Wei Dai wrote:
> On Sat, Nov 03, 2001 at 03:26:02PM +1100, Russell Standish wrote:
> > In a relatively trivial sense, observers must process
> > information. Quite what this means is a little unclear - for example
> > does it mean that all observers need to be capable of universal
> > computation?
> Clearly many observers are not capable of universal computation. We
> ourselves are mortal and therefore are not capable of computation that
> would take longer than our lifetimes.

I don't think this is usually what is meant by universal computation,
which is simply that any Turing machine can be emulated by a device
capable of universal computation. I think the fact that real physical
devices have finite lifetimes is ignored when assessing this property...

> > It does seem to me that observers do implement some kind of totally
> > recursive function i.e. will classify any input given to them into a
> > countable (possibly finite) number of categories. This is sufficient
> > to resolve the white rabbit paradox and deliver the general
> > Schroedinger equation.
> I don't think you have solved the white rabbit paradox. You've tried to
> explain why we perceive the world to be relatively simple given our own
> information processing abilities, but you have not tried to explain why we
> ourselves are relatively simple. Why are our own minds relatively simple
> and regular, considering that intelligent minds can be arbitrarily
> complex? Your observer-relative approach does not and can not answer that
> question.

In the observer relative approach, the world we observe is relatively
simple. That applies to the minds that we observe, including our
own. I still believe this solves the WR paradox.

What I haven't explained is why we need to observe our own minds, nor
why our minds should be embedded in a physical object within our
world. It would after all be a far simpler world if our brains and
minds weren't contained within it.

This problem is what I tend to call the "Anthropic Principle" problem,
and in essence is swept under the carpet in my work by assuming the
Anthropic Principle. Bruno Marchal calls it the "Mind-Body"
problem. The issue here, I believe, is that the AP is a tautology if
you accept physicalism, that we necessarily live in a physical
world. But both mine and Bruno's approach are anti-physicalist, so it
is a problem...

> > Now if you're asking the question of why our intelligence is human,
> > rather than say ant or bacterial, then I really don't know. I could be
> > that self reflection is important here, but I'm only guessing. Only a
> > few species are known to have a sense of self, and homo sapiens is the
> > most numerous.
> Now you seem to be talking about an absolute measure on information
> processing abilities (i.e. homo sapiens are more numerous and therefore
> have greater measure). Now doesn't that lead to an absolute measure on bit
> strings, which you claimed was not necessary?

I don't think so. I'm merely noting the fact that according to our
observer dependent measure, antlike and bacterialike consciousness are
far more numerous than our own. Obviously, there must be some "missing
ingredient" from their consciousness...

> And where does that absolute measure on information processing abilities
> come from? I mean in your theory, the only reason we perceive that homo
> sapiens is the most numerous is that we are homo sapiens ourselves, so we
> can't use that fact to explain why we are homo sapiens. 

I'm really glad you're making the effort to understand the arguments,
and taking me to task on them. This is such revolutionary stuff, it
needs to be probed in minute detail.


Dr. Russell Standish                     Director
High Performance Computing Support Unit, Phone 9385 6967, 8308 3119 (mobile)
UNSW SYDNEY 2052                         Fax   9385 6965, 0425 253119 (")
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Room 2075, Red Centre                    http://parallel.hpc.unsw.edu.au/rks
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