Hello Joe,
>
>      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?

Indeed. Our universe operates via simple laws, and, as a consequence, all
the complexity that it generates must be highly compressible. That implies
that everything becomes related at the macroscopic level.

>       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!)

Some interesting thoughts here. Actually I don't think we disagree at all! I
also think that one has to look at the system in question and look at the
information processing capabilities. E.g. an ants nest could be found to be
conscious...

So, I am not saying that only certain programs are conscious and others not.
I am really saying that if you the universe is running (in some
approximation) a certain program in my head. That program defines me. If you
run that program on a computer, that computer would have my consciousness,
i.e. that computer would be me. Since most members of this list (except for
Russell?) believe that our universe itself a program, you could say that in
some sense it is conscious. Most of us think, however, that our universe's
program is very simple. A retarded amoeba would probably be more
intelligent.

Now, one of the reason why I introduced these ''personal programs'' is that
one needs an objective way to tell who is who. I will write more about this
(in particular about how to resolve the quantum suicide problem) when I have
more time (probably in a few weeks from now).

Saibal


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