30+ quotes from Permutation City by Greg Egan

Quotes from Permutation City

Greg Egan ·  293 pages

Rating: (5.9K votes)


“Is a stranger in a crowd less than human, just because you can’t witness her inner life?”
― Greg Egan, quote from Permutation City


“How does it feel to be seven thousand years old?"
"That depends."
"On what?"
"On how I want to feel.”
― Greg Egan, quote from Permutation City


“Order my life. I’m nothing without you: fragments of time, fragments of words, fragments of feelings. Make sense of me. Make me whole.”
― Greg Egan, quote from Permutation City


“Now he was…dust. To an outside observer, these ten seconds had been ground up into ten thousand uncorrelated moments and scattered throughout real time - and in model time, the outside world had suffered an equivalent fate. Yet the pattern of his awareness remained perfectly intact: somehow he found himself, “assembled himself” from these scrambled fragments. He’d been taken apart like a jigsaw puzzle - but his dissection and shuffling were transparent to him. Somehow - on their own terms - the pieces remained connected.

Imagine a universe entirely without structure, without shape, without connections. A cloud of microscopic events, like fragments of space-time … except that there is no space or time. What characterizes one point in space, for one instant? Just the values of the fundamental particle fields, just a handful of numbers. Now, take away all notions of position, arrangement, order, and what’s left? A cloud of random numbers.

But if the pattern that is me could pick itself out from all the other events taking place on this planet, why shouldn’t the pattern we think of as ‘the universe’ assemble itself, find itself, in exactly the same way? If I can piece together my own coherent space and time from data scattered so widely that it might as well be part of some giant cloud of random numbers, then what makes you think that you’re not doing the very same thing?”
― Greg Egan, quote from Permutation City


“Opponents replied that when you modeled a hurricane, nobody got wet. When you modeled a fusion power plant, no energy was produced. When you modeled digestion and metabolism, no nutrients were consumed – no real digestion took place. So, when you modeled the human brain, why should you expect real thought to occur?”
― Greg Egan, quote from Permutation City


“Let me understand you. Let me piece you together, hold you together. Let me help you to explain yourself.”
― Greg Egan, quote from Permutation City


“A computer model which manipulated data about itself and its “surroundings” in essentially the same way as an organic brain would have to possess essentially the same mental states. “Simulated consciousness” was as oxymoronic as “simulated addition.”
― Greg Egan, quote from Permutation City


“What am I? The data? The process that generates it? The relationships between the numbers?”
― Greg Egan, quote from Permutation City


“Don’t underestimate the need to appeal to people’s imaginations. Maybe you can see all the consequences of your work, already. Other people might need to have them spelled out explicitly.” Maria”
― Greg Egan, quote from Permutation City


“Aden would phone before he left, trying to patch things up, but she could see how easy it would be, now, to break things off permanently. And now that it had reached that stage, it seemed like the obvious thing to do. She wasn’t upset, or relieved – just calm. It always made her feel that way: burning bridges, driving people away. Simplifying her life. She’d”
― Greg Egan, quote from Permutation City


“she believed that houses were meant to be thought of as vehicles – physically fixed, but logically mobile”
― Greg Egan, quote from Permutation City


“Do you mean, that will be enough to satisfy you – or do you intend making a conscious decision to be satisfied?” She”
― Greg Egan, quote from Permutation City


“Do you mean, that will be enough to satisfy you – or do you intend making a conscious decision to be satisfied?”
― Greg Egan, quote from Permutation City


“Often when she thought she was reading his body”
― Greg Egan, quote from Permutation City


“Evolution was a random walk across a minefield, not a pre-ordained trajectory, onward and upward toward “perfection.”
― Greg Egan, quote from Permutation City


“Paul struggled to imagine the outside world on his own terms, but it was almost impossible. Not only was he scattered across the globe, but widely separated machines were simultaneously computing different moments of his subjective time frame. Was the distance from Tokyo to New York now the length of his corpus callosum? Had the world shrunk to the size of his skull – and vanished from time altogether, except for the fifty computers which contributed at any one time to what he called ‘the present’?”
― Greg Egan, quote from Permutation City


“There’s a cellular automaton called TVC. After Turing, von Neumann and Chiang. Chiang’s version was N-dimensional. That leaves plenty of room for data within easy reach. In two dimensions, the original von Neumann machine had to reach further and further - and wait longer and longer - for each successive bit of data. In a six-dimensional TVC automaton, you can have a three-dimensional grid of computers, which keeps on growing indefinitely - each with its own three-dimensional memory, which can also grow without bound.

And when the simulated TVC universe being run on the physical computer is suddenly shut down, the best explanation for what I’ve witnessed will be a continuation of that universe - an extension made out of dust. Maria could almost see it: a vast lattice of computers, a seed of order in a sea of random noise, extending itself from moment to moment by sheer force of internal logic, “accreting” the necessary building blocks from the chaos of non-space-time by the very act of defining space and time.”
― Greg Egan, quote from Permutation City


“The TVC universe will never collapse. Never. A hundred billion years, a hundred trillion; it makes no difference, it will always be expanding. Entropy is not a problem. Actually, ‘expanding’ is the wrong word; the TVC universe grows like a crystal, it doesn’t stretch like a balloon. Think about it. Stretching ordinary space increases entropy; everything becomes more spread out, more disordered. Building more of a TVC cellular automaton just gives you more room for data, more computing power, more order. Ordinary matter would eventually decay, but these computers aren’t made out of matter. There’s nothing in the cellular automaton’s rules to prevent them from lasting forever.

Durham’s universe - being made of the same “dust” as the real one, merely rearranged itself. The rearrangement was in time as well as space; Durham’s universe could take a point of space-time from just before the Big Crunch, and follow it with another from ten million years BC. And even if there was only a limited amount of “dust” to work with, there was no reason why it couldn’t be reused in different combinations, again and again. The fate of the TVC automaton would only have to make internal sense - and the thing would have no reason, ever, to come to an end.”
― Greg Egan, quote from Permutation City


“Only the promise of eternal growth made sense of eternal life. Kate”
― Greg Egan, quote from Permutation City


“Paul counted – and for argument’s sake, tried to defend his own perspective, tried to imagine the outside world actually cycling through fragments of time drawn from ten distinct periods.”
― Greg Egan, quote from Permutation City


“When first resurrected, he’d worried constantly over which aspects of his past he should imitate for the sake of sanity, and which he should discard as a matter of honesty.”
― Greg Egan, quote from Permutation City


“If you’re not prepared to perform the experiment yourself, at least think about the implications. Imagine that you’ve modified the way in which you’re computed – and imagine what the consequences would be. A gedanken experiment – is that too much to ask for? In a sense, that’s all I ever performed myself.”
― Greg Egan, quote from Permutation City


“Imagine a universe entirely without structure, without shape, without connections. A cloud of microscopic events, like fragments of space-time … except that there is no space or time. What characterizes one point in space, for one instant? Just the values of the fundamental particle fields, just a handful of numbers. Now, take away all notions of position, arrangement, order, and what’s left? A cloud of random numbers.”
― Greg Egan, quote from Permutation City


“That’s all I am, now. That’s all that defines me. So when they’re happy, they’ll be me.”
― Greg Egan, quote from Permutation City


“He tried to dredge up the familiar, comforting truths: The Copy would survive, it would live his life for him. This body was always destined to perish; he’d accepted that long ago. Death was the irreversible dissolution of the personality; this wasn’t death, it was a shedding of skin. There was nothing to fear.”
― Greg Egan, quote from Permutation City


“If the technology improves sufficiently, the environmental impact of the wealthiest Copy could end up being less than that of the most ascetic living human. Who’ll have the high moral ground, then? We’ll be the most ecologically sound people on the planet.”
― Greg Egan, quote from Permutation City


“Recalculate. Then show me sunrise again.”
― Greg Egan, quote from Permutation City


“Kate had made both the environment and the body for him, and he liked the tranquil mood of the piece. There was no invented family, no role to play; this was a painting, not a drama. One place, one moment, lasting as long as he chose to inhabit it.”
― Greg Egan, quote from Permutation City


“Every few decades, at random, I take on new goals, at random. It’s perfect. How could I improve on a scheme like that? I’m not stuck on any one thing forever; however much you think I’m wasting my time, it’s only for fifty or a hundred years. What difference does that make, in the long run?”
― Greg Egan, quote from Permutation City


“I have other time frames to worry about besides yours!”
― Greg Egan, quote from Permutation City


About the author

Greg Egan
Born place: in Perth, Australia
Born date August 20, 1961
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