Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Dust Theory FAQ - Greg Egan

"Why an FAQ?

Since Permutation City was published in 1994, many readers have raised the same issues with me, again and again. Although I have replied to these questions before — in discussion group posts, interviews, and individual email responses — I thought I'd finally put my thoughts on this all in one place. So, almost thirteen years later, here is a kind of self-interview on the most contentious aspects of the book.

Q1: In the novel, Paul Durham runs a Copy of himself out of temporal order, skipping its mental state forward in time by ten seconds and then computing the intervening states backwards. Surely leaping over ten seconds of time without computing the intervening states would be impossible?

A1: Yes, it would almost certainly be impossible to compute the state of a complex computer model of a human brain and body at time t=10 from its state at time t=0, without computing thousands of intermediate states. So why did I include these scenes? Because this seemed like the simplest way to dramatise the notion that the arrangement of the successive states of the Copy in time (or space) should not affect its subjective experience."

5 out of 5

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