & effect) arises at the interface between mind and world, which is the sense gates. They include a 'sense of thoughts'. And Yogacara include 2 other senses. Consciousness can be in different realms, various attainments & realisations, but only arises at the sense gates. – CriglCragl Mar 8 '18 at 19:13
  • I feel you're making the doctrine incoherent and should maybe research a bit deeper. Mind is part of the world, not where the buck stops. .But I won't labour the point. . – PeterJ Mar 9 '18 at 9:51
  • "Yogācāra discourse explains how our human experience is constructed by the mind." en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yogachara The world is part of mind, which arises at the sense gates – CriglCragl Mar 9 '18 at 11:48
  • Quite. This is why Mind must be reduced. – PeterJ Mar 10 '18 at 12:21
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First of all, it's not completely known whether or not our minds work on an analogue basis or digital as it currently stands. We know (for instance) that the human eye takes around 70 'images' a second, and then builds a picture of motion upon that. Movies are a massive number of still images strung together at 24 frames per second. This is enough to trick the mind into accepting the series of images as a moving picture. In modern video games, people demand more powerful graphics cards so they can increase their frame rate; the faster the frames refresh, the smoother the action on the screen.

So; let's assume for a moment that the eye worked in a more analogue fashion; a typical motion picture would appear to jerk and would look quite digital to us because we're expecting smooth transitions between frames, especially during more intense movement scenes.

Alternatively, let's assume that the eye was only capable of sampling (say) 10 frames per second. There would be absolutely no difference in our perception between the real world and the moving picture.

From all this, we can extrapolate several ideas.

1) If the universe is digital and our minds and senses are analogue, the world would appear to jerk a little around us.

2) If the universe is analogue and our minds and senses are digital, then the world will always seem smooth to us.

3) If the universe, our senses and our minds are all digital, then the real underlying question is that of frame rate. If our minds (and senses) operate at a faster rate than the universe, our perception would jerk from one 'frame' to the next. If our minds and senses operate at the same (or slower) rate than the universe, then (in theory) our perception would be identical to that as we would experience with an analogue - analogue combination. The underlying physics would be very different, but our perception would be more or less identical.

It is this underlying ratio that brings up a broader question; we may think that the universe is analogue, but what if that is just because it's operating at a very high frame rate? Eventually, the granularity between each universal 'state' in a digital universe becomes so fine that it can no longer be distinguished between a digital and analogue state.

Put another way; at what point of granularity do we decide that a system is so smooth as to be defined as continuous (analog) rather than a series of discrete states (digital)?

This is perhaps the more intriguing question as at certain levels of granularity, both digital and analogue descriptions of the universe (and their resultant predictions) may prove true. Does this mean that a universe that works at that level of granularity is both digital and analogue in nature? The problem soon becomes one of definition and capacity to measure and observe.

Is this exactly what's happening in the Quantum Mechanics space right now? Not for me to say, but getting back to the question at hand; the answer lies on a spectrum of granularity that we may not be able to ever fully measure.

  • Thanks for your answer do you think the construction of our brains into a network of discrete finite neurons, and if this structure creates our conscious experience its nature would have a impact and steer our determination of the analogue or digital world because to me that picture is an analogy of a digital mind? – user29363 Mar 1 '18 at 22:59
  • Big question for a comment field, but what I've studied of neurophysiology seems to indicate that there are some 'waves' of electrical energy that surge through the brain as a result (potentially) of quantum fluctuations. It's possible that neurons act as configuration nodes through which an analogue set of waveforms flow, rather than our neurons representing state-holding nodes. The Holographic Universe (by Michael Talbot) goes some way to introducing such possibilities and directly tackles the question of whether the universe is digital or analogue (but it is an alternative view). – Tim B II Mar 1 '18 at 23:32
  • I don't think you are using a valid definition of digital. And you seem to be addressing whether the universe is a simulation, rather than digital minds. Action potential of neurons are continuous variables, not discrete, so humans brains are not digital. – CriglCragl Mar 2 '18 at 8:13
  • @CriglCragl very perceptive of you!! A neuron is subject to a continuous electric flow a consequence of interaction from the senses with the world but as Tim B II states maybe state holding nodes which would be a time sample of the continuous and if the experience we have from the state holding is the only direct factor in our consiousness then human perception is from a digital mind. – user29363 Mar 3 '18 at 17:26
  • @CriglCragl one last crazy thought though if you consider observation to be state determined. Ie we observe matter and energy by the information it projects and that observation records its state when it chooses to observe, the state appears after collapse of the wave function determining its incoherence to decoherence and we can observe it in one of its possible states. However what happens as the result of an event that would change its state does the time of phase transition to that state result in a latency of observation and form a progression in a discrete manner or maybe more Kool aid – user29363 Mar 27 '18 at 21:19

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