James Stanley


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We're not in a simulation
Fri 2 February 2024
In this post I'm going to make the case that IF (big if) the universe can be simulated, then actually running the simulation has no effect on the contents of the universe. Either the universe can be simulated, in which case we exist within an abstract mathematical structure independent of any actual simulation, or the universe can not be simulated, in which case we trivially do not live inside a simulation. Read more

Incongruous technologies redux
Sun 5 November 2023
Good news: I have worked out why my incongruous technologies are incongruous: it's because of software! Read more

Incongruous technologies
Sun 2 July 2023
Take saws, for example. We have saws for cutting wood, saws for cutting metals, saws optimised for cutting curved shapes, electric saws, computer-controlled saws, and so on. Saws are pretty well explored. Saws are general-purpose. You probably won't discover a new use for saws. Read more

Classifying minds
Tue 25 October 2022
Trying to learn about the mind by analysing the brain is like trying to learn about software by analysing the computer. The only reason anybody thinks neuroscience is related to minds is because we're not familiar with minds that aren't made out of brains. But brains are just the mechanism that evolution landed on, they're not fundamental. Our planes don't fly the same way birds do, and attempts to discover principles of flight by analysing birds were not successful. Flight is actually much simpler than birds! Maybe the principles of consciousness are much simpler than brains. Read more

Consciousness is computable
Mon 20 June 2022
At first I thought it was quite surprising that consciousness can exist in the first place. It doesn't seem to be the same sort of thing as anything else that exists. But there's an enormous selection bias here: every possible universe in which consciousness can not exist does not contain anybody wondering why it doesn't exist. The only time you can even ask the question is when it already exists. So in that sense it's not at all surprising that consciousness exists, it is in fact guaranteed! Read more

What if we could assume new identities at will?
Sun 21 August 2016
I've been thinking a lot about privacy and anonymity recently. It's reasonably possible to create a new online identity, with no links to your real-world identity, as long as you don't need to buy anything and you're careful. Use Tor, get an email address from SIGAINT, and you can sign up for accounts on a lot of other services and speak your mind freely. Read more