Archive for the ‘Time Travelers Anonymous’ Category

Mr. Freeze, the Iced-Time Demon

Thursday, August 16th, 2007



Fear of a Blue Planet

Originally uploaded by Pete Mandik

1. Meet Mr. Freeze
Mr. Freeze is an iced-time demon. Mr. Freeze exists outside of my subjective time. He has the power to change the amount of objective time it takes for subjective time to pass. Among other things, Mr. Freeze can freeze my subjective time without my noticing. Mr. Freeze might freeze subjective time by not just freezing me, but also anything in my perceptual environment (clocks, etc.). Thawed time occurs when subjective time is in perfect step with objective time. Iced time comes in two flavors. The first occurs when subjective time is frozen relative to objective time. The second occurs when objective time is frozen relative to subjective time.

2. Iced Time: Flavor the First
Between any two subjective instants (subjective temporal units of zero duration) Sn and Sn+m, Mr. Freeze can insert a non-zero amount of objective time without my noticing. And he can insert two non-zero duration units of objective time without my noticing. And he can insert three. Leaping inductively, it follows that Mr. Freeze can insert an infinite amount of objective time between any two subjective units without my noticing. Suppose that it is now subjectively noon. How much objective time will pass before subjective noon+m? An infinite amount. Will I notice that noon+m objectively effectively never arrives? No, I will not. How much objective time needs to pass for me to have a subjective experience as of time passing? None at all. Effectively, no objective time needs to pass at all for me to have a subjective experience as of the passage of time.

3. Iced Time: Flavor the Second
Just as Mr. Freeze can insert units of objective time between my subjective units, he can remove them. Between any two subjective instants (subjective temporal units of zero duration) Sn and Sn+m, Mr. Freeze can remove a non-zero amount of objective time without my noticing. And he can remove two non-zero duration units of objective time without my noticing. And he can remove three…[insert inductive leap here]. Mr. Freeze can remove an infinite amount of objective time between any two subjective units without my noticing. Now it’s objective time that has been frozen and my own life can pass, in its entirety, in (objectively) no time at all.

4. Objective Time: Who Needs It?
If certain assumptions of multiple realizability and the computational theory of mind are true, then my entire mental life can be structurally isomorphic to a computer program which, when run, will have phenomenal consciousness just as I do. And if the stuff about Mr. Freeze and iced time in 1, 2, and 3 are true, then whatever structures are realized by objective temporal relations can be realized by non-temporal relations. Thus, the program doesn’t even need to be run. Just sitting, inert, written on a (very large) disc, the static un-run program suffices for the instantiation of the entirety of my time consciousness.

The Slow Switching Slowdown Showdown

Saturday, November 4th, 2006

Why the Sea is Boiling Hot
Originally uploaded by Pete Mandik.

Slow switching is something that has always kind of bothered me and below I pose a problem for fans of slow switching. Slow switching is this thing that happens in a bunch of thought experiments in the philosophy of mind. For example:

By “water” you mean water. But one day you go to Twin Earth, where the stuff that seems just like water and is called “water” isn’t water at all. It is twater. By the way, you were transported to Twin Earth unawares, so your initial attempts to think and utter truths about that twater stuff are doomed to fail since you are really thinking about water. However, through the miracle of SLOW SWITCHING, after a while (days? weeks? years? Nobody knows) your attempts to think and utter truths about that twater stuff now succeed. By “water” you now mean twater and all of this was achieved without any differences except those involved in the mere passage of time. Thus, slow switching happens without you noticing: it makes no subjective impact on you or anyone else.

But here’s a little puzzle that I’d like to pose for people who think this slow switching stuff is supported by intuition. Consider two Twin Earth scenarios like the one above wherein scenario A is just like the one above and scenario B differs with respect to the following demonic intervention. In scenario B, after each second of subjective time experienced on Twin Earth B, the demon freezes all activity on Twin Earth B for 99 objective seconds. The net result is that processes that subjectively take the same amount of time on A and B, take a hundred times longer objectively to complete on B.

Here’s the puzzle. Suppose that slow switching takes a year on Twinearth A. On Twinearth A, objective and subjective years are equal. However, on Twin Earth B, a subjective year takes a hundred objective years to get through. How long will slow switching take on Twin Earth B? My bet is that people that have the slow switching intuition will want to say that it takes 100 objective years. This would show, though, that the slow switching intuition requires a subjective supervenience base. But this seems in tension with the part of the intuition that says that slow switching can take place without anyone noticing, that it is the objective facts upon which slow switching supervenes (facts about e.g. H2O and XYZ).

The tension at the heart of the slow switching intuition is that slow switching both does and doesn’t supervene on objective facts.

The Twelve Steps of TimeTravelers Anonymous

Wednesday, June 30th, 2004

The Twelve Steps of TimeTravelers Anonymous

1. We admitted we were powerless over TimeTravel and that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to our proper time frame.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care the ElderGods as we understood Them.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves and each of our Past and Future Selves (While not under the influence of Morality Supressants).

5. Admitted to the ElderGods, to ourselves (including any PastSelves and FutureSelves existing in time frames that we could reach by telephone), and to another human being or a sufficiently Re-evolved Non-human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have the ElderGods remove all these defects of character or at least replace them with relatively useful defect upgrades. And in time frames wherein Infinite Will pills are available, replace “entirely” with “infinitely”.

7. Humbly asked Them to remove our shortcomings or at least replace them with relatively useful shortcoming upgrades.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, including Past and Future versions of said persons, and became willing to make amends to them all. And in time frames wherein Infinite Will pills are available, replace “willing” with “infinitely willing”.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others or the very SpaceTime continuum itself.

10. Continued to stay off of Morality Suppressants, take personal (as well as Past-Personal and Future Personal) inventory, and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through Magickal Rites and UltraVoid Broadcasts to improve our conscious contact with the ElderGods, as we understood Them, placating them only for knowledge of Their Infinite Will for us (not porn!) and the power to carry that out or at least carry out finite approximations of it when restricted to time frames wherein Infinite Will Pills are unavailable.

12. Having awakened to our natures as ethereal matrices of vibrations from the UltraVoid as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to other Time Travelers, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.