An observer is a pattern in space-time (a physical process) which engages in the processing and storage
of information about its surroundings in space-time. Its information processing is such that the observer
creates abstracted, isomorphic, representative symbolic models of the structures and processes surrounding
it, as well as other, purely abstract informational model structures. The observer has subprocesses of itself
which process its representative models in such a way as to model, simulate, or calculate relations between
informationally connected local parts of the space-time surroundings of the observer. These "cognitive"
subprocesses also model, simulate, or calculate relations between the observer process itself and its
surrounding structures and processes in space-time.

An observer is constrained to exist as a substructure of an informationally self-consistent medium,
and a medium in which notions of change, locality, and metric space and time can be defined.

Further, an observer is constrained to exist in a locale which has a thermodynamic range of variation,
and a fine-grained structural variety suitable for the random coalescence of structures (slow localized processes)
which can attain auto-poietic (pattern-self-sustaining) properties relative to alternative patterns of organization of
matter and energy. As a restatement and refinement of that constraint; the locale of the observer must be suitable
for the emergence of and growth of stable, organized complex systems with adequate degrees of freedom to explore
many possibilities for their form and function. Only in such a constrained environment could an observer
general-information-processing-and-epresenting-and-abstracting process arise spontaneously and maintain itself
long enough to do meaningful observation of its surroundings.

An observer is constrained to perceive only informationally self-consistent states (with respect perhaps to some
notion of locality and metric space-time) that its medium exhibits. It is
conceivable that the medium exhibits other, informationally mutually inconsistent states, but any aspect of the
"extent" of these other pseudo-states of the medium can in principle
not be perceived by any information receiver and processor such as the observer.

Hal Ruhl wrote:

I would like to explore just exactly what the various members of the list mean by "observer" as in the following from Wei Dai's post.


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