> > As I said I agree with you. But do you really mean a measure defined
> > on a set of computer programs, or a set of computer program *states*?
> I think that you can derive one from the other. I have thought about this
> before, and I now think that the observer should associate himself with a
> (to himself unknown) program, or better, a set of programs, that could
> generate him.
> E.g. there exists a program that only calculates me and nothing else. This
> program e.g. could compute me in an infinite dream. Many such (very complex)
> programs must exist. I think that these programs define our identities (or
> vice versa, but then not uniquely). Now, if conscious objects correspond to
> programs then you don't have the paradox that any clock or lookup table has
> intelligence. The fact that I don't live in my own personal universe, but
> that my universe is generated by a simpler one, suggests that simpler
> programs have larger probabilities.
> If you now have an a priory probability over the set of all programs, you
> can compute (in principle) the probability that I will observe a certain
> outcome if I perform a certain experiment. At least you can formulate this
> question in a mathematical unambiguous way.
I have difficulty with the concept of many distinct programs, each
representing an individual conscious entity. My understanding of modern physics
is that the concept of an isolated individual is essentially obsolete, in that
nothing can be defined without relation to everything else. As a result, surely
the underlying "program" for each must be similarly connected, so that in fact
an individual physical object is simply a concentration of processes operating
in one part of the program?
The significance of this is that the paradox of intelligent objects
doesn't arise at all. I work on the assumption that your program is synonymous
with universal awareness (the abstract form of consciousness), and that
intelligence would be the result of local information-processing systems.
Partly because of the view of everything being inter-related, I'm uncomfortable
with a sharp, intelligent/non-intelligent distinction, and have no problem with
a mechanical object expressing a very low degree of "intelligence". Indeed,
anything which responds to stimuli could be seen in this way, including a rock
undergoing thermal expansion. However, an object can only become self-aware
once the processing centre is reasonably complex, and based on sufficient
local inputs to define a boundary to the region of the observer; this, I guess,
would be the manifestation of a closed (or at least self-referent) processing
loop within the program.
As I understand your view, it by-passes the paradox by introducing
arbitrariness, and any approach of this type seems to me to result in more
problems. At what point in evolution did an organism first become intelligent?
Do we then assume that a qualitatively different faculty was introduced? If so,
how? These sorts of questions seem to be the result of over-reductionism, of
separating gradations into artificial categories. (Of course, being a
palaeontologist, I spend much of my time doing just that, but never mind!)
All the best,
Department of Earth Sciences
University of Cambridge
Cambridge CB2 3EQ
Phone: ( +44 ) 1223 333400
Fax: ( +44 ) 1223 333450