How many minds can exist within a 1000 cubic foot area?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by davidelkins, Jul 6, 2016.

  1. davidelkins Registered Senior Member

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    How many minds can exist within a 1000 cubic foot area? I would argue that an infinity of minds could exist in such spacial arrangments. Weigh in. DE
     
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  3. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Since minds are an emergent product of neural systems, they take up space.

    So it depends on your threshold for 'mind'. Mice have minds, but do ants?

    If an ant is the smallest creature with a mind, then you could fit on the order 1 trillion minds in a 1oo0 cubic foot area space. A lot, but certainly not infinite.
     
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  5. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    What is there to "weigh in" on? How many cars can you fit into a football stadium...weigh in?
     
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  7. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

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    WoW... thats a lot... whats you'r argument that you'r right.???
     
  8. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    The graininess of that volume at the bottom is going to be a limit for any traditional notion of machine structure carrying out processes. But both micro artificial intelligences and the lesser functional equivalent of fruit-fly brains would run into a wall long before that. A femtometer scale is the best that might be hoped for, which is still a long shot.

    Degenerate matter has been proposed as a potential substrate for femtotechnology, but none has been discovered that is stable at conventional gravity levels. Equally undiscovered "strangelets" could be another femtotech building block.
     
  9. Daecon Kiwi fruit Valued Senior Member

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    So does that mean 1/8 of infinity is the number of minds that can fit into a 500 cubic foot area?
     
  10. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    Please post your argument in detail.

    I would like to know that you've given this careful thought and that you're not just wasting everybody's time here.

    Thanks.
     
  11. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
     
  12. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    My views are similar to Dave's. I think that minds aren't substances at all, they are information processing activities.

    If that's so, then the question would be -- how small can a physical system be and still behave as a mind?

    In that regard, I agree with CC that there are likely quantum mechanical reasons to think that such systems aren't continuously shrinkable.

    Practically speaking, the answer is going to depend on the technology. Biological organisms are very good cramming very complex functions into small volumes. If the minds are instantiated in brains based on many neurons and their interconnections, then the size of the neurons and the number of neurons necessary to produce the functions will be limiting factors. It might be possible to create much smaller information processors (orders of magnitude) with some kind of chemical nanotechnology, I don't know.

    Greg Bear, a science fiction writer known for very brainy sci-fi, imagined cramming entire intelligent minds inside single cells with chemical information processors in his 1980's novel Blood Music. A California biotechnology company is working on biochemical nanotechnology computers in cells. The company becomes concerned about the potential dangers and orders all samples destroyed. One of the project scientists thinks that's small-minded and short-sighted and injects himself with them to smuggle them out of the lab. They multiply in his system while evolving very rapidly (their timescale is much faster than ours) and he gets ill. They eventually create a civilization inside him but it takes a while for them to figure out where they are and what their environment is. Eventually they start trying to communicate with him and begin reconstructing his body from the inside out. At first all of his physical ailments are mysteriously cured, even his myopia. He's never felt better. Then the mods start to become more radical. The scientist gradually loses his humanity (the boundaries of that is common Bear theme) as the billions of minds inside him swallow him up and reshape him, just as humans reshape their environment. Then the organisms escape his dissolving body and spread to other people and... it's the end of the world.

    That suggests that you want to argue that minds aren't spatial, that they don't need to occupy space.

    Right. That was the same issue. Do spiritual beings occupy space? Is mind a spiritual being that's somehow causally connected to a physical body, driving it around like a car?
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2016
  13. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    I don't now about cars, but we do know that the surface area of a cubic centimeter of fine clay will coat an entire tennis court.
     
  14. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Er... Only if that tennis court is 6 cm^2 ...

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    [ EDIT ] OK, I get it now.

    I read it as the surface area of a one centimeter cube of clay. i.e. = 6cm^2

    My bad.
     
  15. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    My bad, I should have said "surface area contained in a cubic centimeter of fine clay"

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    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlAQLgTwJ_A

    Start at 54:53 for the incredible surface area contained in clay at the molecular level
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2016
  16. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    The dubious origin of this question is quite interesting: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_many_angels_can_dance_on_the_head_of_a_pin?

    There does not seem to be any evidence that any mediaeval scholar, philosopher or theologian posed it in so many words. It seems there were debates as to whether "pure spirit" entities occupied any space. Reminds me rather of the distinction we now make between Fermi-Dirac and Bose -Einstein statistics.

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    I'm with Yazata in treating what we call "mind" as a process, not a thing. Cartesian dualism has had its day, I think. Now that we have computers it seems fairly easy to think of the sense of awareness that we call "mind" as being the functioning of a neural network connected to sensors of its environment or other stimuli.
     
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  17. river Valued Senior Member

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    Which also thinks .

    The mind evolves .

    To compare our minds to computers ......is dangerous to our very existence .
     
  18. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

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    How so.???
     
  19. river Valued Senior Member

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    Because they are both mechanical and electrical .

    Neither of which is life energy .
     
  20. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

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    Sinse a computer dont thank or evolve... how woud it be a danger to our existance.???
     
  21. river Valued Senior Member

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    Because generally we compare life to a computer . So we think in terms of life = computer .

    Hence life is nothing more than a computer .
     
  22. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

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    Im not makin the connection... so please give an example of how thankin that life is nuthin more than a computer indangers our existance.???
     
  23. river Valued Senior Member

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    Because computers think faster ; but computers are dependent on the input ; who is this that puts in the input ?

    Computers are seductive because of their speed of computation and memory .

    Computers will control us ; not just because of their very nature ; but who controls the computer .
     

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